In what looks to be a rather ominous midweek trip to Anfield, we had a chat with Jack Sear to get his thoughts on the season for the Reds, the game itself and much more.
Q. The Premier League is back! That is a good thing, right? How do you think the Premier League have dealt with getting the season back on?
As long as the players and everyone involved in safe, it’s definitely a good thing. On the whole, I think the Premier League have done well. It seems ‘null and void’ was never an option and rightly so. I don’t see how you can totally void a season that was 75% completed! I’m glad the remaining games can be played instead of deciding the season with a points-per-game system, or something similar. I think once the Bundesliga came back and was fairly successful, things became easier. Hopefully everything goes smoothly in the coming weeks.
Q. It seems like a long time ago now, but if you can recall, what did you make of the game at Selhurst Park earlier in the season?
A very long time ago! Palace are always one of our toughest opponents of the season, home or away. The game at Anfield last season was a proper battle. From what I remember of the game at Selhurst, it was a huge relief when Mane finally broke the deadlock. Zaha’s equaliser was fully deserved but we found a way to grind out the three points eventually, as we’ve done so many times this season. Palace will probably feel they deserved something out of the game and understandably so. We’ve scored a lot of late winners in 2019-20!
Q. Liverpool are on the brink of their first league title for thirty years – how does it feel?
Brilliant, of course. It’s been a long, long time coming and it looks like we’re going to have to wait until next week at least, still! What we’ve achieved this season is crazy, really. We’ve blown everyone else out of the water. I was confident we’d go very, very close with the title this season having come so near last year. Vincent Kompany’s departure from Manchester City has left a big gap in their squad. This Liverpool team react well to near-misses, as we saw with the two consecutive Champions League finals. It’s unfortunate that the team won’t be able to celebrate with supporters for a while, but that’s just the way it has to be for now. I’m sure Liverpool fans across the globe will still make the most of it!
Q. After so many false dawns at Anfield in terms of management, why do you think Jurgen Klopp has been different compared with those that have been, tried and failed to bring back the glory years?
Where to start. Klopp is just the full package. The biggest thing he’s done is to develop a winning mentality within the club. They never know when they’re beaten. They go into each match expecting to win. It’s also crucial that he was given time. A lot of people forget, but things weren’t always so plain-sailing under Klopp. There’s still been a lot of below average performances and results along the way. But you could still see that we were progressing and building towards something. He’s still always looking at ways to improve. I hope he’s at Liverpool for many more years to come.
Q. There will be a number of contenders, but who is your Liverpool player of the season?
Very hard to pick one. I think Jordan Henderson will get it and deservedly so. He’s been at Liverpool throughout all of those difficult times I mentioned. Brendan Rodgers tried to flog him off to Fulham in a swap deal for Clint Dempsey! But above all, his performance level this season has been different class. He overcomes every challenge in his way. When the likes of Fabinho and Keita arrived, there was a big feeling that Henderson wouldn’t get as much game time, but he’s one of the first names on the team sheet. He’s also a class act off the pitch and, as the club captain, he’s been the real driving force behind this remarkable season. Sadio Mane is a close second and, although he hasn’t made as many headlines, I think Virgil van Dijk should definitely still be in the mix! He never has a bad game.
Q. The introduction of VAR this season has not gone to plan so far – what is your view of the system and how it is being used?
I think VAR is here to stay and I think that should be the case, albeit with some tweaks to how it’s being used. The handball rule is one that needs changing. Some of the goals that have been ruled out for handball this season have been ridiculous! People have short memories, though. Last season there was a lot of complaining about obvious mistakes from referees and officials. In this day and age they should have the extra help from the VAR and once some alterations have been made, I think it will be a positive addition to the Premier League.
Q. Who will finish top four and bottom three this season?
I think the top four will probably stay the same. Manchester United have a good looking run in but I think Chelsea will have enough to hold on to fourth spot. Leicester to stay in 3rd. As for the bottom three, tough one to call, but having watched Bournemouth and Villa in recent days, I think they’ll go down with Norwich. Bournemouth looked very poor against you guys and that Josh King injury is a blow. I must say, though, if West Ham stay up, I think they’ve been very lucky. There are a lot of very good players in their squad that are massively under-performing and, to me, the whole club looks a mess from top to bottom. Bizarre how David Moyes is their manager.
Q. What have you made of Palace this season?
Roy Hodgson definitely deserves credit for the job he’s done. I think you’ve improved on last season. Gary Cahill was a really good signing. I do wonder how good you’d be if you had a striker that scored 15 a season! As I say, Palace is always one of the most challenging games of the season for Liverpool and I think, out of the games we have left, this will be one of the toughest tests.
Q. Name one player from each side that will be the ones to watch in this fixture?
I’ll be boring here and go with two obvious options. Sadio Mane looked very sharp against Everton and I’m backing him to have a stronger finish to the season than Mo Salah, who should return from injury on Wednesday. As for Palace, Wilfried Zaha is always such a handful. Trent Alexander-Arnold has gone on record as saying he’s the toughest opponent he’s faced and that doesn’t surprise me one bit. Fail to deal with him properly on Wednesday and Liverpool could be in trouble.
Q. Your prediction?
I can see this being a cracker of a game. I fancy you to score, but Liverpool to nick it, just as they did at Selhurst. Liverpool 2-1 Palace.