Liverpool slip further into mediocrity with Palace defeat
There is no end in sight to the Merseysiders' horror run as their lack of resilience and attacking threat was once again exposed in another Selhurst Park setback
How Liverpool must despise the sight of Selhurst Park. The scene of one of the most dramatic draws in Premier League history in May is arguably the most atmospheric of all the Premier League stadiums.
For Brendan Rodgers' team, this intimate, tight-knit venue is merely the most vivid reminder of their all-too obvious frailties.
Squandering a three-goal lead in the final 11 minutes on that dramatic evening at the end of last season virtually ended their title hopes.
This latest Selhurst setback in monsoon conditions may not have prompted floods of tears but that they so deservedly surrendered their lead and slipped behind the hosts demonstrated how far into mediocrity Liverpool have slipped.
The team second bottom in the league before kick-off came from a goal down to win 3-1 and provide the kind of attacking thrust, resilience and game management of which the Merseysiders appear totally incapable at the moment.
In Yannick Bolasie, Palace had the most dangerous attacker on the pitch, Mile Jedinak was the game's most authoritative midfielder and Scott Dann the sturdiest defender.
By contrast, Liverpool looked like a team of misfits.
Jamie Carragher knows what is required from those who wear the iconic red shirt, and he was scathing in his criticism of those with whom he once shared a dressing room.
"Something's not right, they're getting bullied out of games," observed the former defender. "The end of last season, when they came here, we said mentally, physically weak - same again. Nothing's changed."
At least, back then, only a few years ago, Liverpool had a destructive strike force and pace to burn across the front five. Not any more.
The Merseysiders' abject start to the season cannot now be termed a blip. That would be an insult to rational analysis. Their run of horror results, and average performances, has lasted for three-and-a-half months and not only ended their title hopes before all the leaves have fallen off the trees, but leaves them needing a radical turnaround to even clinch the top-four spot that was their minimum objective back in August.
Hindsight tells us that Luis Suarez's brilliance last season was, if anything, underrated. Stripped of the Uruguayan's explosive cocktail of excellence and enthusiasm, as well as his former partner-in-chaos Daniel Sturridge, and Rodgers' team looks deficient in virtually all areas.
Lacking Firepower | Liverpool managed just one shot on target
The back five are an accident waiting to happen, the midfield struggle when they are not controlling possession and the attack provides only rare flashes of inspiration. In short, Liverpool have sold a unique player and transformed a virtually unstoppabe team into a rank average one.
The grand sum of over €150 million spent on refurbishing a side that finished second last season now looks as badly spent as the disastrous Tottenham overhaul 12 months earlier.
Adam Lallana provided the pass of the match to put Rickie Lambert through on goal for a slickly taken opener, his first goal in the shirt of his boyhood club, but it is symptomatic of how far Liverpool have fallen that it was their only shot on target in the entire match.
Suarez appears to have taken Liverpool's entire attacking threat to Barcelona with him. Raheem Sterling looks exhausted, Phillipe Coutinho flits in and out of matches and Sturridge appears to be a victim of hereditary physical weaknesses and inappropriate training methods.
And they are the best players. The others are either off the pace (Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Dejan Lovren) or patently not good enough (Simon Mignolet, Mario Balotelli, Martin Skrtel).
Lallana oozes class and Alberto Moreno, dropped for this match, should develop into an accomplished left-back, but Fenway Sports Group might want to investigate more thoroughly the value of the recruitment system they established in the wake of the Damien Comolli sacking.
The American owners have not got much bang for their buck. And there is no glimmer of hope on the horizon.
By Wayne Veysey at Selhurst Park / Goal.com
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