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Talking Tactics with Mark Bright: Liverpool

18 May 2015


After all the build up, media attention and spotlight on Steven Gerrard’s last home game at Anfield, the day clearly belonged to Palace.
 
Doing the double over Liverpool this season is something to be very proud of, and it’s also the sixth time this season we have scored three or more goals away from home, and without being disrespectful, we should have scored six.
 
Once again the manager made some sweeping changes to the starting line up: five in total. In came Wayne Hennessey and Liverpool old boy Martin Kelly, Chung-yong Lee made his full debut, Jason Puncheon returned to the starting line up, and so did the Moroccan forward, Marouane Chamakh.
 
I have talked about fine margins in football many times before, I really thought we were unlucky against Chelsea and Manchester United to not take any points, but against Liverpool I think we were fully rewarded with one of our best displays of the season.
 
It was a well planned and executed game plan by Alan Pardew, and Chamakh was key playing in his number 10 role. He stopped Liverpool from being comfortable in possession by engaging Gerrard and Jordan Henderson when they came in to receive the ball from the back three defenders. That made it difficult for Liverpool to get any rhythm going. 

Puncheon showed his versatility playing in a deeper role and had his best game in a Palace shirt since he joined the club, that’s back to back goals for him now. Joe Ledley and James McArthur combined well both defensively and offensively doing role reversal jobs, even if Joe didn’t quite finish his chance off when he got into the box in the first half.
 
It is such a good feeling to go to one of the big clubs and get a result, Steve Browett reminded me after the match that he can remember when we won 2-1 up at Anfield in 1991, but I have to say I couldn’t, the 9-0 defeat there kind of scarred my memory. 
 
Yannick Bolasie, once again, played down the middle as our number 9, he’s not a natural striker but his pace and skill on the ball gave the Liverpool defence something to think about when he ran channels and faced them up. It was another complete away performance, our seventh win on the road.

It was also pleasing to see our young player of the year Sullay Kaikai in the squad, even if he didn’t make the bench. 

Defensive responsibilities are key to how we play, returning to shape as soon as we lost the ball and staying with runners or passing players on was evident to me, everyone must carry out his job, its an old saying, but you are only as strong as your weakest link.

The manager’s use - and timing of - his substitutes was spot on. I was pleased for Wilfried Zaha, coming on and scoring with his first touch, and Glenn Murray too, missing a penalty, the boys said he’s off them now! But he responded well and it ended up where it should have, he just needed an extra touch to do it.
 
No one likes being left out of the team, I could see the disappointment on a few players' faces, but you have to be professional and be pleased for the team you really wanted to play a part in. The game has changed a lot since I retired, very few players can expect to play every game nowadays, moving forward into next season, the manager needs to know everything about his squad as individuals. Inevitably, there will be changes - the players know that - what they need to do is to make sure they remain on board for the next part of the journey. 

We have matched last years points tally of 45, one huge effort in our last game against Swansea City would break another record which the team fully deserve. Finishing in the top half of the table, if results go our way, would be a great way to end the season.

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