There was precious little worth talking about in the positive side of the ledger following Liverpool’s home defeat against Crystal Palace. Philippe Coutinho acquitted himself well once again, offering hope that the Brazilian might now be close to his full abilities following an injury layoff and an initially indifferent spell of form. The little magician lived up to his nickname once again, conjuring a free kick that had Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey spellbound as the ball flew into the net.
Other than that, there were some painfully familiar demons who made their appearance at Anfield. Frailties at set pieces. Underachieving when facing a side of underachievers. And stumbling against Crystal Palace just as the finish line is within sight (with the prize being a top four spot this time rather than the title itself).
Speaking to reporters immediately after the match, manager Jürgen Klopp appeared more perplexed than angry. Even after taking into account key absentees such as Sadio Mané, Adam Lallana, and Jordan Henderson, it remains quite puzzling how a squad with no small amount of talent in it struggles against sides in the lower half of the league table. Describing the sequence near the end of the first half when Liverpool conceded the equalizer, the manager was almost speechless.
“We had good moments in the first half, it’s not easy in a game like this to create chance after chance after chance.
Close to the half-time whistle . . . unbelievable, this goal. I know what happened, but I don’t know why. And there was no reason for it.
We could have done better, but we didn’t, so we have to take it.
It feels harsh and really, really, frustrating in the moment, of course. But we have to strike back, to bounce back. We have two days to recover from this, and we will. The next opportunity at Watford will be difficult again, no doubt. But if we want to go to the Champions League, we have to win our next games.”
Nothing particularly insightful here, which is not surprising at this stage of the season. A solution to the defensive issues has eluded the squad for most of the year, so it’s not likely anything Klopp can say will change things now. As for the road ahead, it’s a short one, and with injuries limiting the options available, it’s not as thought Klopp has more cards to play. Nothing left to do but play the matches and hope for wins.