By Mihail Vladimirov.
- Markovic and Allen replaced Gerrard and Ibe
- Palace set up reactively, just as Newcastle did under Pardew when Liverpool played there
- Ward and Ledley stayed deep and close to each other rather than staying tight on Coutinho and Lallana
- Chamakh and Campbell got back and close to the midfield quartet whenever Palace were out of possession
- As a result, Liverpool had plenty of the ball in the opening quarter but no space in advanced areas
- Palace’s approach was largely predictable, except Chamakh staying tight on Allen
- Pardew’s idea backfired on his side
- Liverpool reacted impressively to Allen being man-marked
- Liverpool channelled their play towards the right-hand side, where the free space and unoccupied players were
- This suited Can and Henderson
- Allen pushed further forward where Chamakh did not follow him
- Liverpool had plenty of deep runners and better attacking fluidity
- Emre Can was playing more like an extra midfielder than a third centre-back
- Henderson had space in midfield to do a proper box-to-box job
- At half-time both managers made a substitution
- Replacing Chamakh with Puncheon and changing to a 4-1-2-3 (4-1-4-1 out of possession) was a smart move by Pardew
- Rodgers not only replaced Markovic with Balotelli but also make a wholesale change to his side, from 3-4-2-1 to more of a 3-1-4-2
- Liverpool’s half-time changes initially blunted their attacking fluidity
- Liverpool’s two goals came in the period when they looked less dangerous going forward than after going a goal down in the first half
- Even after two more subs, Palace continued in passive mode, lacking intensity and urgency
- Liverpool spent the rest of the game taking the sting out of it with their calm and assured ball retention
For this game both managers had some injury worries. But whereas Rodgers had the strength in depth to ensure there was not too great a drop off in quality, Pardew was hit hard by the absence of his two most reliable midfield players, Jedinak and McArthur. Fortunately for Palace though, their most mobile centre-back – Dann – and Ledley – their third most important midfielder – were passed fit to start.
As such Pardew expectedly started with Ward as one of his central midfielders and played a very reactive 4-4-2 formation instead of going for a three-man midfield shape or a more adventurous style of play.
On the other side, Rodgers made only a couple of changes and played with a full-strength team – Allen came in for the injured Gerrard while Markovic started instead of the cup-tied Ibe on the right flank.
Palace’s Newcastle-like approach
The way Pardew approached this game was identical to the one he used in his last game against Liverpool as Newcastle manager. Interestingly, back then Rodgers for the first time used the current 3-4-2-1 shape, even if the way it was supposed to function and the personnel executing it were completely different to its current incarnation. As such it wasn’t a major surprise that Pardew opted for the same strategy as at the start of November.