By Mihail Vladimirov.
- Both Liverpool and Palace set up in the same formation as the recent FA Cup tie, as Rodgers opted for the 3-4-2-1 and Pardew selecting his preferred 4-4-2 (although he did rotate some key players).
- The home team dominated possession in the opening period, but rarely threatened the well-organised defensive structure of the Eagles.
- Bolasie and Chamakh were disciplined defensively, making it difficult for Gerrard and Henderson, as well as threatening on the break whenever Palace countered.
- The Reds were lacklustre in attack, rarely having runners from deep, incisive passing or enough threat from either flank to dominate or create any sustained pressure throughout the match; this was also a constant theme, regardless of the various formations and personnel used.
- Pardew compounded Liverpool’s defensive weaknesses in the space behind the wing-backs and next to the side centre-backs, by moving Bolasie away from Can, and over to Lovren and Moreno’s side where he caused havoc with Puncheon and Ward.
- The fact Pardew stuck with his opening tactical set up, only introducing like for like changes, and yet Rodgers tweaked his side at least three times, illustrates why Palace were deserved winners, and Liverpool finished with more questions than answers.
For Gerrard’s final game at Anfield, Rodgers opted to make a couple of changes. Moreno came in for Johnson and Ibe replaced Lambert. The latter move presumably was largely to allow the change in formation – the previous 4-1-2-3 was replaced by the 3-4-2-1.
On the other side, Pardew made more changes, effectively resting some important players. Palace started without their first-choice ‘keeper (Speroni), centre-back (Delaney) and goal-scorer (Murray) with their only natural holding midfielder – Jedinak – also kept on the bench. The in-form winger Zaha was also rested. Their places were given to players who made their first league start (the ‘keeper Hennessey and the winger Lee) with this being Kelly’s first start at centre-back. Chamakh also made a comeback to the starting XI following the injury that kept him out of the side for the last three months.
One of the main tactical talking points for this game was how both team’s set ups and starting XI (in terms of type of players, if not the names) were exactly the same as in the last game between these two teams – the FA Cup clash back on St. Valentine’s day. However, the fact the game produced a completely different outcome – on the back of how differently the teams performed – was mainly due to Liverpool, as Palace did pretty much the same things.
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