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vs

CRYSTAL PALACE

Saturday, May 16 2015; 17:30 GMT

Anfield, Liverpool

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Saturday’s clash between Liverpool and Crystal Palace will be a big occasion at Anfield despite the fact that neither Liverpool nor Crystal Palace have anything to play for. Crystal Palace were safe from relegation weeks ago, and have no chance of qualifying for Europe, and hence are stuck in midtable without a purpose for their last games of the season. Liverpool, on the other hand, are all but guaranteed to miss out on Champions League football once again this season and are in no danger of finishing below 5th place as both Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton are doing their level best to not qualify for the Europa League. Hence, this game will be remembered for being Steven Gerrard’s last appearance at Anfield.

 

Team News and Tactical Brief

Liverpool

Steven Gerrard will come and go just like any other player at Liverpool, but the mass hysteria surrounding this game is to some extent understandable. Some tickets are said to be available at a going rate of over A?1,000; with many others making a trip to Liverpool from outside England for the previous games at home.

As Liverpool’s season winds down into nothingness, it must also not be forgotten that both Glen Johnson and Kolo Toure will also make their final appearances at Anfield. Both players have confirmed their departure from the club having fulfilled their contracts, meaning that Gerrard is not the only experienced player who will be making his departure. Toure will make a substitute at appearance, at best, but Glen Johnson will start at left back thanks to him having manager Brendan Rodgers’ trust even at this stage.

The starting eleven should pick itself, for the most part. Considering speculation, Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace could also be a last chance for Rickie Lambert to score a goal at the Kop End for Liverpool. Jordan Ibe has been given a few chances as a substitute of late, and it will be a toss up between him and Adam Lallana for a place in the right wing. The only surprises Rodgers might spring up at this stage of the season may be introducing Jerome Sinclair once again, or handing a substitute appearance to midfielder Cameron Brannagan, who has been on Liverpool’s bench 6 times this season.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mignolet (GK), Can, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson, Henderson, Gerrard (Capt), Ibe, Coutinho, Sterling, Lambert

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace - Probable Lineup - May 16 2015

Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew’s side risk being relegated to the role of a sideshow at Anfield, but will be in no mood to oblige. The Eagles are in the midst of a 4-game losing streak, and have scored just once in that time. They sit comfortably between relegation and European football, and hence have nothing to play for.

Besides the departures (both confirmed and potential) of a number of Liverpool players coming up, former Liverpool defender Martin Kelly will make his return to Anfield for the first time since leaving the club. Kelly was part of the side that handsomely defeated Liverpool 3-1 in November, but may not get the nod at right back ahead of Adrian Mariappa. Former Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha made a substitute appearance at his former club last weekend, and could be handed a starting role this time around, to take advantage of Liverpool’s weaknesses at fullback positions. Yannick Bolasie will likely be stationed on the left, and will be specifically instructed by Alan Pardew to run at Emre Can on Liverpool’s right.

Alan Pardew has also been experimenting with formations and positioning at Palace of late, most notably leaving out Australian midfielder Mile Jedinak. Jedinak’s free kick against Liverpool earlier this season may have won the goal of the season award at Crystal Palace, but Pardew has experimented with the combination of Joe Ledley and James McArthur in midfield, apparently to see what others can do.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Speroni (GK), Mariappa, Dann, Delaney (Capt), Ward, McArthur, Ledley, Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie, Chamakh

Key Facts

  1. Liverpool have won 6 of their last 7 home games in the Premier League. The 7th was a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, a defeat that may prove to be the difference between Champions League and Europa League.
  2. Crystal Palace are on a 4 game losing streak in the Premier League.
  3. Crystal Palace’s defenders have scored 7 goals this season. They are 1 short of the total haul of Liverpool’s strikers, who have scored 8 in the Premier League this season. Daniel Sturridge, despite his injury troubles is still Liverpool’s top scorer.

Player to watch out for

Rickie Lambert (Liverpool)

Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Crystal Palace

Blast from the Past