Liverpool sick of the sight of Palace & Benteke as Kop flop leaves top-four hopes in disarray

Christian Benteke Crystal Palace Liverpool
Christian Benteke returned to haunt and hurt the Reds by scoring both goals in a 2-1 victory for Sam Allardyce's side at Anfield


According to Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool had done the “right things in the right moments” at Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion but in Sunday’s hosting of Crystal Palace, the manager was left to stomach the opposite. 

Benteke double stuns Liverpool

“You must be sick of us!” came the victorious cry from the away end, who celebrated a third consecutive Premier League win at Anfield - the first team to do so since Chelsea in 2005.

HD Christian Benteke goal

And Christian Benteke, a stylist mismatch at Liverpool, showed exactly how lethal he can be in a side geared to feed his strengths. 

The 26-year-old, who left Merseyside for Selhurst Park in the summer, struck both Palace goals to render another phenomenal Philippe Coutinho effort pointless. The Belgium international’s double took his tally as an opposition player at the ground to five goals, surpassing the four he managed here in a Red shirt.

Premier League scores and table

Klopp had singled Benteke out as the biggest threat to his team ahead of the fixture, yet instead of Liverpool being obstructive, they made it easy for him to thrive. 

HD Benteke celebrates

"He is an outstanding striker, but if you leave him alone like we did, then he maybe doesn't need to use all his skill," the Reds boss reflected post-match.

The “adult football” that was present in the club's previous testing two fixtures deserted them in front of their own fans. When Palace started to twist, Klopp’s men folded instead of displaying the kind of fight needed to fortify their Champions League ambitions.

Benteke's remarkable Anfield record

In the adjacent dugout, Sam Allardyce watched the Eagles execute his plan to perfection as he recorded a maiden top-flight win at Anfield.

HD Sam Allardyce

"Liverpool, at home, play a superbly attacking style in terms of football, which means both full-backs will go right up the pitch - it’s very similar to Arsenal," he explained.

"It means that [Joel] Matip and [Dejan] Lovren are very exposed. Because they’re very exposed in that position, if you get the right runners in behind then the two big men don’t like turning and running back towards their own goal, which is exactly where Yohan Cabaye came in today.

"The ball over Lovren’s head to Cabaye completely left those two centre-halves for dead.

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"Then you ask your players to deliver the quality that you need in the Premier League, and Yohan's ball to Christian Benteke was absolutely outstanding. It happened against just two minutes after that, but this time we didn’t score.

"On the corner, everybody knows Liverpool are pretty weak. They’ve conceded six off corners, which we told the lads about. It’s now seven off that corner that's got us the winner."

HD Phil Coutinho Roberto Firmino

The eventual result wasn't always on the cards, however, especially after Coutinho added to his collection of remarkable strikes from distance.

The Brazilian placed the ball before analysing the far corner, taking a three-step run up and curling his free-kick on 24 minutes over the wall and into the area he had anticipated.

As soon as it cleared the wall, he had turned to celebrate in the knowledge that he had calculated the set-piece superbly.

Emre Can had an opportunity to double Liverpool’s advantage after clever work from James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum, but couldn’t master his judgement as well as his team-mate, horribly shanking his shot to the left. 

HD Coutinho free kick

A few minutes later, the German’s annoyance over that miss only intensified as Benteke scored his sixth goal in eight appearances against his former employers. 

Lovren allowed Cabaye to deliver a lovely ball across the box, which the Belgian charged on to before beating his international team-mate Simon Mignolet. 

The striker headed to the bench and celebrated with Mamadou Sakho, who was ineligible to play against his parent club. For those that continually ask why the defender has no future under Jurgen Klopp, that episode provided another reason to add to a lengthy list of his unprofessionalism. 

HD Christian Benteke Mamadou Sakho

The second half started with Liverpool pushing head back in front and carving out several chances to do so, with Coutinho and Roberto Firmino heavily involved. 

But their inability to punish Palace when in the ascendancy saw the visitors happily take advantage when the Reds became too passive. 

Liverpool failed to deal with a corner and Benteke was once again on hand to hurt their non-defending and to increase his personal tally against them.

Lovren and Matip had been unbeaten in the 13 league games they started together previously, but were undone by Allardyce's decision to target them.

The former was particularly woeful on Sunday with errors in the build-up to both goals. Klopp said there was "absolutely no excuse" for the Reds being so poor in those situations.

HD Jurgen Klopp

"We gave them an opportunity out of nothing for the first goal," he said.

"You could see immediately their confidence grew in this moment, they started playing football. We did it again out of nothing, we gave the corner away."

In truth, there were far too many below-par performances from a team that have designs on mixing it with Europe’s elite.

The run-in still favours Liverpool, but they need to stop being their own biggest enemies.

"I’ve said it now five or six times, I know a lot of people around think now ‘Oh my god, Champions League slips through our fingers again’… only if we let it slip," Klopp insisted. 

"We have to try everything, we will try everything. Our job is to squeeze everything out of this season that we can squeeze. Obviously it is not easy for us, but that’s no surprise."