The manager has changed, the tactics have changed and even the colour of the scoreboard at Anfield has changed but the result when Palace come to town remains the same. Liverpool suffered another home defeat to Crystal Palace and, in the process, inflicted Jurgen’s Klopp first defeat at Anfield.
Steven Gerrard was in the crowd to witness the Klopp revolution first hand but he would have felt a sense of deja-vu as Palace once again upset the odds and spoiled the party.
It’s clear that it will take time for Klopp to get his new side playing in the manner he want them to. The much fabled “gegenpress” style of play cannot be mastered overnight and it needs time, work and dedication to be implemented with success.
Liverpool’s best work under Klopp has been without the ball so far – which may sound odd given the idea is to put the thing in the back of the opposition’s net – but the desire and tenacity that the players have shown to win the ball back and press the opposition is the bedrock of this high-pressured tempo.
That isn’t to say, however, he wants to create a Dortmund v2.0 on Merseyside. This team will need to find its own identity but the early signs suggest he wants Liverpool to outrun, outfight and outthink the opposition.
Adam Lallana looked on the verge of collapsing after covering half of North London in Klopp’s first game in charge at Spurs. But there is a fine line between intelligent pressing and running around like headless chickens and it will take time for this side to adapt to the new system and style.
What’s more of a worry though is how disjointed and one dimensional Liverpool look with the ball at their feet – especially at home when the onus is on them to break down the opposition. Liverpool’s passing has looked laboured and the lack of flair in midfield often means they resort to lumping the ball up to Benteke.
With this in mind, Liverpool should really be looking towards finding a creative winger/attacking midfielder to complement the guile of Philippe Coutinho. Klopp will no doubt be flicking through his contacts book in a bid to solve their creativity issue but in the meantime he should get to work on improving Roberto Firmino’s game.
The former Bundesliga attacker arrived with a big price tag and a glowing reputation but hasn’t got to grips with the Premier League and will need some major improvement coaxed out of him if Liverpool are to have a fruitful season and see a return on their outlay.
Meanwhile, the defence always look just a “Dejan Lovren” away from a full blown meltdown and Klopp will need to strengthen his central defensive options and their confidence.
The sight of Sakho leaving Anfield on crutches against Palace was perhaps an even bigger blow than the result itself. There is, however, some better news as the fullback pairing of Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno fits perfectly into his system and provides some much needed energy and attacking threat.
Clyne has the talent to be an England regular and Liverpool stalwart in the making; his defending is just as good as his distribution and work rate. Moreno, though, is more of a work in progress. He is great going forward but prone to lapses in concentration and defensively naïve – but this is nothing some work on the training ground and an arm around the shoulder won’t fix.
All in all, you’d expect Klopp to be given money to invest in the transfer window but given the usual lack of value around in January it might not be a bad thing if Liverpool kept their powder dry for now.
Perhaps taking a more pragmatic and long term approach would prove beneficial in the long run – Klopp still needs time for his ideas to get across as well understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. Rushing into the transfer market with a wheelbarrow full of cash does not guarantee success – like the club have found out over the last five years or so.
They still have Henderson, Milner and Sturridge to come back from injury in the coming weeks so reinforcements are not urgent for now. What is more urgent, however, is understanding the manager’s ideas and improving the attacking cohesion that is needed to fire Liverpool back into the Champions League.