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Same Old Mistakes Undo Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool in Palace Defeat

Published by Bleacher Report on Mon, 24 Nov 2014

Liverpool's twelfth game of the season saw them suffer a sixth defeatlosing 3-1 at Crystal Palacemaking this officially their worst start to a Premier League season since 1992-93, worse than under Graeme Souness (1993-94) and Roy Hodgson (2010-11), when both were sacked.It's an incredible turnaround, for all the wrong reasons, from six months agowhen Liverpool then arrived at Selhurst Park they still had a chance of winning the title. Now it looks more likely that Rodgers will be sacked by the new year than Liverpool re-qualify for the Champions League under him this season.The truth is, if Rodgers is eventually sacked, he can have few excuses.That's primarily because the same issues are arriving week in, week out. The same players are at fault; the same players are played and given priority despite not performing. There are no signs of improvementa stark contrast to Rodgers' first season at the club. If anything, performances as a team and individually are going backwards.GerrardLet's get this one out of the way from the start. Steven Gerrard is arguably Liverpool's greatest ever player, but right now there are at least two other players who deserve to be starting ahead of him in the holding midfield role (Emre Can and Lucas Leiva).I've covered this in more detail before for B/R, but it's pretty clear that Gerrard is not capable of performing in the role as he was for the second half of last season. He has constantly been targeted by opponents, dragged out of position then the space behind him exposed. Palace did it again, Chelsea did it last time out, West Ham and Aston Villa did it earlier this season. It's not hard to do.The fact Gerrard played the full 90 minutes, with Joe Allenone of, if not Liverpool's most effective player on the dayinstead withdrawn for Emre Can, is quite frankly laughable. Gerrard has played 90 minutes of every Premier League game this season, it doesn't matter how badly he plays or is exposed, Rodgers refuses to sub his captain.It's also not fair to Gerrard, Rodgers is ruining the final year of his Anfield career by playing him this way. He's leaving him woefully exposed.Lovren and SkrtelThe 20 million summer signing Dejan Lovren continues his one-man mission to make more errors leading to goals than any other Premier League defender in the league's history. There was another here for Palace's second goal. Not content with being dragged out wide and leaving the middle completely open, Lovren then got caught the wrong side and fell over.That Rodgers thinks Lovren and Martin Skrtel are his best centre-back pairing is a sackable offence in itself. That and his failure at any point during his management to give Liverpool any defensive solidity.Skrtel was another calamity waiting to happen, making Dwight Gayle look like Lionel Messi. At fault by giving the free-kick away for the third goal when there was no need to overly manhandle the forward.Last time Lovren, Skrtel and Johnson lined up together in the capital they made Bobby Zamora and his Queens Park Rangers side look like Real Madrid. Palace were without a win in their last five games but again Liverpool made them look good.The same mistakes are abundantly clear every week. Nothing is changing and seemingly little is being done to correct them.Liverpool's defensive triangle of Gerrard, Lovren and Skrtel looks more fragile than any other in the Premier League.ShapeRodgers began by pushing Raheem Sterling higher up, centrally, alongside Rickie Lambert and bringing back the midfield diamond shape supporters have been yearning for. It wasn't the best, but at least the scores were level at half-time.For the second halfRodgers changed to 4-2-3-1, a shape that has left the side looking flat and void of attacking threat in recent weeks. It resulted in the same outcome.Managers need to make changes that win games, not lose them. Rodgers was doing this last season, now it's the complete opposite. Surely the original 4-1-2-1-2 shape deserved more than 45 minutes.Same ProblemsThe same problems are apparent every week: a lack of physical presence, especially in midfield, a goalkeeper who cannot kick the ball or catch a cross (not helped by the lack of a quality goalkeeping coach) and the same players, despite being out of form, being played each game.Glen Johnson over Alberto Moreno' Johnson looks like a player who knows he's leaving the club in a few months and continues to put in poor performances.Rodgers dropped/rested/ rotated the likes of Johnson, Gerrard and Lovren against Real Madrid, but brought them all back for the two games since.With a crucial Champions League game in Bulgaria on Wednesday, what will the boss do now' He can't drop them all again, only to bring them back in against Stoke City next weekend.Read more World Football news on BleacherReport.com
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