Sunday 8th November 2015, 1600 GMT
On paper, this is supposed to be an a easya home fixture for Liverpool, sandwiched between League outings to Stamford Bridge and the Etihad. But Liverpool FC players and fans alike would be all too aware of their woeful record against the London club in recent times. The Eagles have won three out of their last five face-offs, with one draw as well. Who can forget the painful farewell game of Steven Gerrard, a match that ended with a 3-1 scoreline. And before that, in 2013-14 season, Crystal Palace produced an outstanding fight-back to go from 3-0 to 3-3, and put a nail in Liverpoola s title challenge.
Leta s not forget that only one point separates the two sides, with both having scored 12 goals so far, and Palace having conceded 11 to LFCa s 12. Still, Alan Pardew has been trying to make sure his side is being seen as the underdog in this fight, referring to Liverpool as a a top foura side.
Liverpool FC: Team News & Tactical Brief
Thankfully for Jurgen Klopp, for once this season he does not have any fresh injury victims going into this game. He is still without Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Kolo Toure, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez, but none of them have featured heavily in recent weeks anyway.
How aggressive is Jurgen Klopp feeling before this fixture? Thata s what will decide whether we see a 4-3-2-1 or a 4-2-3-1 on the pitch. The 4-3-2-1 will give the team a greater measure of control on the midfield, but with the 4-2-3-1 he has the option to play his best 4 attacking players together: Christian Benteke, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana. As mouth-watering as that line-up is, Klopp will probably vary of the wily Alan Pardew, and should stick to the 4-3-2-1 where he can more naturally accommodate hard working James Milner. Lucas Leiva and Emre Can are sure to be in midfield, with the Brazilian being an essential shield for the Liverpool back-4, which even Pardew considers the teama s “weak-link”.
Neither Adam Lallana nor Philippe Coutinho started in the mid-week game against Rubin Kazan, and will be expected to start behind Christian Benteke. Klopp has been talking about how hea s happy to have his players play each and every possible game, and how European games in mid-week will not mean players need to be rested:
“We played without Adam [Lallana], who is in unbelievable shape in this moment; we played without Phil [Coutinho], who had such a brilliant game at Chelsea. The two full-backs [Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno] have to run but they are getting better and better – these two guys need games. The best thing is that we have to learn.a a Jurgen Klopp
If Klopp goes for the 4-3-2-1 formation, Roberto Firmino could end up starting the game on the bench. In such a line-up, Can and Milner would have to be very mindful of their defensive duties, as they will have to support the full-backs. Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne will regularly charge forward to provide width, opening up a lot of space on the flanks. Crystal Palace are sure to target there areas whenever they counter.
If Palace decide to target Coutinho and restrict the space available to him (more on this later), Liverpool will have to ensure that players like Milner and Can are making the right forward runs, else the team will be easily stifled.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Mignolet (GK), Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno; Milner, Lucas, Can; Lallana, Coutinho; Benteke
Crystal Palace: Team News & Tactical Brief
The big (literally) difference between the two sides is in the forward position. While Liverpool have the big Belgian Christian Benteke to lead the line, Alan Pardew is likely to be without Connor Wickham, Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle due to injuries. Fullback Pape Souare should good to go, though, which will mean ex-Liverpool player Martin Kelly will have to make way.
Alan Pardewa s side have not scored a single goal through a proper striker so far this season. Their top scorer is Yohan Cabaye with 4 goals. Selling Glen Murray to Bournemouth in August for A?4 million is probably not seeming like the smartest move right about now. Hea s scored 2 goals in 4 starts for Bournemouth, and Crystal Palace would have been in a better position with him around.
While his options might be lacking up front, Pardew has a wealth of options in midfield. Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur are a steely midfield pairing, and Mile Jedinak and Joe Ledley are excellent back-ups. Further ahead, Pardew has a selection of very dynamic and pacey players in Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon, Yannick Bolasie, Bakary Sako and Frazier Campbell.
Against the ‘big’ teams, Alan Pardew tries his best to identify the oppositiona s greatest threats and does his best to ensure not to stifle them. After their goalless draw with Manchester United last week, Pardew openly admitted that his side had been instructed to aggressively press Anthony Martial, whom Pardew singled out as the Red Devilsa biggest threat:
“We didn’t give Martial an inch. Not an inch. It was a big target for us to stop him and we felt that if we could stop him we could stop their creative angle.a a Alan Pardew after the Man United game
Pardew has singled out Philippe Coutinho before the game:
“Coutinho is probably, at the moment, their best player, in terms of the level he’s at. And I don’t think anyone in the Premier League would disagree that he’s been in the top five players offensively this year, so he’s somebody we need to take care of.a a Alan Pardew on the upcoming Liverpool FC game
James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye will do their best to make sure Coutinho doesna t get much space between the lines. While Jurgen Klopp is well known for his gegenpressing tactics, dona t be surprised to see Palace players similarly pounce on the Brazilian whenever he receives the ball.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hennessey (GK), Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Cabaye, McArthur; Zaha, Puncheon, Sako; Bolasie
- Crystal Palacea s away form has been better than Liverpoola s home form in the Premier League. Liverpool have won only 2 games out of 5 at Anfield, while Palace have won 3 out of 5 away from Selhurst Park.
- Crystal Palace have scored 14 goals in their last 7 league games against Liverpool FC. Theya ve scored 3 goals each in each of the last 3 meetings.
- Philippe Coutinho tops the Premier League in the Shots per Game department, tied with Alexis Sanchez at 4.7. Unfortunately he has only 3 goals to show for his efforts, while Sanchez has 6.
- This game will feature the Leaguea s top tackler (Lucas Leiva, averaging 5.8 tackles/game), as well as the midfielder with the best rate of interceptions (Yohan Cabaye, with 3.7 intercepts a game).
Player to watch out for
Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace)
What a coup by Alan Pardewa s Crystal Palace, landing the French international from Paris Saint-Germain. A player who was just a season ago being linked to clubs like Manchester United. Cabaye has not disappointed since joining the London club, contributing massively both in attack and defence. Hea s the team highest goal scorer with 4 goals, their toughest tackler with 3.5 tackles a game, their best interceptor with 3.7 interceptions a game, and the second highest contributor of key passes (averaging 1.4 a game, behind Puncheona s 1.7). Players like Can and Lucas will have to make sure they track his runs from deeper positions, else hea ll happily add to his goal tally.
Liverpool FC 2-1 Crystal Palace
Liverpool FC will dominate the possession for most of the game, as Crystal Palace will try to keep things tight and attack on the counter. Unfortunately for Palace, the absence of an out-and-out striker could see them suffer. Even Dwight Gayle, who seems to love scoring against Liverpool (has four goals in three games against the Reds), isna t available. Liverpool FC, on the other hand, have Christian Benteke now fully fit and with a run of games under his belt, raring to go. Crystal Palace may well score against Liverpoola s defence, which always looks shaky when facing counter attacks and set pieces, but Liverpool have enough talent on the pitch and enough depth on the bench to see this game through.