No rest on the immediate horizon for Liverpool, who are set to play one crucial match after another for the rest of February and most of March. Last season saw Brendan Rodgers' side were out of every competition other than the Premier League by this point, and while their league standing added plenty of pressure, there wasn't nearly as much physical strain placed on what was, in hindsight, a very thin squad.
This is what they asked for, though, and while they're out of contention for the League Cup they're still alive in the FA Cup by virtue of their late win in the fourth round replay over Bolton. That earned them the right to face new manager Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace side at Selhurst Park, the site of two of Liverpool's more painful results in the last calendar year. Palace secured progress at the first time of asking in the last round with a 3-2 win at Southampton in a match that saw all five goals scored in the first half.
Pardew's lost just once in the seven matches he's overseen, a narrow 1-0 defeat to Everton on the final day of January. He should have a strong side available tomorrow despite the likely absences of Yaya Sanogo, Mile Jedinak, Scott Dann, Lee Chung-young, and Shola Ameobi. Frazier Campbell scored in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle last time out and should be in the mix in attack along with Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle, who's scored in each of the three fixtures against Liverpool since Palace's promotion.
On Wednesday night, Julain Speroni started in goal with Joel Ward, Brede Hangeland, Damien Delaney, and former Liverpool defender Martin Kelly in defense, Joe Ledley and James McArthur in central midfield, with Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha wide and Chamakh and Sanogo up top. Gayle and Campbell came off the bench along with Yannick Bolasie, who had only just returned from international duty at the African Cup of Nations.
Lovren Skrtel Sakho
Manquillo Can Henderson Enrique
The injury to Steven Gerrard in the second half against Spurs means that he joins Lucas, Brad Jones, and Jon Flanagan on the injury list, and questions remain about whether or not Raheem Sterling will be available after missing out with a foot injury. No other problems were noted in the buildup, but as with the midweek match, one that could (and should) see a few regulars rested. Jordon Ibe is again ineligible after featuring previously in the competition while on loan at Derby County.
Brendan Rodgers is forced into a few changes here somewhere, and it's likely that he rings in a few through the defense and midfield. As much as he's talked about wanting to keep Emre Can in defense, now seems as good a time as any to give Dejan Lovren his first start in months, and that would either push Can into the midfield or the bench for a rest. If Lovren does come in he should be the only change across the three-man back line, with Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho retaining their places along with Simon Mignolet in goal.
Shifting Can to the midfield, which he's done to great effect late in matches the last few weeks, is intriguing enough to be hoped for, even if it does threaten the balance that's been found of late. He would join either Jordan Henderson or Joe Allen if he does move forward, and while Henderson has logged a significant number of minutes (along with most everyone else), he's clearly preferred to Allen and should get the start if it's between the two. Jose Enrique could be set for a return on the left opposite one of Javier Manquillo, Lazar Markovic, or, if he doesn't start in central defense, Glen Johnson.
After another 90 minutes on Tuesday, Philippe Coutinho will hopefully start on the bench tomorrow night, and if Sterling comes back into the squad, that leaves Rodgers with him, Markovic, and Adam Lallana to choose from in the slots behind the striker, and one of Daniel Sturridge or Mario Balotelli (or both, or neither, with Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini available as well) up top. Lallana should start after coming on late against Spurs, while Sterling will likely play if fit. Sturridge's minutes still need managing, and while he's certain to feature, it would be nice to see if Balotelli has any sort of momentum after getting his first Premier League goal earlier in the week.
Kickoff is set for 5:30PM GMT/12:30PM EST on Saturday, with BT Sport airing the match live in the UK and Fox Soccer Plus providing coverage in the US. Our coverage will continue with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into live coverage tomorrow, with team sheets an hour before kickoff, full viewing options, and post-match reaction. If you haven’t already, sign up for an SBNation account and join us for it.