KLOPP’S LAST GAME SOUVENIR

Chances missed & title blown – 5 talking points from Liverpool 0-1 Palace

Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge has all but come to an end, after a second straight defeat without scoring at Anfield in the space of three days.

Liverpool 0-1 Crystal Palace

Premier League (32), Anfield
April 14, 2024

Goals: Eze 14′

 

Alisson straight into the firing line

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No messing from Jurgen KloppAlisson Becker was passed fit for action again and our established No.1 was thrown straight back into the lineup.

Caoimhin Kelleher has been largely excellent during his long run in goal, but Alisson remains the first choice and that was very much the message, given he wasn’t even on the bench three days ago yet started here.

It took a minute for him to receive his first shot and under a quarter of an hour to concede. If he’d forgotten what life was like between the sticks, here was a quick reminder as the defence left him exposed three or four times in the first half alone.

Trent Alexander-Arnold also made his comeback off the bench, right after half-time with Conor Bradley injured, and the rustiness was apparent with the No. 66’s passing well off the pace.

Bodies and faces back, but like Jota off the bench midweek, not necessarily the quality and rhythm just yet.

 

Angry? More like anxious

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez walks off as he is substituted during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp promised that the Reds would mount a response against Crystal Palace after the midweek drubbing by Atalanta.

“We’ll be angry,” he insisted, meaning his usual football version of the words ‘hungry, fighting and ready to do whatever it took’.

Perhaps he forgot to let the squad know?

The Reds came out with a whimper, not a growl. They were again slow, ponderous, safe in the pass and static in the final third when far greater movement was required.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Crystal Palace won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matters improved as the half wore on in terms of tempo but certainly not with organisation, or even in technical terms with passes astray and timings off.

The second half certainly brought more chances, more moments of danger and more possibilities of goals, but everything was rushed, panicked or lacking certainty.

And nothing went in.

 

Lack of clinical edge, composure and consistency

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's Diogo Jota reacts after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We’ve scored a lot of goals again this year, but there’s no question that the edge of the knife has been dulled by a long way in the final third of the season.

Form, injuries, tiredness, all the above? It ultimately doesn’t matter – only the missed chances and dropped points as a result do.

Again the Reds fashioned well over 20 openings, many today of a far greater quality or chance of scoring than in previous matches, yet none went in.

From Endo hitting the bar to Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez seeing five-yard shots blocked and saved in improbable style, Liverpool simply lacked the killer instinct to make sure the ball went over the line.

That has cost us so often of late, from the win against Man United to an outright defeat here. By expected goals, our last six league games should have yielded almost 17 goals. We scored 10, with three of them against the league’s bottom side.

On this occasion the biggest culprits were perhaps Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones who missed golden opportunities, but the fault is spread across the team.

 

Who deserves to finish the run-in?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's Curtis Jones reacts after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Incredibly, for a team who were in such good form only a few weeks ago, we now face the prospect of deciding who should start the upcoming games based on form, not just fitness.

It’s supposed to be the case that as some return from injury, team lineups become more tough to predict because of the options and quality, not because most of the available faces are underperforming.

Andy Robertson‘s return to prominence is a welcome one, for certain. The left-back was decent against Crystal Palace, an outlet down the left and always putting in troublesome deliveries.

Cody Gakpo has impacted off the bench a couple of times, Harvey Elliott too. Beyond that? Tough to pick out many, in truth.

Salah is well below his best, Nunez hasn’t impacted consistently in some time and even Alexis Mac Allister‘s form has nosedived over the past week.

Whether it’s pressure, fatigue or something else entirely, the players must lift themselves and find a level that allows them to play with far more intensity and, importantly, accuracy.

 

Title chances? Forget it – we’re closer to season over

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the space of three or four days Liverpool have gone from having hopes of a treble to close out Klopp’s final season, to effectively seeing their campaign ended early.

We’ve done an Arsenal, basically.

Barring a magical second leg against Atalanta, the Europa League – which was very much there to be won against mostly second-rate teams – is over in 90 minutes.

And now we have the prospect of playing out the Premier League season in near-irrelevance, with just the Merseyside Derby looking a relevant fixture if we’re left behind by Arsenal and Man City.

Klopp now has the job of rallying the troops, playing the underdog card and trying to get straight back to winning ways.

We had our chance, have we blown it?