Crystal Palace vs Liverpool: Team news, expected line-ups, score prediction and more | Premier League 2019-20
Liverpool have taken the Premier League by storm this season and would want to extend their mammoth eight-point lead over the rest of the pack. Jurgen Klopp's side have been in top form this season, and their win at Anfield against defending champions Manchester City last match-week only validates this winning mentality.
But they are up against Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace, who have a reputation of sorts against the 'big six' in the English league. An away win at Old Trafford and a stunning comeback from two goals down to hold city rivals Arsenal at the Emirates have defined Palace's season so far.
Hodgson's Palace side have done fairly well against top oppositions in his tenure so far and come Saturday, he would want more of the same.
The Eagles are 12th in the league table and have dropped down in recent games. They have been guilty of some errors at the back, but the larger concern would be their attack, which has only scored 4 times at home this season.
Wilfried Zaha has looked a shade of his former self and would want to put all the transfer talk behind his back and put up a spirited display post the international break. Andros Townsend has also been off-colour this season, and the gaffer might want to look at other options in his squad. Gary Cahill has been a revelation and would be tasked with keeping the Reds' attackers at bay.
Liverpool, on the other hand, seem to be on course to lift their first League title since 1989. Klopp's side have continued from where they left off last season, dropping only two points in the league so far, and would like to add another three to their kitty.
Their attack has a great conversion rate, scoring 28 goals from 33 big chances created in the League this season. The side also boasts of an 82% passing accuracy this season. But Klopp would be wary of the fixture congestion in December, and it would be wise to keep rotating the squad to keep his best players match-fit for the bigger games.
Minor injuries to some key players for the away side combined with a Palace side known for causing big upsets make this an interesting clash.
Team News and Expected Line-up
With no major injury concerns, Hodgson is expected to field a full-strength line-up. Palace have not scored in their last two games, which both ended in identical 2-0 defeats. Hence, Zaha and Jordan Ayew will be key to solving their attacking woes.
One positive for the South London club is that they are defensively stable, and have only conceded more than twice on one occasion this season (vs Tottenham in September). Gary Cahill has done well at the back, and Vincente Guaita has made some stunning saves too. Patrick Van Aanholt, who hasn't been at his best in recent games, will have to step up against Liverpool if Palace are to expect something from the game.
But with Townsend having been uninspiring over the past few weeks, Hodgson may be tempted to start former Liverpool man Christian Benteke on the right side. Benteke offers a different, more direct approach in attack, and, with Liverpool playing a makeshift left-back, could make an impact there.
Doubtful: Wilfried Zaha, James Ward
Predicted Line-up (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur; Benteke, Ayew, Zaha
Minor injuries to Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson would mean that Jurgen Klopp will have to play other make-shift options. James Milner should slot in as left-back for this game, with no other realistic options to replace Robertson.
With Firmino and Alisson having played for Brazil in Abu Dhabi over the international break, Klopp may think twice before starting them. Although skipper Jordan Henderson withdrew from the England squad with a virus, he should be back for this Saturday's match.
Another interesting call to make for Klopp would be about Joe Gomez. The England centre-back was in the middle of all kinds of drama over the international break and pulled out of the away tie in Kosovo with a thigh strain. If it is serious, Klopp would have to start out-of-favour Dejan Lovren at the back with Virgil Van Dijk, as Joel Matip has also been sidelined with injury for the past few weeks.
But there is good news for the 'Kop', in the form of Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss international returned to training earlier this week, but expecting him to start a game would be too much at this stage.
Injured: Salah, Robertson, Clyne, Matip
Doubtful: Gomez, Firmino, Alisson
Predicted Line-up (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Milner; Keita, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Origi, Mane
Player battles to watch out for
Gary Cahill vs Divock Origi: In the likelihood of Firmino being absent, Divock Origi will be responsible to lead the Reds' attack. But he would be up against former Chelsea and England defender Gary Cahill, who has emerged as the leader of Palace's backline in recent games. Hodgson's tactics are based on strong defensive organisation, and Cahill is key to this palace side.
James McArthur vs Fabinho: Fabinho scored a banger of a goal at Anfield last match-week, and would be keen to continue that form at Selhurst Park. As company, he will have Gini Wjnaldum, who scored a hat-trick for the Dutch National Team in the international break. It would be a herculean task for Crystal Palace's James McArthur to contain this dynamic duo.But if the Scot does put in a solid shift against Liverpool, the Eagles have a much bigger chance of surprising Klopp's side on the counter.
Wilfried Zaha vs Trent Alexander-Arnold: Zaha was 'pocketed' by Chelsea youngster Reece James in their previous outing, and would be up against another young and skilful English right-back in Trent. With Trent often venturing forwards, it would be Zaha's job to get into the space between the right-back and centre-back to exploit the possible weak-link in Dejan Lovren.
Liverpool dominate this fixture with 29 wins to Palace's 14. These two have also played out 11 draws.
The Reds have won the last four league meetings, including a 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park last August and a thrilling 4-3 encounter at Anfield earlier this January.
Sadio Mane enjoys playing this opposition and has scored more goals against Palace than any other opposition in the Premier League. (7 goals in 9 games)
Crystal Palace famously dented Liverpool's title hopes in 2014, coming back from three goals down to hold the Merseyside club, leaving many of their players and fans in tears.
Score Predictions :
With Andy Robertson out, most of the crossing would be from the right side via Trent Alexander-Arnold. If Gary Cahill can cope with Origi's physicality in front of the goal, Palace could avoid conceding.
But for them to cause an upset win, their attack would have to fire. Zaha and Ayew would have to share the goal-scoring responsibilities, which would be no mean feat when they're up against Van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
Liverpool are on a hot streak, both in England and in Europe. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the absence of Mo Salah and Robertson. With a crucial Champions League encounter against Napoli next Wednesday, continuing the momentum post the international break will be key.
Although Palace do pose a challenge, expect Liverpool to edge them late in the game.
Final Score: Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool
(All the statistics used in this article are from the Premier League website)
Published 23 Nov 2019, 10:13 IST