CRYSTAL PALACE VS. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, February 25th |
Premier League | Selhurst Park
7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST
Crystal Palace have had a mixed season so far, and will probably be left slightly disappointed by some of their results. They have yet to win in any competition so far in 2023, last beating relegation-form Bournemouth on New Years Eve — and prior to that, beating Southampton and West Ham at the end of October and early November.
They come into this match sitting in 12th place, with six wins, eight draws, and nine losses thus far in the league. They’ve conceded 31 goals in total, and have scored only 21. Though they’re six points clear of West Ham in 18th, the general tightness of the bottom half of the table means they’re not quite safe even if their current place would suggest it.
Palace have struggled with injuries this season, which will have impacted their form up to now. Wilfried Zaha and Tyrick Mitchell have returned to training, and Zaha will face a late fitness test to see if he will be able to face Liverpool.
Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone will be out with a calf injury, and Nathan Ferguson, who played 45 minutes with the U21s and has been in training, will likely still be out for Saturday’s match. James McArthur, however, has been in full training and will be a part of Palace’s matchday squad.
Though the results have been disappointing of late — they conceded an equalizer against Brentford last time out with effectively the last kick of the game — Vieira is confident that they can turn positive performances into wins, particularly with the help of the home crowd. With that in mind, they are likely pleased to play a Liverpool side, themselves hamstrung personnel-wise by a quick European turn-around, under the lights on a Saturday night.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Elliott, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Gakpo
Though Liverpool did not pick up any official new injuries in the mid-week match that we will not be talking about, there are some small “knocks” and general fitness questions that might require some changes in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Ibrahima Konaté is close to a return to the side, but head coach Jürgen Klopp insists that the Frenchman will not be rushed back — as such, do not expect to see him at the weekend.
Klopp kept the details close to the chest, not mentioning anyone in particular who might need to be rotated. The players who have just returned from injury — Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, and Virgil Van Dijk — were noted as “not at their best,” which could signal more recovery time or more minutes to play back into form.
Due to the slow buildup of games, we could see an unexpected name or two in the team sheet: Arthur Melo exists, for instance, or we could see the likes of James Milner in the starting line-up. Stefan Bajčetić had a mixed day at the office against Real Madrid, and might be handed a rest; Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, too, have put in a lot of minutes over the past week.
Up front I would expect one of the newly returned players to start, should fitness allow, with either Darwin Núñez or Cody Gakpo getting a rest. Regardless of the line-up, the Reds will hope to have enough to return to their winning streak in the league.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “All games from now on are Champions League qualifiers.”
Patrick Vieira: “I don’t think it’s the best time to play them. We’re talking about Liverpool Football Club, with what they’ve achieved in the last couple of years. Looking at the quality of the players that they have, they will want to bounce back straight away so there is no good time to play Liverpool.”
Referee: Darren England Assistants: Dan Cook, Dan Robathan Fourth Official: Steve Martin VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Richard West
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow. Stick with The Liverpool Offside team to keep yourself up to date with team news and match buildup, live updates, and post-match reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.