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Liverpool 0 Crystal Palace 1: Is the bid for the Premier League title over?



Liverpool 0 Crystal Palace 1: Is the bid for the Premier League title over?

Liverpool’s terrible week just got much worse.

A shock 1-0 defeat to struggling Crystal Palace has dealt a blow to Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of a second Premier League title. After Thursday’s 3-0 defeat in the Europa League against Atalanta, the season is in danger of failing.

We analyze Anfield’s key talking points…

Is that the end of the title hopes?

Even the most pessimistic minds on Merseyside would have struggled to imagine Liverpool’s week going so poorly.

After the 3-0 defeat at home to Atalanta, a result that left progress to the Europa League semi-finals hanging by a thread, another disastrous setback has made a Premier League title all the more unlikely.

Liverpool’s unconvincing form has been masked by a late setback, but Crystal Palace’s determined performance in a 1-0 win has dealt a potentially fatal blow to Jurgen Klopp’s goals of clinching the league title.

Something approaching perfection was needed in the run-in given the brilliant form of Manchester City and Arsenal, and this unforeseen defeat – Liverpool’s first at home in the Premier League since October 2022 – has undermined any belief.

Liverpool still have six league games remaining to respond, but wins in all of these may no longer be enough. Liverpool have seen Manchester City in title races before and hoping for favors rarely comes to fruition.

A season that promised so much has collapsed dramatically in just four days.

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace competition dashboardshowing how Klopp’s side missed glorious goalscoring opportunities

Why do Liverpool play so slowly at the start of matches?

A recurring pattern in Liverpool’s home games means that this season’s ambitions are no longer appropriate.

They were sloppy, lethargic starters, allowing the opponents to strike first. Crystal Palace were the last to take the wind out of Liverpool’s sails when they took the lead in the fourteenth minute through Eberechi Eze. It was a well-worked goal for the visitors, but another lamentable episode of defensive work from Liverpool, which started without a glimmer of intensity.

Eze takes advantage of Liverpool’s sloppy start (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It was the 21st time in 51 league and cup games that Klopp’s side have conceded first, and the sudden absence of a clean sheet still makes even routine games feel like undermining moments.

You have to go back to December 17 and a 0-0 draw to find the last Premier League visitor (Manchester United) not to score at Anfield and since the start of February Burnley, Luton Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Palace have all scored in the first half at Anfield.

Bad defensively again – and it doesn’t get better.

How did Liverpool miss those opportunities?

Liverpool remain a long way from their best, but the missed chances in the second half were inexplicable. There were four huge openings for four different players, but crucially no goals were scored.

Darwin Nunez – so often wasteful at the center of Liverpool’s attack – set the tone when his close-range effort was denied by Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Substitute Diogo Jota was another guilty player, having Nathaniel Clyne block from Dominik Szoboszlai’s pass. Neither Henderson nor Clyne should have been given the opportunity to deny Liverpool.

It was starting to feel like a damaging afternoon by the time Curtis Jones went one-on-one with Henderson – and a finish sent wide of target did little to dent the prospects.

Mohamed Salah, who was off color all afternoon, then added to Liverpool’s dreadful afternoon in front of goal as his late shot was blocked by Tyrick Mitchell.

All this undermined Liverpool’s hopes of putting pressure on their title rivals.

Was Robertson the only spark?

In a tired team performance punctuated by misplaced passes and idiosyncratic positioning, Andy Robertson consistently rose above the mediocrity that surrounded him.

Liverpool’s left-back performed with an energy and drive that most teammates struggle to achieve. He galloped forward down his flank to stretch the patchy Palace defense.

A deep, inviting cross to Luis Diaz almost resulted in the equalizer, save for an excellent save from Henderson. In the first half, Robertson was as threatening as any Liverpool striker.

However, the Scot’s defensive work was even more important. With Palace already one goal up, Robertson had the awareness and pace to catch up and clear Jean-Philippe Mateta’s clipped finish off the line. The goal-line technology showed that Robertson had been the savior… by a matter of inches.

… and taps the ball over Alisson, while Robertson follows him.

The ball seems to go over the line…

…only for Robertson to hook away.

…where the goal line technology showed that it was missing by a few centimeters.

Liverpool’s left side always looked much more confident than the right, with Palace routinely attacking Conor Bradley and Ibrahima Konate with flooded attacks down that flank.

Robertson, the 2020 Premier League winner, was the experience Liverpool were crying out for.

What did Jurgen Klopp say?

The Liverpool manager could not hide his disappointment as he suffered only his second league defeat at Anfield in front of the fans since April 2017.

“It’s very difficult to talk about this game,” he told Sky Sports. “The first half was definitely not good enough, so we showed a response. The reaction was that we lost the conviction of the last game. We tried to get rid of this, but it didn’t work as well as we wanted.

“To concede that goal was a terrible goal to concede with a completely free player in the area. That can’t happen, but it does happen. Crystal Palace didn’t have many more (chances) and we controlled it better and then in the second half we can easily say: if we don’t score with these chances, what can you say?

“The second half was much better, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) came into action and that’s when the structure changed. We caused problems and we had big, big chances. If we were standing here and won the game 4-1, we could have seen the same game with a completely different result. But we didn’t do that, so we have to accept that.”

What next for Liverpool?

Thursday April 18: Atalanta (A), Europa League, 8:00 PM UK, 3:00 PM ET

Liverpool are renowned for their European comebacks but will need to produce something special even by their standards if they are to overturn the 3-0 deficit they face in the Europa League quarter-finals against Atalanta.

If it doesn’t work out, this will be the last European game of the Klopp era… but if there’s any coach who can engineer a turnaround, it’s probably him.

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(Top photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)