Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 0 Crystal Palace 1 in the 2023-2024 Premier League season…


FRUSTRATION is a hard emotion to write about.

It’s a harder emotion to live with.

My overwhelming criticism of Liverpool in 2024 has been that they have opened the door to frustration. So often they have beaten it back, replaced it with relief and with joy and they deserve our credit and love for that, but there has been far too much frustration in patches.

There needs to have been more 0-0s at half time. More of no encouragement. For all the ideas of transition this season, the one which hasn’t quite gone is the end of encouragement.

Liverpool lose to Crystal Palace at home putting them behind Arsenal, behind Manchester City in the race for the league title.

Alisson Becker has returned from injury. So has Curtis Jones, Dominik Szoboszlai, Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

But the reintegration, combined with the fact some races look run, has undermined Liverpool. The Reds haven’t recovered this week from not going 0-2 up at Old Trafford, another classic emerging and Liverpool haven’t found a way to win back that battle in their heads yet.

This season suddenly feels too circuitous. Some of our players lack experience of what this is and that has been present these last three; they will all come on for it, but that doesn’t help us today. However if you are angry, truly angry, it’s performative.

You feel you see so many chances missed. But there’s still hope something good comes. It’s frustrating, mixed feelings as we walk away from Anfield today.

The Palace goal is ridiculous, in that it is far too straightforward and predictable. I like them and to return to a theme they have five lads capable of playing Champions League football.

Tyrick Mitchell is very good. Ebe Eze is better. Michael Olise is fabulous. I like the look of Adam Wharton, and Will Hughes is one of the boys who scraps. Jean Mateta has been good under this manager and I like Joachim Anderson a great deal.

The chance created with a moment’s lack of attention in Liverpool’s backline. The worry is it’s a lack of nous. A lack of being switched on to what they can do.

And it’s a story throughout the first half. We have the wrong shape against a 3-4-3 for the second game on the bounce. We are too wide at the back and Conor Bradley looks out on a limb, overloaded by Mitchell and Eze. Endo is nowhere near dominant enough – a race that has been run. It’s all a bit of a mess.

The first half drags on and on. Palace are picking holes in our broken shape. Luis Diaz creates chances and puts them under pressure, but our lack of control in midfield means we never manage to work them out.

Curtis Jones is another force who creates movement and dynamism, and Andy Robertson completes the left-side, space-making machine and you feel this could be alright.

It isn’t alright. For multiple reasons. Bradley is too inexperienced for what now needs. He offers Palace a target to aim at. Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah do many of the right things – receiving impossible balls and finding the holes – but they are unlucky and Nunez could benefit from being a bench option.

Liverpool need a more simple shape which helps their full backs. Everything feels complicated and difficult, when under pressure players need to retreat to simplicity.

The second half is even more frustrating while better. Klopp makes the right changes of personnel while every fibre of my being wants 4-2-4. Endo and Bradley come off for Szoboszlai and Alexander-Arnold.

On 66, he roles the dice with Gakpo and Jota for Nunez and Diaz. It’s a fair gamble. Jota always has fire power, but the story is the same: confused shape, chances come, but no one gets lucky.

It is frustrating.

You feel the madness of this game compounding the accumulated tiredness and complexity afflicting Liverpool. It’s not easy, it doesn’t always feel entirely fair, but it’s not hopeless either.

It feels like it will come twice until you accept it never will once. For me that was 91, others may have Jones’s one-on-one or Jota’s block. Pick your poison.

But the truth is this – you can’t keep conceding first and you can’t keep conceding at home.

The end of this season feels uncertain, like quicksand. It doesn’t make for easy writing, that. It is holding your breath. It is wondering and turning over in the mind, not making your mark and committing word to paper. It is reserving judgement.

But being away may be no bad thing. Needing a miracle Thursday is no bad thing, because the journey is an adventure. Buying into Fulham and just beating Everton because it is the minimum requirement, no bad thing. Because then let’s see.

It’s been a slog but let’s not end it not knowing, not slogging, not seeing, not giving it every chance. I’m alright getting beat as long as you crawl away with nothing left and I’m 43 and have got beat an awful lot in a wide variety of theatres. You keep going to the last ditch, the last moment, because you never know. Never be too cool for school.

Having knocked around these parts. It wasn’t the hope that killed us. It was being fucking shit.

They weren’t that today. They were frustrating. We were frustrated. Now, just be good, be prepared, be smarter and get to half time without conceding a goal.



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