CRYSTAL PALACE VS LIVERPOOL
| Monday, August 20th |
Premier League | Anfield
7:00 PM GMT / 8:00 PM BST / 3:00 PM EST
Manchester City show absolutely no signs of slowing down their Imperial March towards a second Death Star, despite having to leave Kevin De Bruyne home alone for a few months. It’s absolutely vital, then, that Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool keep pace with the leaders, and they’ll attempt to do just that during a Monday visit to Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.
There’s some buoyant energy at Selhurst Park at the moment, following Palace’s opening week victory over the newly-promoted Fulham. Perhaps more importantly for Palace’s long-term prospects, Wilfried Zaha (reportedly the subject of interest from several clubs over the summer) recently put pen to paper on a new long-term deal, which Klopp described as a “spectacular” deal for the London club.
On the pitch, James Tomkins and former Red Mamadou Sakho have proven to be a stellar defensive partnership in the middle of Palace’s back line, though they may have their hands full if Mo Salah, Sadio Mané & Co. maintain their momentum from the 4-0 thumping of West Ham.
Up front, Liverpool will likely have to contend with Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke, and the always troublesome Zaha, who opened his scoring account last week against Fulham. Klopp himself has publicly acknowledged the danger that Benteke and Zaha pose, and it’s a decent bet that Alisson might actually have to do a little work this time around, after enjoying a relatively quiet outing against West Ham.
Scott Dann remains one of the few long-term absentees from Hodgson’s squad as he recovers from a knee injury. Intriguingly, Palace were able to secure the services of young German midfielder Max Meyer from Schalke 04 this summer, and while the frequent transfer rumor subject is still gaining match fitness, he could make an appearance on the bench sooner rather than later.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keïta, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mané
In front of Liverpool’s keeper, it’s probably a bit of a question as to who will line up alongside Virgil van Dijk. Joe Gomez had a shaky moment or two during the opener, but otherwise held his own, so it’s not inconceivable that he might be called into action against Palace. With Ragnar Klavan having departed for the Serie A and with Dejan Lovren still dealing with a pelvic issue, the only other senior option is Joël Matip, who returned to training this week following his injury during the International Champions Cup.
In midfield, it’s tough to argue with the job that Naby Keïta, James Milner, and Gini Wijnaldum did last weekend, but Jordan Henderson and Fabinho are very much in the picture, and at some point soon one or both of them will be starting in the middle for Liverpool. We can probably expect to see Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri among the more lethal tools Klopp can call upon from the bench.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “They’ve grown as a group. Roy is doing a fantastic job there. As a player, I saw a lot of videos from Switzerland. Roy Hodgson was more or less one of the investors of this kind of defending. And now he’s back on track with that, so [they will be] a very well-organized side. That will be a tough challenge, but that’s how it is.”
Roy Hodgson: “Of course I watched the West Ham game and they were very impressive that day. They were as impressive as I expected them to be. They’ve got stronger and stronger through the season. It’s Jürgen Klopp’s third full season and those seasons give you transfer windows. I think in each of the transfer windows they’ve been steadily improving on the players they have, as well as improving the players who are already there.”
Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Simon Bennett, Scott Ledger Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh
Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.