By Simon Mills
I hate weekends when Palace lose, I’ve written about it before, but that 90 minutes really can ruin the next few days. Fortunately, when the time comes for me to write this blog, enough time has usually passed for me to shake it off and look forward to the next one! This Saturday it’s time for one of our encounters with those Scousers from Merseyside, it’s Liverpool at home.
We’ve had plenty of memorable games with the Reds of Anfield, dating back to a humiliating 9-0 thrashing in 1990, swiftly followed in the same season by one of our most famous results in the FA Cup semi final. More recently we have enjoyed providing Liverpool with some of their least favourite memories, ruining Steven Gerrard’s farewell and of course effectively ending their title dreams, having been 3-0 down one night in 2014.
I spoke at length about that game for my blog towards the end of last season and the key point was that Liverpool left themselves exposed as they tried to break forward and score more goals. There is a certain similarity about them this season, they have been scoring plenty of goals, but often leaving themselves exposed at the back and conceding plenty too.
They are currently the joint top scorers in the league but have conceded more than any other team in the top six (2nd in the top 8). Looking at our strengths and the times we have struggled this season, it seems to me that we struggle more against teams geared up to defend against our talented wingers and stifle our crosses into the box for the dangerous Christian Benteke.
The games against the top teams are very different with the type of tactics they end up playing. For all our change of style, we are still better against attacking teams, our pace and trickery on the wings still provides us with a real counter-attacking threat. Aside from Tottenham - whom we played without most of our first choice XI - the only other side we have faced in the top 9 so far is Everton and on that occasion we were unlucky not to come back with all three points.
There does seem to be an opportunity for us to score goals. Who would bet against Benteke showing his former side what they let go? The concern will be that facing a team with such attacking power, our defence has seemed rather fragile at times this year and, having failed to keep a clean sheet this season, you would imagine it’s unlikely that will happen on Saturday evening.
However, Scott Dann should be back to face his boyhood club and that would be a massive lift in the back line. If I was a betting man, a goal from our captain at any time would certainly be something that interests me.
It’s not going to be easy, that is for sure, and I hope the lads have done their homework. There is no excuse for that not to be the case, now that Alan Pardew has provided them with an app to watch clips of their opponents before a game. I am a massive fan of using technology in sport, I coach another type of game myself and use cameras to record matches in order to analyse every aspect of what went right and wrong. It is so simple, but can provide so much insight and hopefully Palace will see the benefits too.
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