Ben Morgan gives us a roundup of what to expect in Saturday’s game at Anfield where Liverpool host Crystal Palace.
Saturday afternoon sees Liverpool in action once more in the Premier League, where they host Crystal Palace at Anfield. Many fans still have images of when Dwight Gayle tormented our back four on the 5th of May 2014, scoring two quick fire goals to all but hand over the title to Manchester City, and break the dreams and hearts of the players, manager, and fans alike. This is a very different Palace side to the one we faced back then, spearheaded by a new manager. Frank De Boer had a very successful time at Ajax, as he won multiple Eredivisie titles, but struggled when he got a chance to prove himself in one of Europes top leagues, with sleeping Italian giants Inter Milan. Saturday will prove to be a test for both sides. The reds were frustrated at Watford last Saturday, where they drew 3-3, and were once again exposed by set pieces. Palace, were stunned by newly promoted Huddersfield Town, who ran at 3-0 winners at Selhurst park. Both teams will be looking to get their first wins of the season, in their second game.
Team News – Liverpool:
Jurgen Klopp still has 4 injury concerns heading into Saturday’s clash. Adam Lallana remains a long term absentee, with no sign of Nathanial Clyne returning to the side yet – as he continues to nurse a muscle injury. Daniel Sturridge could be in contention to be included amongst the squad, having been recovering from a slight issue which kept him out of the Premier League opener at Watford, and Tuesdays 2-1 at Hoffenheim in the 1st leg of the Champions League Qualifier, the Liverpool Manager has confirmed. Danny Ings is set to continue his recovery from a long term knee issue with the U23s, while want a way star man Phillipe Coutinho, who continues to be linked away with a move to Barcelona, still struggles with a back issue. Klopp said in his press conference that nothing has changed with the Brazilian stance at Anfield, amid the comments made from Barcelona General Manager Pep Segura today; claiming a deal for Coutinho is ‘close’.
This means that we could see the same starting XI for the third game in a row for Liverpool, with Simon Mignolet being named as Klopp’s number one between the sticks before the season, and an impressive performance in goal on Tuesday, which included a penalty stop, to deny former Leicester City man Andrej Kramaric, and Hoffenheim an early lead. Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to continue at right back in the absence of Nathaniel Clyne, although there is no sign Clyne is guaranteed to start on his return, following the rise of Alexander Arnold, who became Liverpool’s youngest ever goal scorer in the Champions League, with his sensational free kick. Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip are set to continue at the heart of the reds back four. Andrew Robertson will be hoping to make his first competitive start for the club at left back. Klopp said this about the Scotsman in his press conference today ‘”He’s in a good moment, developing well. Everything fine from my side. He came in late and has to adapt to our style. The rule is if you train really well, work hard, everything will be perfect”. Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum could all continue as the midfield three, although James Milner could come into the 11. The electric front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are set to continue, having each scored a goal apiece in last week’s Premier League encounter.
Team News – Crystal Palace:
Frank De Boer will be without star man Wilfried Zaha for Palace’s trip to Anfield, with the tricky winger picking up a knee injury which could rule him out for the next month. Former Reds striker Christian Benteke is expected to lead the Palace attack once more. The big Belgian endured a tough year at Anfield, where he only scored 9 premier league goals in 29 appearances for the club. His spell has been more fruitful at Crystal Palace though, with the forward showing the form which tempted the reds to sign him for £32 million back in 2015, having scored 15 league goals last season for the Eagles. He has been a constant threat in an opposition team at Anfield as well, scoring 5 goals in his last 3 Premier League games.
What to Expect:
Expect a fast paced and frantic football match. De Boer loves his side playing from the back and retaining possession, playing little triangles through midfield and will look to do this on Saturday. Christian Benteke is the danger man, with Zaha being absent, so expect crosses to go into the Liverpool area, to test a Liverpool defence that has often come unstuck when the ball is lofted into their area. Liverpool, are at their most dangerous when they play on the counter attack. With the pace of the front three, and the determination of Emre Can and Wijnaldum to break forward with the ball as well, could see Liverpool penetrate the Palace back line, which shipped 3 last week.
Crystal Palace, however, have a good recent run of form at Anfield, its 3 wins from their last 3 games, including a 2-1 win at Anfield last season, which Benteke scored in, so the Reds will know that they face a side who has had their number on many occasions before. Liverpool will be looking for a repeat performance; to the one they showed when they beat Palace, in their Pre-Season encounter, in the Premier League Asia Trophy, where the Reds ran out comfortable winners, where the game finished 2-0. Dominic Solanke opened his Liverpool account in style, with a powerful low drive in the 61st minute, while Divock Origi also got on the scoresheet in the 79th minute.
This will be a tough game for Liverpool, they will need to remain focused and calm throughout the game, and try deal with any defensive issues as a unit. This is one thing which has been brought up by fans. Jurgen Klopp however said that he is looking forward to returning to Anfield, but knows it will be a tough game “It’s a tough game. We weren’t really disappointed about our first game but we know there are lots to improve on. We played them a few weeks ago – but Phil (Coutinho) and (Wilfired) Zaha were on the pitch. I am really looking forward to playing at Anfield, It’s our place. It’s been a long time since we played there.” Klopp also spoke about potential dealings in the market; with fans still wanting the club to dip back into the market to reinforce the squad “A few things on both sides (can happen). Everything leads to the 31st of August. It’ll be a busy day, I don’t know if we will be involved.” Fans will be hoping the club will be involved in the last couple of weeks.
The match at Anfield kicks off at 3pm, and it’s all set up to be a very interesting encounter.