Patrick Vieira’s setup delivers against the odds as Crystal Palace earn stunning point against Liverpool

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If you’re ever looking for evidence that football is a dumb, illogical game, then consider the baffling arc of this game.

For 32 minutes here at Anfield, it looked like Patrick Vieira had it all wrong as his usually buoyant Crystal Palace side were stifled in passivity by what appeared to be an overly conservative setup. That was until, out of nowhere, the same master plan that had seemed like a dud suddenly clicked perfectly and Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring at the end of the Eagles’ first real attack, a devastating counter.

Midway through the second half, a moment of stupidity from Darwin Nunez saw the Reds’ marquee summer signing sent off on his home debut and gave Palace the advantage of the man who probably should have put them on. on course for a famous win.

Instead, however, adversity galvanized Jurgen Klopp’s side and the Anfield crowd, and prompted a wonderful equalizer from Luis Diaz to earn a 1-1 draw and a share of the points.

As in their first loss to Arsenal, Palace had spent the first half hour struggling to get out of their own final third, but here it seemed they were as much limited by Vieira’s design as by the brilliance of the opposition.

He won’t be the only manager to come to Anfield this season and reign supreme, but his deep 4-5-1 formation has seen the Eagles sit against a Liverpool side who had been so shaken by the intensity of Fulham’s press in their own disappointing opener, a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.

The low block did little to contain a rival able to get around it playing straight into Nunez’s chaotic figure, while defenseless to do, Trent Alexander-Arnold ran the game from, nominally, right-back as only he can.

Nunez blazed high with a volley to the back post, Salah swerved away from the near post, both coming off Alexander-Arnold’s deliveries, while Harvey Elliott teased and twinkled twice but picked the wrong moment to press the trigger. The moment Alexander-Arnold lifted an outrageous sand wedge from a pass behind for Salah to head straight for Guiata, two things seemed certain: that Liverpool would soon score the game’s first goal and that the England full-back would be one of them. the creator.

Most head-scratching of Vieira’s selections was Zaha’s deployment as a lonely and very lonely leader. From a wide midfield position, the Ivorian’s ability to take the ball deep, drive and win free-kicks could have offered an outlet for Palace but sent into Virgil van Dijk’s field he had to barely got a kick.

It turned out, however, that as they once said of his legendary mentor at Arsenal, Vieira knew better.

Eberechi Eze snuck inside Fabinho too easily to launch the kind of counter-attack the Brazilian is usually so good at smothering at the source – and the kind Vieira must have dreamed of when plotting pre-match on his tactical board. Eze released Zaha, who had wisely pulled away from Van Dijk and timed his run behind Nat Phillips to perfection, before heading home with conviction.

And indeed, it was the belief, as much as a lead, that the goal seemed to give his Palace team-mates renewed faith in Vieira’s thinking, extra tenacity and aggression in their defence.

Darwin Nunez was shown a straight red for a brainless headbutt

/ Paul Greenwood/Shutterstock

Zaha remained an isolated figure for the most part, but missed a golden chance to double the lead with a loose touch when revived.

Liverpool, meanwhile, looked increasingly frustrated as the game wore on and less and less likely to find a way until, bizarrely, when they lost their goalscorer by 64. million pounds.

The Uruguayan’s headbutt of Joachim Andersen was stupid and will have lasting consequences, given he will be out of an already injury-ravaged squad throughout a three-match suspension.

Klopp didn’t recognize the 23-year-old when he finally left, needing plenty of encouragement from James Milner to do so, but the home crowd, no doubt angered by Andersen’s exaggerated contact, chanted Nunez’s name.

They may not be so forgiving after watching a replay tonight, but the perceived, if not feigned, injustice completely changed the mood and Diaz fired back with a sensational strike after crossing the box.

Zaha fended off another chance to retake the lead, finding the outside of the post going off the track, but for the most part it was the ten men who looked the most likely winners.

Their final attack deep in stoppage time was halted, ridiculously, by a running pitch invader from the local. It infuriated Klopp – and made about as much sense as the rest of this game.


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