Five Things We Learnt: Liverpool 08/11/2015

Written by Robert Sutherland

Unfortunately, a car brakedown put an end to Mark Gardiner's hopes of attending the game at Anfield on Sunday, so Robert Sutherland decided to take a look at five things we learnt from the 2-1 win.

1. Gegenpressing? You've been Pardew'd. Wilf with ball

For all the talk of Gegenpressing - the term used to describe Juergen Klopp's tactical approach - Palace's focus was on a tenacious centre working the ball into the wings.

Whether that was from defence- where Scott Dann and Damien Delaney excelled - or from midfield, where Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur worked themselves into the ground, Palace had a tough core difficult to break down, and wing play that went toe-to-toe with Liverpool's pressure.

And pressure there was. It's not easy for even the most seasoned and cultured midfielders to be confronted by a tight-marking opponent each and every moment they get the ball, but under such scrutiny from Klopp's side, Palace showed a calmness and inventiveness that countered the incessant harrying of their opponents.

Even in spells of Liverpool control, Palace's unit kept a tight, aggressive structure - much to the Anfield crowd's frustration.

2. Dann Omission is a Baffling Blight on Hodgson's England reign

Scott Dann is currently one of the top English centre-backs in the Premier League. A cornerstone in Palace's defensive unit, whether lining up with Damien Delaney or Brede Hangeland, he has been an astounding force in Palace's defence. A defence that currently sees the club lie 8th in the league and that has conceded just 12 goals so far this season - the 5th least amount in the division. 

Yet, despite performances such as this weekend's against Liverpool, or last weekend's against Manchester United, Dann is repeatedly ignored by England manager Roy Hodgson. Of course, England's focus is on building a strong unit of players who understand each other's strengths and weaknesses - but is there really no room for Scott? Especially given Phil Jagielka's injuries? Such a talented defender deserves at least a chance to prove his worth at the highest level. 

3. Wilf was Wonderful 

Tough love was needed when Alan Pardew felt that Wilfried Zaha wasn't doing his job properly - and tough love was what he got. A spell on the sidelines followed, in the hope that it might kick some sense into the winger - and Pardew will be pleased by the results. Wilf has been a dominant force on the wings in recent fixtures, proving a difficult player to mark for both Man Utd and Liverpool defenders. We all know what Wilf is capable of - success in the Championship should have been followed by success in the Premier League, but after that disastrous spell at Man Utd, it has taken him time to adjust to the rigours of Premier League football. 

Fluctuations in form are to be expected - especially given that the player is still only 23 years old - but it was his work rate which was lacking. Not so, now. His effort at Liverpool was there for all to see - and his contribution early in the first half provided Yannick Bolasie with his goalscoring opportunity (via some calamitous defending from Emre Can.) If there's another player who should be pushing for international recognition in our squad, it should be Wilf - he's a player with a skillset that England lack - a direct, fearless streak of creativity. More of the same and who knows?

4. Hennessey Deserves His Place

Palace's win over Liverpool can, in large part, be attributed to the contribution made by Wayne Hennessey. His saves, and general awareness, helped Palace secure the three points against Liverpool. The Welshman made some crucial saves throughout the match.

As a Speroni 'fan' I can understand that Hennessey and Alex McCarthy are somewhat blighted by the fact that they're not Julian - but Wayne has taken his chance and is currently worthy of being Pardew's first choice - even if McCarthy didn't deserve to be dropped initially. 

Pardew says that he's delighted with the depth he has in goal. Some of our fans would do well to heed those words - it's been a while since Palace have had that kind of quality throughout the side - and our goalkeepers should be included in that assessment. 

5. Wickham Return is Pleasing 

Connor Wickham would call the last two months frustrating. Following Palace's win against Chelsea at the end of August - a game in which Wickham played excellently - the striker suffered an injury which seemed to suffer complications - meaning Palace lacked a striker adept at playing the central role in a 3-man attack. While Fraizer Campbell has deputised, and Bolasie and Sako have also had a go, it's been a glaring issue for Pardew and the club. 

Wickham's return to the side as a substitute was a pleasing development - the striker looked a little rusty but now has two weeks more of training to get himself in fighting form. His contribution at Anfield was what was required - a holding, controlling, forceful presence that changed how Liverpool had to defend. It was a pleasing cameo appearance worthy of praise. 

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