It’s a comedy of errors, but no one, bar the rest of the league, is laughing as Liverpool continue their winless streak with a gutless performance against Premier League basement dwellers Crystal Palace.
Well, they were in the basement, anyway. The Eagles weathered an early storm to pull level through Dwight Gayle after Rickie Lambert scored his first goal for the Reds within the opening two minutes. The poor decision making of the visitors will be one of the main talking points to come out of the second half as a pair of blunders handed Palace two goals in four minutes to all but seal the win. Three points for Neil Warnock’s side bumps the Croydon club to within touching distance of 12th place where the the Reds, whose problems continue the multiply, currently rest their heads.
There’s no way to hide from the numbers; quality of opposition aside, losing three matches in the span of seven days is a tough go for any team, and when you’re Liverpool football club, it borders on unacceptable.
It was Newcastle United last weekend, Real Madrid midweek and now Chelsea earlier today with a single goal doing in the Reds each time. Emre Can, one of the few hold-overs from much tinkered with team that ran out at the the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday, opened the scoring when his long range striker took a wicked deflection off of Gary Cahill, but the defender atoned for his sins a mere five minutes later when he bundled home following some confusion in the box and Diego Costa wrapped things up with a fine finish midway through the second half to ensure the Blues made it back to London with their unbeaten streak intact.
By the time the team-sheet was announced, you’d have been excused for suggesting that Liverpool had sacrificed further progression in this season’s Champions League in order to focus on qualifying again next year. By the final whistle, it was hard to know how to feel.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers made wholesale changes to the side that lost to Newcastle at the weekend with Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Mario Balotelli all left on the bench. Though it was suggested by a number of pundits pre-match that he was either throwing in the towel or keeping an eye to Chelsea at the weekend by resting a number of key players rather than focusing on the considerable task at hand, the Northern Irishman wasn’t keen on that line of thinking and had some suggestions of his own following the match.
When the points are tallied up in May, six points can make a massive difference; following today’s reversal at the hands of a resurgent Newcastle United, there’s little doubt that things aren’t quite right at Anfield.
Liverpool are two wins off where they were at this stage last season, and though there’s still a lot of football left to be played, the differences between the two sides stand in sharp contrast to each other — though their defensive frailties have remained frustratingly consistent. That, of course, was the story today with Alberto Moreno gifting Ayoze Perez his second goal in as many matches after the Reds backline failed to deal with a cross from Paul Dummett.
Swansea City were on the verge of sending Liverpool out of the League Cup for the second time in three seasons until a late fight back saw the hosts sneak into the quarter-finals.
With the fixtures coming thick and fast, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers rung the changes for the midweek meeting, though things looked pretty much the same as always when Jacks attacker Marvin Emnes swung in a highlight reel volley that beat stand-in ‘keeper Brad Jones just past the hour mark. Embattled striker Mario Balotelli was introduced into the fray right around the time the cause looked lost, but the Italian eased an effort past Gerhard Tremmel from a Fabio Borini cross to level proceedings before Dejan Lovren completed the turn-around by heading home Philippe Coutinho’s well-placed free-kick to spark wild celebrations in front of the Kop.