Liverpool will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League table when they lock horns with Crystal Palace this weekend.
Matchday 14 of the 2020/21 Premier League kicks off on Saturday afternoon with reigning champions Liverpool in action away from home, at Selhurst Park, as they go head-to-head against Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace go into the game on the back of a three-game unbeaten run, having beaten West Bromwich Albion 5-1, which was followed by consecutive 1-1 draws in London derbies against Tottenham and West Ham United. Currently seated 12th in the Premier League table, Roy Hodgson & co. will be looking to extend that run when the champions come visiting.
Liverpool, meanwhile, moved to the pole position in the standings following their last-ditch 2-1 win over Tottenham on Wednesday, after having failed to win their two matches before that in all competitions. With the likes of Southampton, Chelsea and Spurs all facing tricky fixtures this weekend, the Reds have the perfect chance to extend their lead at the top on Saturday.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Liverpool eke out a 2-1 victory courtesy a late Roberto Firmino winner after Wilfried Zaha had cancelled out Sadio Mane’s strike. Ahead of their latest meeting this weekend at Selhurst Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
The Eagles are likely to be without as many as six players for the weekend clash, with five of them – Mamadou Sakho, Martin Kelly, Connor Wickham, Wayne Hennessey and Nathan Ferguson out with injuries. Former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke, who had worked up some form of late, is suspended after being sent off in the last game.
There are unlikely to be any drastic changes made to the team that started in midweek against West Ham. Vicente Guaita has impressed in goal and ought to continue against Liverpool, shielded by two banks of four in front of him.
Ex-Liverpool ace Nathaniel Clyne should start at right-back, replacing Joel Ward while Patrick van Aanholt is an undisputed starter on the left. Gary Cahill should once again have Cheikhou Kouyate as his partner at the heart of the Crystal Palace defence.
The back four will be shielded by the central midfield duo of Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur, while Jeffrey Schlupp and Eberechi Eze will take up the wide roles and look to provide the forward thrust on the counters.
Wilfried Zaha is certain to start at the top and his link-up with Eze on the left-side channel will pose a major issue for Liverpool. With Benteke suspended, Jordan Ayew should get the nod alongside Zaha, although Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi is also an option.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Guaita; Clyne, Kouyate, Cahill, van Aanholt; Schlupp, Milivojevic, McArthur, Eze; Ayew, Zaha
Much like their opponents, Liverpool too have several players sidelined due to injury problems. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees while fellow defender Kostas Tsimikas is also unavailable. Thiago Alcantara, James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota are all absent as well, but Joel Matip could be available after missing the midweek game with a back issue.
Alisson Becker is the undisputed choice in goal while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are certainties to feature as the full-backs. Rhys Williams had a solid game last time out against Tottenham but could be set to make way for the returning Matip on Saturday with the Cameroonian partnering Fabinho at the centre of the defence.
Captain Jordan Henderson ought to continue at the base of the three-man midfield for the Premier League champions while Georginio Wijnaldum should also be retained in the side. Curtis Jones was brilliant in the midweek game but having been involved in a lot of matches of late, could be given a breather on Saturday with Naby Keita starting.
With Jota unavailable and the likes of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino not entirely impressing, Klopp is unlikely to make any changes in the final third, with the terrific trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane expected to feature from kick-off at Selhurst Park.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.50
- Wilfried Zaha to score anytime @ 3.60
- Liverpool have won each of their last five Premier League away games against Crystal Palace. Only against Norwich City (7) and Aston Villa (6) have they won more consecutively on the road in the competition.
- Since their return to the Premier League in 2013, Crystal Palace haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their 14 league games against Liverpool (W4 D1 L9), with the Eagles losing each of their last six in a row against the Reds.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League away games in London (W8D4), going down 1-2 at Arsenal last season. They have lost just four of their 27 league games in the capital under Jurgen Klopp, with each defeat coming against different sides (West Ham, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal).
- Crystal Palace have kept just one clean sheet in their last 21 Premier League matches, a 1-0 win over Southampton in the 2020/21 season opener. Their current 12-game run without a shutout is their worse since a 14-match streak between May and November 2017.
- Liverpool are winless in their last five away league games (D4 L1), drawing each of their last four in a row. They last went six league matches without a win on the road in January 2011.
Player to Watch
Having scored four goals in his first four league games of the season, the Senegalese speedster has gone eight in a row without finding the back of the net in the top-flight. While he hasn’t been playing badly, the goalscoring touch seems to have deserted him of late, with his last goal across all competitions coming in early November against Atalanta in the Champions League.
Going up against Crystal Palace though, Mane will be licking his lips as he hs scored in each of his last six Premier League games against the Eagles. In 11 league games against the London outfit, the 28-year-old has nine goals and two assists and will back himself to end his dry patch in front of goal at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool
Crystal Palace have time and again shown that they can go toe-to-toe with the big guns of the Premier League, having already beaten Manchester United away and held Tottenham to a draw at home this season. And, they will certainly pose a stern challenge to Jurgen Klopp’s brigade this weekend.
Liverpool have won just one of their six away games in the league this term, failing to win their last five on the road. However, they showed great mental character to overcome a difficult Tottenham side earlier in the week, which will have filled them with great confidence.
Liverpool have come out on top in each of their last five visits to Selhurst Park and with Palace struggling to keep clean sheets, the Reds should be able to bag another win on Saturday. The Hard Tackle predicts another narrow 2-1 triumph for the title-holders.