Unable to better last weekend’s thrilling 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Fulham, the Reds returned to Merseyside for another game filled with chaos. Darwin Nunez, on his full debut, was sent off for head-butting Palace’s Joachim Anderson early in the second half, leaving Luis Diaz to rescue a point with a spectacular strike.
Wilfried Zaha had given the Eagles a dream start with his team’s first shot after 32 minutes, putting Patrick Vieira ‘s counter-attacking game-plan into practice and causing Jurgen Klopp headaches throughout the dramatic evening.
Here are 5 talking points from Anfield.
Palace’s potent start
With half an hour on the clock, Sky Sports pulled up a graphic showing that Crystal Palace hadn’t had a single shot so far to Liverpool’s 11. Almost as if Wilfried Zaha heard Alan Smith declare that the Reds were well on top, the Eagles’ talisman immediately took it upon himself to change the game in an instant.
As against the run of play as you’re likely to see, Eberechi Eze latches on to Vicente Guaita’s long kick and slid Zaha through on goal with only himself, two Liverpool defenders and Alisson Becker in the entire half of the pitch. Using his speed to get beyond Virgil van Dijk, the 29-year-old produced an ice-cool finish at the Kop end and give Palace a shock lead.
Klopp’s early concern
For the past three years, you’d be hard-pressed to find any damning statistics about Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp‘s side have largely been imperious at home, rampant on the road and their players have come up trumps on countless occasions. But now the Reds boss has something seriously worrying staring him in the face.
Rather surprisingly, Liverpool have now gone behind in their last six Premier League games, dating back to April. Having trailed against Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Southampton and Wolves at the back end of last season, Fulham and Palace’s bright starts mean that the Reds must get better at coming out of the blocks – or it’s going to be a nervy campaign at Anfield.
Nunez sees red
As the second half dawned, there was a tension in the Merseyside air. That tension quickly led to some need between the teams, with Palace’s time-wasting antics getting to Liverpool – especially their new £85million signing. Darwin Nunez, who’d missed two good chances in the first half, saw red in more ways the one.
Lashing out at his marker, Joachim Anderson, the Uruguayan stunningly launched a clear head butt at the Eagles centre-back, giving Paul Tierney no other option but to send him off. Nunez had completely lost his head, having made such a bright start to his Anfield career with three goals in two games. Now he’ll miss the next three.
Diaz to the rescue
Get one star signing sent off? Don’t worry, just turn to your last one. Luis Diaz, the man who took the Reds’ season to the next level last time out scored a contender for goal of the month to equalise within five minutes of Nunez’s shock dismissal.
The tricky winger weaved his way inside from the left flank and took on five Palace men before rifling a shot past Guaita. Diaz’s strike single-handedly took the home fans from despair to delirium, as Liverpool were back on level terms with 30 minutes remaining – just with one less man.
While it wasn’t a night he’ll remember fondly for the result, Harvey Elliott gave his manager plenty of positives with a standout display. The playmaker, still only 19, has been tipped for stardom in years to come – but that time might already be now. Creating two chances, earned possession back seven times and won a game-high four tackles before his substitution in the 79th minute, Elliott put on a show for the Anfield crowd. Maybe Klopp doesn’t need to sign a midfielder after all.