Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
| Wednesday, June 24th |
Premier League | Anfield
8:15PM BST / 3:15PM EST
After three months without proper football, fans need to recalibrate for quick turnarounds. With 35 days in which to play nine games, the coming months will be hectic, although much less stressful for the Reds and their supporters, since Liverpool had, mercifully, all but wrapped up the league well before the pandemic put the world in stasis.
Tomorrow’s opponents have it all to play for, as, with Manchester City facing a ban from European competition, a wildly improbable Champions League spot is only four points away, while qualification for the Europea League requires only an improvement in goal difference.
Naturally, these are both unlikely scenarios, but following a dominant win over Bournemouth on Saturday, an invigorated Roy Hodgson will undoubtedly set his side up to frustrate the Reds and hit them on the break tomorrow, with Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew, and former Liverpool slayer and player Christian Benteke all capable of punishing moments of indecision or laziness.
Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp, and James Tomkins all miss out with injuries, however, and the aging quartet who featured on Saturday will likely feel the lay-off in their legs after such a quick turnaround.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mané, Firmino, Salah
As expected following the long lay-off, the Reds suffered a few knocks in their return to action on Sunday, and both Joël Matip and James Milner look set to miss out with an injured foot and hamstring, respectively.
On the bright side, Andrew Robertson should be cleared to start, and as such, there is a good chance Jürgen Klopp can put out his strongest back four tomorrow, with Joe Gomez partnering Virgil van Dijk in central defence, and Trent Alexander-Arnold rounding out the quartet at right-back. Appearances from Dejan Lovren and Neco Williams aren’t our of the question, but would, on recent evidence, likely spell disaster.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both played 90 minutes on Sunday, and at least one is likely to be rested, while Naby Keïta, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battle it out for the remaining two spots.
Up top, Mohamed Salah should be ready for action, while either Sadio Mané or Roberto Firmino are candidates for a rest, particularly considering Takumi Minamino’s impressive cameo on Sunday.
At any rate, and as in the previous fixture, Klopp is likely to use all of his five subs, in order to stave off injuries and maintain freshness in the squad as they power through the end of the season.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “It is a game against a very, very good side. Roy is doing an incredible job there. The organisation of the team is really, really, really highest level.”
Roy Hodgson: “Nothing changes in terms of that quality of the opposition. The quality Liverpool have and the way they play, their organisation and determination to keep going despite the fact they’ve had the title in their pocket for quite a while.”
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt, Richard West
Fourth official: Mike Dean
VAR: Andre Marriner, Stephen Child
Kickoff is set for 8:15PM GMT/3:15PM 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.