Frustrating, that. Deserved more, didn’t get it. Again. Bad trend.
Below. Winners. Losers. All that jazz.
Luis Díaz: Apparently, when you’re a man down, it helps to have somebody to cover ground for two. Luis Díaz not only scored a phenomenal solo goal to rescue a point for the Reds tonight, but he was absolutely everywhere after Darwin Núñez was sent off, tracking Palace counter attacks tirelessly before driving up the pitch again.
Six tackles and seven dribbles says it all about the running Diaz put in tonight, and there is no doubt that without his efforts, the home side would’ve had to watch Crystal Palace leave Anfield with all three points.
Marvellous Harv: Back when it was assumed that Harvey Elliott was supposed to become a wide attacker for the Reds, this writer struggled with the youngster’s lack of urgency about getting into the box, and opined loudly and often that adding shots and shot assists to his preferred game of dropping into midfield and playmake would be crucial for his development.
Then, Jürgen Klopp simply moved the youngster into midfield, where he took the league by storm with his impressive work rate and astounding ability to receive and move the ball up the pitch aggressively. His broken ankle derailed what looked certain to be one of the great debut season of this generation.
Tonight, Harvey put it all together. In the first half against Palace, the 19-year old produced three shots, two shot assists, four tackles and two interceptions, dominating the game on both sides of the ball. A fortunate back leg block from Andersen and a fluffed finish from Núñez were the only reasons the former Fulham prodigy didn’t walk into the dressing room with a goal and assist to his name at the half, and fans should be chomping at the bit to see the continued development of the club’s young diamond this season.
Justice: The Reds beat Palace pillar to post for the entirety of the first half, taking 17 shots, 12 from inside the area, and creating three big chances, but ended up going a goal down to the first shot conceded, expertly taken though it was by Wilfried Zaha.
In any reasonable meritocratic universe, Liverpool win this game, by half-time, and comfortably. Alas, that is not the world we live in, and reality is the club now have a mountain to climb if they are to meet their ambitions for the season.
Darwin Award: Although he continued his — and I cannot stress this enough —preposterous shot output, generating five shots in the 60 minutes he played tonight, including another two big chances, Darwin Núñez didn’t score any of them, stepping too deep on the his volleyed attempt from Trent’s cross and failing to make clean contact, then being foiled by a Doucoure toe as Harvey Elliott picked him out at the stroke of half-time, slicing his shot onto the post.
He was also sent off, of course. Duped into an idiotic reaction by a defender emboldened by some of the worst refereeing imaginable, perhaps, but deservedly sent off, nonetheless. Not only did it ruin his team’s chances at what was plausibly going to to be a comeback victory, but it also means the Reds, currently missing eight first team players through injury, will have to do without the Uruguayan for the next three games.
Worst off all, it denies us the chance to watch him battle for aerial supremacy with Lisandro Martinez next week. Truly unforgivable stuff.
Refereeing as a staff, record label an motherfucking crew: Goodness gracious me, Paul Tierney. This performance truly had it all. Calling five fouls in the entirety of the first half, incentivising rough play from the team with 25% of the possession, wasting time by reprimanding the same players for time wasting but not actually penalising it, disregarding a shockingly blatant penalty when Andersen obviously wrapped both arms around Diaz in the box and held him down, then booking two players for time wasting in the 89th and 91st minutes, making sure it had no impact beyond draining the clock of a few more seconds.
Truly the stuff of nightmares, and yet, entirely unsurprising.
What Happens Next
The Reds have a full week off, as efforts to nurse the squad back to health will be maximised, before they travel half an hour east to take on their archrivals, bottom of the table Manchester United, and their already-under-pressure manager Erik ten Hag. Let’s hope for an arrest of the current results trend and more replays of last season’s trip to Old Trafford.