Crystal Palace were 'humiliated' but where do they go from here?
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The Premier League mid-table vortex can be an infinite black hole, albeit an extremely comfortable one, where the sweet nectar of a top-flight television package is desperately desirable.  

However, at Selhurst Park there is a gluttony for more, an insatiable hunger that Crystal Palace can start to carve away at the Premier League establishment. But whilst Roy Hodgson remains in charge, a reserved, cautious approach is ruling supreme.  

Palace were outclassed by Liverpool on Saturday afternoon. They were played off the pitch without hesitation, and the level of difference in class was awe-inspiring, as Jurgen Klopp's men validated their authority over the chasing pack in the Premier League title race.

The decimation began early on, as Roy Hodgson's side allowed Liverpool to dictate the game at their pace, controlling the midfield battle and rendering the Eagles' defence motionless to their pressurised onslaught. 

Despite The Reds taking the lead after two minutes though Takumi Minamino, Palace looked the more ferocious side in the initial stages of the first half. But once again, without Christian Benteke, Palace's attacking aptitude lacked passion, meaning and any form of desire.  

Jordan Ayew's start to the season presented Benteke with the chance to resurrect his career. Nevertheless, with Benteke suspended due to the dubious red card he picked up against West Ham, the weighty responsibility of the goal scoring prowess fell upon the shoulders of Ayew. 

The Ghanaian lacked confidence, which was highlighted when he was presented with a one-on-one opportunity with Alisson, but chose to cut the ball back to Wilfried Zaha, with a wayward pass that eluded the on-rushing Ivorian.  

After the flurry of Palace attacks, Liverpool took charge of the game, ruthlessly scoring their second and third before half time, stunning Palace into submission.

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Jurgen Klopp's side were utterly dominant, relentless and tenacious in the second half, clinically killing the Eagles off, taking their tally to an emphatic seven and inflicting the Eagles' largest home defeat in the clubs 115-year history.  

What should have Hodgson changed?  

The rigid 4-4-2 formation that Roy Hodgson has deemed the revolutionary way of playing, which he hopes can propel the south Londoners to new heights, cost him the game.  

When lining up against a side that does not boast the firepower of Liverpool's front three, then a two-man pivot in the midfield is certainly the way forward; it offers more going forward and allows Palace's attacking fluidity to flow with ease. 

But against Liverpool, it was the main downfall, with Palace's midfield was crying out for an extra body to help in the fight against the intimidating Jordan Henderson, Naby Keïta and Georginio Wijnaldum.  

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It was in some ways naive to line up against The Champions in this fashion, taking into account the fact that James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic, the guardians of Palace's midfield, had started three games in six days. 

With the expandable squad at Hodgson's disposal, a change in personnel and system could have been the saving grace from Saturday's pitiful performance. 

Palace's defensive problems 

The consistent, reliable, arduous work ethic and tireless defensive structure that Roy Hodgson has drilled into his past Crystal Palace sides is slowly eroding into a distant memory.  

Having only picked up one clean sheet in fourteen games, Hodgson's predictable defensive solidity is fading and has become a damning indictment of Palace's main frailty this season.  

The south Londoners have conceded 25 goals thus far, with only West Bromwich Albion, a club that flew the white flag this week for Sam Allardyce to come and save the sinking ship, having a worse record.   

While Nathaniel Clyne has offered balance to the Palace's right side, the left continues to be a vulnerable point in Palace's defensive structure. 

Tyrick Mitchell received plaudits at the start of the season for his astute defensive nous, only allowing 9 goals in 6 games. As for Patrick van Aanholt, his determination to join in on every attack allows Palace to be susceptible at left-back, conceding 17 goals in 9 appearances.  

Both full-backs were put to the sword by Liverpool's swashbuckling attacking arrogance, which resulted in both Clyne and Van Aanholt capitulating under the purposeful pressure. 

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Another experiment which has run its course is playing midfielder by trade, Cheikhou Kouyaté, in a role at centre-back. The change of position paid dividends at the start of the season, while Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins and Gary Cahill returned from injury. However, against Liverpool, Kouyate's positional awareness was exposed, which saw him drawn to the ball on a number of occasions and allowing Roberto Firmino to orchestrate a ball in behind the Palace defence, unearthing the defensive foundations and resulting in a goal.  

Where do Palace go from here?  

"I can't think of anything positive to say at all. We just have to come over it, there's no point dwelling on it any longer than we really have to and learn some lessons from it. I'm sure we will," said Hodgson after the game. 

The mentality going into the game was evident from the nine substitutes named on the bench, six of which were defensive minded players, with only Andros Townsend and Michy Batshuayi having a sliver of attacking ambition about their style of play. 

Football is a fickle game, and in a campaign where Palace have returned their best points tally after thirteen games in any top-flight season, finding themselves above ArsenalBurnley and Sheffield United, all sides that finished higher up the table than Palace in 2019/20, there is still reason to be optimistic. 

Palace have to find a response. They can look at the resurgence of Southampton, following their 9-0 defeat to Leicester City last season, to see that it is possible to bounce back from these demoralising, disheartening and dismal displays. 

There will need to be a resilient character amongst the squad, which will have to search for the mindset that allowed Palace to crucify West Brom, earn a hard-fought point against title contenders, Spurs, and a draw with 10-men against West Ham United.

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