PALACE HAD IT IN THE BAG…THEN BENTEKE BLEW IT!!!

It’s always a glorious day when Liverpool plays. There is usually no shortage of drama when the Reds are on the pitch, and that kind of excitement is what I crave for whenever I watch a football match. I was not really sure how exciting Liverpool vs Crystal Palace would be considering the fact that both teams are on opposite ends of the EPL table. Liverpool was in the top four while Palace was in the bottom four. You would expect that Liverpool would quash Crystal Palace, and have the Glaziers running around the pitch like some inexperienced, headless chicken from the get-go.

However, much to my surprise and thrill, that was not the case. Crystal Palace held it down on Saturday, and throughout the first half and several minutes into the second half, the Glaziers were running the show! In the first half, they pushed hard, they ran hard, covered most of their bases, and capitalized on Liverpool’s sluggish start. This pulsating energy, and being able to rattle the Reds’ defense to a point of forcing the goalkeeper to make a dangerous mistake, resulted in the first goal for Crystal Palace. Zaha had managed to permeate Liverpool’s line of defense, and it was up to the latter’s goalkeeper to try and stop the Palace talisman. Karius went in too heavy at Zaha within the box resulting in two things: a yellow card for the goalkeeper, and a surprise penalty for the home team.

The penalty was taken by the one and only, Milivojevic, who is now regarded as the official penalty maestro for Crystal Palace (he’s scored seven penalties thus far). Dismayed by this first goal, the Reds began playing with their usual lightning speed (the kind that we are used to), and much to Klopp’s chagrin, Palace were able to keep up.

The second half was packed with the kind of drama I live for. From Mane’s handball theatrics, Benteke’s wastefulness, to Salah’s undoubted ability to find the back of the net in the dying moments of the game.

The end result was 2-1 in favor of Liverpool, but for me, Crystal Palace was the better team. Zaha was my favorite player in the match. He is unbelievable! I did not even expect him to play this match (two hours to the match, and he still hadn’t been cleared for duty). And then he shows up, and he plays his heart out for 90 minutes with a not-so-healed injury. My friend! That is what it means to love what you do.

He’s going for goal in the first half and the subsequent foul on him by the Liverpool goalkeeper helped set the stage for Palace’s first goal. In addition, he was so instrumental in easing the pressure that Liverpool was mounting on Palace’s goal especially in the second half. If a defender managed to get the ball away from a Liverpool attacker in Palace’s half, that ball would most definitely land on Zaha’s path. He would then run at blistering speed down the left wing as far as he could go to give his side some time to recover from the attack. In so many instances, he led Crystal Palace’s counter-attack as a solo effort. Color me impressed!

My worst performer for the Glaziers was Benteke. He had two amazing chances in front of goal and he threw them away. If he had scored at least one of those direct chances, Liverpool would have been done for, and at the very worst, the game would have ended as a draw. I’m starting to feel that Benteke’s best days are behind him, and he should probably start considering another career…maybe beekeeping. He looks like he would be a great bee farmer.

I was not super impressed with Liverpool’s performance on Saturday, and now it has me worried about their impending Champion League’s game against Man City this week. I mean Firmino was literally unheard of much of the game, and what exactly was Mane playing at? How can you be playing at such a top flight level and act so unprofessionally? Trying to force the referee’s hand by fake falling and grabbing the ball mid-play is not only an insult to your quality as a player, it’s just plain childish! YOU CAN DO BETTER, MANE!! (FYI I strongly believe that he should

Salah added to his tally of premier league goals having scored Liverpool’s second goal late in the match (he is at the top with 29 goals, five goals ahead of his closest competition, Harry Kane). He was quite unimpressive throughout the match, and I think this is probably because he wasn’t connecting with his usual feeders as well. However, that goal was brilliant, and I cannot wait to watch what he brings to the table against Man-City (this will be like the battle of the Titans or something, can’t wait!!).

Crystal Palace players definitely need to be able to maintain their focus and attention until the game ends. If they had, Salah would not have scored, and they would be celebrating a draw right now. It’s become almost habitual for the Glaziers to let their opponents score in the last minutes of the game, and that is why they are losing most of the games. Something needs to be done about this ASAP (although at this point, it does not really matter).

Anyway, that was a wonderful match. Kudos to Liverpool for winning, albeit unconvincingly, and for making the race for the top four even more exciting!

 

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