[Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool].

It has to be said, and loudly, that on current form, Darwin Nunez does not deserve a spot in the starting lineup. One of my colleagues summed it up well in our group chat after Nunez somehow managed to get caught offside yet again, this time on the center line when it wasn’t even a counter, and thus was born this column’s title.

December is the toughest month on the schedule, no doubt, and Liverpool is on an excellent run to start it; title challenges are often built on a December streak, although the Reds have an unfortunate and unique tendency to bottle it later on in the season even after topping the table at Christmas. The bigger problem is that every one of the three wins so far has been off a relatively poor showing. Worst, it’s not any particular part of the team that isn’t working; one time it’s the backline, another time it’s the front, and the midfield seems lost until Trent steps into it full-time, Szobo – another who is on a poor run of performance – is off, and Harvey comes on.

The latter energizes the entire lineup time and again, and if ever there was a supersub, he is it. His winner today was opportunistic and brilliantly taken, but it was the immediate, direct threat he injected into the front line that suddenly made Liverpool’s dominance translate to legitimate chances.

LIVERPOOL 2 CRYSTAL PALACE 1
POST-MATCH

The game itself was interesting in the way that intense, physical games can be in the Premier League, but before the last 20 minutes or so, lacking in quality chances. The hosts came up with the biggest one, in the first half, when my man-of-the-match Alisson showed again why he is worth so many points to the Reds in a given season. He pulled another terrific save out of nowhere in the 98th minute to keep all three points. Mo got his 200th goal, the fifth Liverpool man to do so in history (doubly impressive considering he only joined the Reds mid-career), and added an assist to boot, but if anyone’s name is written on this win, it’s Alisson’s.

Van Dijk did very well too. Yet another man worth mentioning is Joe Gomez, who came onto the pitch to free up Trent to go higher and did an admirable job. I really like this combo of Gomez on the right and Trent at Six. Klopp probably can’t afford to start with it even if only because he needs to keep a rotation at right fullback, but it sure flows nicely.

A word about Andy Madley and VAR. On my part, I think they all did a brilliant job today, precisely because they did it in a way that felt much closer to the original intent of VAR. Let’s examine the two penalty incidents. First was the overturn in the first half; not only did VAR call in Madley to examine an attacking foul in the buildup (rarely the case), he then insisted on viewing it in full speed, rather than just the closeup slo-mo that always looks worse than it is. High marks to the ref there, both for doing that and for then accepting that he got it wrong.

Second was stopping the game two minutes following a potential penalty incident after getting a call from the VAR room. Yes, it felt awkward, but it was the right thing to do, as Quansah definitely screwed up in the box. Palace deserved the penalty. VAR did the right thing to point it out, and most importantly, Andy Madely had no hesitation in stopping the game mid-play to make it right.

Well done to the refs, and Mr. Madley gets a 10/10 from me. Not to mention that all the cards he pulled out of his pocket were also correct, as was the one he un-pulled on VVD.

The Reds top the league again for a few hours. They may well continue to top it after the Arsenal-Villa game later. But with ManU and Arsenal to come, as well as a resurgent West Ham, this December will truly test the team’s mettle. If they can emerge from it on top, then this season may well turn into a legitimate title run. The problem is that these sorts of performances won’t be good enough against the teams ahead.

Still, better to be here than not. Now to cheer on the Villans to play villains to the Gunners.

Ugly Crying and Tissues American Scouser Podcast

We think there was a game this weekend as well but the main topic of course is Klopp's farewell
  1. Ugly Crying and Tissues
  2. Two Week Notice
  3. Having Fun Again
  4. The Turkish Rodeo
  5. Glimpse of Hope
Comments