For those thinking that this is a game that Liverpool should win, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Crystal Palace have a very good record against Merseyside’s finest. The South London side has lost just one of the last five meetings with Liverpool, a statistic that should prevent any overconfidence from the visitors.
Jürgen Klopp and Alan Pardew have faced each other twice in English football with the pair proving to be successful away from home. Pardew bested Klopp at Anfield 2-1 in November 2015, inflicting a first defeat in the Klopp era. Klopp returned the favour four months later at Selhurst Park—with the same scoreline for good measure—courtesy of a seemingly controversial Christian Benteke penalty.
It’s difficult to discuss tomorrow’s game without mentioning Christian Benteke—a striker who tormented Liverpool before he arrived for £32.5 million from Aston Villa. The Belgian international only stayed a season before leaving for Crystal Palace this past summer but has been positive and respectful about his time at Liverpool. A return of nine goals in 29 Premier League appearances last season wasn’t enough for a player who looked a poor fit but remains respectable. A goal every 169 minutes is superior to this season’s record of a goal every 208 minutes that translates to three goals in seven appearances.
Benteke, however, looks to be exactly what Crystal Palace need from a striker. Strikers receive a lot of excellent crosses, an approach that is perfect for a physical striker with such pronounced aerial capabilities. Only Southampton (696) put in more open play crosses than Crystal Palace (689) last season. The statistics illustrate that this was the right move for Benteke as he tops the league in aerial duels (64), and his teammate Andros Townsend has supplied the most crosses (76). Guess which team has put in the most crosses (264) in the Premier League this season. Liverpool’s weakness in defending set pieces will be tested by a team that will try to engineer set piece situations to profit from.
Predicted Starting Lineup (4-3-3):
Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner
Lallana, Henderson, Can
Mané, Firmino, Coutinho
James Milner will be assessed ahead of the trip down to London, Loris Karius will return in goal as first-choice, and Emre Can should keep his place in midfield to provide some much-needed physicality. Klopp confirmed that there are no new injuries apart from some minor knocks that he, perhaps unsurprisingly, sees as normal. Both Georginio Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge showed their quality in midweek but could feature from the bench.
Pape Souaré, Loïc Rémy, and Jonathan Benteke are unavailable for the game with doubts surrounding key figures in Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon. In the absence of the creative Puncheon, Yohan Cabaye has been pushed up in an advanced position as a number ten and scored last weekend. Palace are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as they have done in eight out of nine league games this season.
Liverpool are in fine form with useful experience against stubbornly defensive and physical sides in the past two league games. Four points from those two games indicate that Klopp’s side may not be as susceptible to physically dominant sides as some might suggest. Crystal Palace boast pace and verticality on the counter combined with a difficulty in scoring goals—an interesting combination.
The Eagles are also on a two-game losing streak in the league, whereas the Reds have won five and drawn two of the past seven league games. This will be another test of Liverpool’s credentials and progress this season.
Kickoff is set for 5.30PM BST/12.30PM EST tomorrow on BT Sport 1 in the UK and NBC Sports Live in the US. Elsewhere, Optus Sport in Australia, Sportsnet in Canada, Star Sports Select HD1 & Star Sports HD 4 Asia in India, SuperSport 3 Africa in Kenya, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, and 102 (HD) mio Stadium in Singapore are carrying the match. Online radio coverage is provided by BBC Radio 5 Live. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
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