CRYSTAL PALACE VS. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, December 8th |
Premier League | Selhurst Park
12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST
Crystal Palace will be without Tyrick Mitchell for Liverpool’s visit on Saturday, along with longer-term injuries keeping Cheick Doucouré, Rob Holding, Jes Rak-Sakyi, and Ebere Eze sidelined. Michael Olise, who is returning from a tricky injury, may need to be managed given the recent workload as manager Roy Hodgson struggles with a modest injury list that nonetheless includes a number of important starting players.
Though Hodgson walked back some of his stronger comments after his side’s disappointing loss at home to Bournemouth, he acknowledges Palace’s recent struggles. The Eagles come into Saturday’s match sitting 14th on the table, having won four in the league this season (most recently against Burnley at Turf Moor at the beginning of November, making it one win in eight outings since the start of October).
They have historically struggled against Liverpool, and at present are winless in 12 (2D 10L) since winning at Anfield back in 2017 (strangely, they haven’t beat Liverpool at home in the league since 2014). It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, however: the Reds failed to win in both league meetings last season, recording two 1-1 draws against Hodgson’s side.
This match marks the beginning of a tough period for Palace, with the likes of Manchester City, Brighton, and Chelsea next on the horizon. This difficult schedule is a mixed bag: Hodgson has no reason to hold back any players for less challenging opposition, but their disappointing recent results — losses to Everton (H), Luton (A), and Bournemouth (H) and a draw to West Ham (A) — could affect morale all the more with a tough spell ahead.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Szoboszlai, Endo, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Díaz
Though Palace have struggled this season, Liverpool have themselves been challenged on the road by struggling sides under Jürgen Klopp — if you find yourself a bit more worried about these early kickoffs to bottom half sides you’re not alone. In fact, Liverpool have won just one in seven early kickoffs away (this is since the start of last season if you’re wondering how long it took for the Reds to accrue seven away early kick-offs), so trepidation is reasonable.
Liverpool do come into Saturday’s match flying high, though, having accrued 59 points in the league over the last 26 games, which Opta points out is the highest such tally. The Reds have only lost once in this period: away to Tottenham Hotspur in September in a definitely normal game.
Injury issues are affecting Klopp’s side, however, with Alexis Mac Allister the most recent casualty after a severe cut that may rule him out for the weekend — though Mac Allister and Alisson are both late fitness tests. Joël Matip is, of course, out for the season with a heartbreaking ACL injury, and he joins Thiago, Andy Robertson, Stefan Bajcetic, and Diogo Jota on the list of unavailable players.
The Reds are resilient and will look to keep the pressure on league leaders Arsenal, especially after fellow challengers Manchester City lost away to Aston Villa — who are now third — midweek. Arsenal themselves face Villa away in Saturday’s late kickoff...
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “We have a job to do and that’s against Crystal Palace. Let’s be 100 per cent focused on that, what we are and what we will be. Then Sunday, I have no clue who plays on Sunday but then I will lie at home on the sofa in the afternoon and watch the other football games and will see what they do – more out of interest if we play them still and that’s it. But nobody became champion because he was top of the table on Saturday at 2.15pm, or whatever, on matchday 16. That doesn’t really help. But we need the points and we want to go for them, and that’s what we prepare for in this short space of time.”
Roy Hodgson: “We are certainly going to need the fans tomorrow playing Liverpool because it’s always a very tough game when you play Liverpool, either home or away. Certainly the fact that we are at home is one of our hopes that we’ll be able to give Liverpool a very good game because the fans will get behind the team. I think at times like this when things aren’t going well for a team, that’s when you really do appreciate that if you’ve got a fan base like we have that do get behind the team, that do care, that do keep singing and chanting.”
Referee: Andy Madley Assistants: Harry Lennard, Nick Hopton Fourth official: Tom Bramall VAR: John Brooks Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn
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