Crystal Palace v Liverpool – Crystal Amazed

Crystal Palace.

Crystal Amazed.

See what I did there?

I absolutely loved The Crystal Maze.

Alberto Moreno and Emre Can combined to put us 1-0 up. Amazing really. That’s the much maligned Alberto Moreno and Emre Can. I’m not downplaying the initial ball played in by the enigmatic Philippe Coutinho, but come on, that’s Alberto. Moreno. That’s Emre. Can.
Emre Can might just be playing himself into form here. Positive contribution, or no positive contribution from Alberto Moreno however, James Milner needs to return in as short a period of time as possible.

Shocking stuff from Dejan Lovren for the first equaliser. Amazing really, considering he’s managed to largely reinvent himself since the arrival of Jürgen Klopp. Individually solid at the back and a danger in opposing penalty areas, Lovren has grown immeasurably over the last 12 months. His defending at Selhurst Park was an ugly reminder of his bad old days under Brendan Rodgers.

Pretty amazing that Lovren marched right up the other end to redeem himself, within just three minutes of gifting Crystal Palace their first goal. A masterclass in how not to defend the aerially delivered ball from both sides was kind of set there and then.

Pretty amazing that Lovren undid his self-claimed redemption in under 10 minutes, with two questionable efforts towards the ball in the build up to Crystal Palace’s second equaliser.

Pretty amazing that we didn’t concede any more goals beyond the 33rd minute. Pretty amazing that Christian Benteke didn’t plunder a goal in this game. In a world of the ‘Old Liverpool’ Benteke scoring would have been a given. In a world of the ‘New Liverpool’ popular convention isn’t given widespread heed, unless it suits current self-serving trends.

Pretty amazing that Joel Matip scored our third goal, meaning our central defensive double act each chipped in with a goal, on a day when we took to the field without what you would definitively class as a striker. Imagine a world when teams used to play with two strikers, rather than one ‘false ten’. Hunt and St John, Keegan and Toshack, Dalglish and Rush, Beardsley and Aldridge, Fowler and Collymore. Step forward our new gimlet-eyed duo of Lovren and Matip?

Of course that’s designed to be tongue-in-cheek Strike partnerships are largely consigned to be as much a thing of the past as Betamax or even VHS is now, and in the right circumstances some teams attack more fluidly without an out-and-out striker. Futuristic football is with us. Back to the Crystal Maze we go in that respect.

Four zones to The Crystal Maze; Industrial (replaced by Ocean from series 5), Aztec, Medieval and Futuristic.

We’re playing some pretty futuristic football at times. The movement we produce while on the front-foot is almost balletic at times. Much is asked of his players by Jürgen Klopp, and within this any minimal dropping of tempo out on the pitch looks more damning than it probably should do. Whisper it, but Saido Mane is subtly out-of-sorts when form is gauged in such an exalted manner. Yet, regardless of subtle fluctuations of form, in stark reality the future seems bright, the future is red.

We are certainly industrious. We never stop working, we never stop moving. We never stop seeking out ways and means of improving. This is an extreme version of pass and move, but it is being increasingly stamped with the hallmark of Liverpool FC. We look at one with ourselves, we are growing into our new image, an image which owes something to the past as much as it gives something to the future.

There is a hint of the medieval Liverpool at play here. The symbiotic nature of the collective permeating all individual endeavour, no matter how beautiful and hypnotic some of that individual endeavour might be. Philippe Coutinho was majestic within this game, yet everything he did, he did it for the team. This is different compared to much of which has passed since our title winning days came to an end, but it is also so familiar. There are nods towards the late 1970s and early 80s Liverpool FC at play here, at least going forward. Roberto Firmino’s ‘dink’ for the fourth goal was pure Kenny Dalglish. We just need to embrace the miserly defensive ethos of those great sides now.

Watford come to Anfield a week from now. Another blank European midweek in which to draw breath, when we don’t exactly look like we need to be drawing breath. We look like a team which just needs a ball at its feet and an opponent putting in front of us. Yet another international break loiters on the horizon, and it all means we’ll play just three times during the next four weeks. That is frustrating.
We are pretty amazing on many levels at the minute, and we just need to be allowed to express it on a regular basis. The lack of games might prove to be a more stifling concept than our opponents could be.

Collecting up the crystals, avoiding the automatic lock-ins. Keep this up and we might just emerge from the maze at the end of the season with the most ultimate of all spoils.


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