Another week in the Premier League, another frustrating draw for Liverpool football club. This time they drew against Crystal Palace, Monday night at Anfield. Luis Díaz rescued the point with a stunning strike in the 61st minute for the short-handed Reds.
But the story tonight was Darwin Núñez's red card. The new 85 million pound showpiece for Liverpool headbutted Palace center-back Joachim Andersen in the 57th minute and was sent off. The Uruguayan will now likely miss the next 3 Liverpool matches.
The suspension will definitely include next week's match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. It also would include the August 27th match against Bournemouth and the August 30th match versus Newcastle United, both at Anfield. He would be eligible to return on September 3rd at Goodison Park against Everton. All signs point to the English FA upholding the suspension, regardless of any appeal.
Luis Díaz and the team responded immediately after Núñez's gaff to tie the game. However, their efforts to find a winner were turned away every time by a strong Crystal Palace defense. Even down to 10 men, the Reds still had the majority of possession for the match.
Liverpool has started the season with 2 consecutive draws which can't sit well with anyone who plays for, works for, or supports the team. Credit Crystal Palace, known to their fans as the Eagles, for sticking to their plan for the Reds and snapping the 10-game Liverpool winning streak.
Despite our prediction for goals, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira set up a very defensive system. Starting 3 center backs and playing with 2 wing backs. This effectively gave Palace 5 defenders for the match. The change in form for Palace was mostly successful and frustrated Liverpool all night.
Liverpool dominated play from the first kick of the ball. They were on the front foot early, pressing Crystal Palace for much of the first 30 minutes. Darwin Núñez was active from the start, including shooting a ball over the Palace goal in the 9th minute.
However, Palace dealt with the early Liverpool pressure well. Their 3-center back combo of Andersen, Joel Ward, and Marc Guéhi bent at times in the early going but didn't break.
The Reds kept trying to find the right combination to unlock the Eagles' back line. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson kept trying to feed balls into the middle. Mohamed Salah almost found the goal in the 23rd and 30th minutes. The first ball was fired just wide right of the goal. Salah's second chance was headed directly at Crystal Palace's goalkeeper Vincente Guaita.
Crystal Palace's chances up until that point were limited, but they made it count when they got one. In the 32nd minute, the Eagles' perennial talisman, Wilfried Zaha scored on a counterattack.
Guaita recovered the ball after another Liverpool try into the box. He sent it quickly upfield, where midfielder Eberechi Eze made a slick play through to Zaha. Zaha ran in on goal and fizzed the ball low to Alisson's left for Crystal Palace's first goal of the 2022/23 season.
The goal shocked the fans at Anfield. The run of play up until that point had suggested that Liverpool would score first. The home team and their supporters were visibly shaken. The team took the rest of the half to get back into the game. For a while, the Liverpool fans were largely drowned out by the always loud Crystal Palace supporters that had come up from South London.
Darwin Núñez nearly drew Liverpool even in first-half stoppage time. He looped a pass in from Harvey Elliott over the Crystal Palace keeper but caught the far post in the dying seconds of the half. Núñez was very good in the first half, showing why he could be starting matches for Liverpool. The second half would show why he might not be ready to start.
The 2nd half started simply enough. It was similar to the beginning of the first half, with Liverpool demonstrating why they are one of the top teams in the world. The Reds kept probing at the Crystal Palace defense, and the Eagles could only try to find offense on the counterattack.
You could sense that the Anfield fans were getting frustrated around the 54th minute. This would be a sign of things to come. 3 minutes later, Núñez lost his cool after a challenge by Andersen in the box. Andersen did his part by provoking the big striker with a shove in the back but, it doesn't excuse Núñez from turning around and headbutting him.
Núñez showed why Jürgen Klopp has been right to be hesitant to give him the start and let him play the full 90 minutes. Núñez showed his youth and inexperience in a heated exchange with the known instigator in Andersen. Still, his sending-off was shocking and potentially cost the team at least 2 points.
Referee Paul Tierney immediately showed the red card. It stunned an already edgy Liverpool crowd. It looked bad for the Reds at that point but, it would be Luis Díaz to the rescue just 4 minutes later.
Díaz took the ball in from the left side of the box. He would challenge at least 5 Crystal Palace defenders before ripping the ball towards the goal. Guaita took flight but the ball flew into the goal in the top corner. Anfield erupted with the first real feeling that the Reds might be able to continue their recent dominance over the Eagles.
It was Luis Díaz who kept Liverpool in the match. Even playing short-handed, the Reds had multiple opportunities to get the winning goal and many of them came through him. Liverpool got at least 20 chances toward the goal for the match. They also dominated possession 73% to 27%.
In the dying moments, Salah and Fabio Carvalho both saw golden opportunities go wide. If Liverpool is going to get on track, they are going to have to start putting these chances in the back of the net. They had the ball too much to be held to yet another draw.
Man Of The Match and What's Next
You could argue the person who affected this match the most was Crystal Palace's, Joachim Andersen. He led the Palace backline that frustrated the Reds all night long and he drew Núñez into a foolish confrontation.
However, the Man of the Match was Luis Díaz. He took it upon himself to score an amazing goal that got Liverpool back into the match. Díaz brought a lot of energy to the team and very nearly led them back.
Liverpool has yet another Monday night game on tap next week. Except for this time they travel to Old Trafford to face a desperate Manchester United. Not only do they have to face their all-time rivals, but they also have to do it without Darwin Núñez. It's not getting any easier…
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips,Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Elliott, Salah, Núñez, Díaz
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Clyne, Ward, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Eze, Doucouré, Schlupp, Zaha, Ayew
MOTM: Luiz Díaz