After a disappointing draw at Watford on opening day, Liverpool come home to Anfield to entertain Crystal Palace.
Liverpool were seconds away from a morale boosting come-back victory against Watford until the defence, not for the first time, dropped its guard in the crucial minutes of stoppage time allowing stand-in Hornets’ captain Miguel Britos to earn a vital point for his new boss Marco Silva.
The fact that the Reds’ faithful hardly made heavy weather of a supposedly off-side goal, that shouldn’t have stood, showed the fans’ resignation towards the fact that a win would have probably been a flattering result given the diabolical state of their defence on the day.
Jurgen Klopp’s men did, however, jump back with a crucial away victory in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim which should bring them in good spirits back to Anfield in preparation for the visit of Frank de Boer’s Crystal Palace this weekend.
The Londoners need no introduction, certainly not in the Red half of Merseyside, given all the bitter memories from recent outings. That said, Crystal Palace will not bank on that record to come away with three points on Saturday given how results panned out last week. While the Reds at least mustered a decent fightback enroute to a draw at Vicarage Road, Palace crumbled at the hands of newly promoted Huddersfield Town.
The David Wagner-led Terriers made Palace look like the promoted outfit as they dispatched them 3-0 at Selhurst Park. de Boer will look to fix that result by potentially causing a massive upset against a side he was very close to joining back in 2012 before Brendan Rodgers was roped in.
Team News and Tactics
“Dynamite up front and a train-wreck at the back”, was round about the way a number of news outlets described Liverpool’s performance last week. They may have followed it up with a relatively more resolute performance against Hoffenheim but it still needs addressing.
Simon Mignolet has been in good nick for the Reds and so has 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold alongside the stable presence of Joel Matip. Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno, however, continue to remain prone to errors and it won’t be surprising if Frank de Boer hatches plans to expose the Reds vulnerability in that area of the park.
Daniel Sturridge returned to training and could be a part of Klopp’s plans on Saturday. With one eye on the 2nd leg of the Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim, it won’t be surprising if Klopp opts to rest Firmino or take him off early in favour of game-time for the returning Englishman.
Philippe Coutinho, amidst the transfer saga involving Barcelona, continues to remain sidelined due to back injury and isn’t expected to return for Liverpool’s Champions League commitments either. While two of the Reds’ summer recruits, Dominic Solanke and Mohamed Salah have made their competitive debuts for the club, Andrew Robertson is yet to do so.
Addressing a question regarding the Scotsman’s absence, Klopp stated that he likes the player and he was not included in the squad for the first two games because he felt Robertson needed to adapt to his style of play before jumping in.
While there are little changes expected in terms of how the team sets up, it won’t be surprising if Klopp drops a key name or two on the bench in the hope of providing them sufficient rest ahead of the all-important decider on Tuesday.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Starting your Premier League campaign with a 3-0 defeat to a newly promoted side is far from the ideal way to mark the beginning of your managerial career but Frank de Boer will be looking for an improved showing from his side at Anfield on Saturday.
The Dutchman however will take solace from the fact that Palace have come away with victories at Anfield on their last three times of asking in the Premier League, two of which have come during Klopp’s tenure at the club.
The two sides did meet during pre-season at Hong Kong as part of the Premier League Asia trophy where Liverpool overcame Crystal Palace by two goals to nil. But that isn’t a result that will be riding too much on de Boer’s head at the moment.
Palace are expected to deploy their 3-4-2-1 formation like the way they lined up against Huddersfield Town. The major absentee from de Boer’s line-up would be Wilfried Zaha, who is expected to be out for 4 weeks owing to a knee injury. James McArthur, Yohan Cabaye Bakary Sako and Papa Souare are the other absentees as they recover their respective knocks.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek impressed for Palace last week and is expected to keep his place behind Benteke along with Andros Townsend. Fellow Manchester United loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah is also expected to keep his place in the Palace back-line along with Scott Dann and summer recruit Jairo Riedewald.
Probable Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Hennessey; Fosu-Mensah, Dann, Riedewald; Ward, Milivojevic, Puncheon, van Aanholt; Loftus-Cheek, Benteke, Townsend.
- Crystal Palace are looking to become the first side to win four consecutive top-flight games versus Liverpool at Anfield since Arsenal in December 1935.
- Liverpool haven’t kept a clean sheet against Crystal Palace in 13 competitive matches, since a 0-0 draw in an FA Cup fourth-round tie in January 2003 (0-0).
- Benteke has scored five goals in his previous three Premier League games at Anfield as an opposition player, more than he has at any other away ground in the competition.
- Mohamed Salah became the 12th different player to score on his Premier League debut for Liverpool – only Nigel Clough, Milan Baros and Sturridge have scored on their first two Premier League appearances for the club.
- Sadio Mane, who has netted five goals in his last seven Premier League games, has had a hand in four goals in five matches against Crystal Palace in the top flight (three goals, one assist).
1. Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.35
2. Both Teams to Score – NO @ 1.90
1. Full Time Scoreline 0-0 @ 17.00
Players To Watch
Over the course of the last couple of games, the defence and midfield have taken a bit of a beating for their lack of productivity in their respective areas but Roberto Firmino and the Liverpool attack can exempt themselves from any of those comments. The Brazilian has been at the forefront of some tireless work and was instrumental in scripting the Reds’ comeback last week and there is no distancing him from the thick of the action this weekend as well.
Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace
The Reds are expected to break their Anfield duck against Crystal Palace on Saturday and secure their first three points for the season. Anything less and it’ll be panic stations all around Anfield going into the big midweek showdown against Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim.