Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 4/7
Having just booked a place in the Carabao Cup final, Liverpool are set to travel to London again on Sunday, this time to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League, in what will be the 22nd match of the campaign for both teams. The last time they met, at Anfield back in September, Liverpool won by 3-0, courtesy of three players who won’t be able to help them this time around.
Crystal Palace are looking comfortable in 11th place in the Premier League table with 24 points at the moment, the same tally as Southampton in 12th, and one more than Aston Villa and Brentford in 13th and 14th, respectively. The most important thing for them is, of course, that they’re 11 points away from Burnley, who top the relegation zone.
However, Patrick Vieira’s team have shown some fine football this term, and many believe they deserve to be in the top half of the table. It remains to be seen where the end of the season finds them.
As for the recent form, the Eagles have won two, drew two and lost two of their last six matches in all competitions. They first drew 2-2 at home against Southampton, then lost 3-0 away to Tottenham Hotspur, won 3-0 at home against Norwich City, lost 2-3 at home against West Ham, beat Millwall away by 1-2 in the FA Cup, and drew 1-1 away to Brighton and Hove Albion last week.
Palace came close to taking all three points from the Amex in that match after Conor Gallagher scored in the 67th minute. Goalkeeper Jack Butland saved a penalty from Pascal Gross and Neal Maupay had a goal ruled out for a foul on Butland, but in the end, Palace defender Joachim Anderson did what no Brighton player could and put the ball into his own net in the 87th minute.
Winger Wilfried Zaha is away representing the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, as is Cheikhou Kouyate who plays for Senegal. Forward Jordan Ayew could, however, be back in the team after Ghana got eliminated from the tournament earlier this week.
Defender James Tomkins and midfielder James McArthur will miss out through injury.
Christian Benteke will be hoping to lead the line against his former club, likely supported by Michael Olise.
The Reds go to face Palace buoyed by their triumph over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semifinal on Thursday. The final awaits at Wembley on February 27th, with Chelsea as the last and probably most difficult obstacle between Jurgen Klopp’s team and their ninth trophy in the competition. But with over a month to go before that, and almost four weeks before they face Inter Milan in the Champions League round of 16, their attention turns to the Premier League.
This is where Chelsea have already dealt Liverpool a blow, dealing themselves one in the process too, by losing to Manchester City last week. The defending champions are now 11 points clear at the top of the table, and though Liverpool have a game in hand and are yet to come to the Etihad, it will now take a small miracle for anyone to overcome Pep Guardiola’s men. Nonetheless, it’s up to Liverpool and their players and staff to keep faith and make sure they do all they can on their end, at least while there is still some mathematical possibility of winning the league title for the 20th time.
Liverpool’s last-six run consists of three wins, two draws and one defeat. They lost 1-0 away to Leicester City, drew 2-2 away to Chelsea, eased past Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup by 4-1, drew 0-0 in the first leg of the Carabao Cup at home against Arsenal, beat Brentford at home by 3-0, and eventually triumphed 0-2 at the Emirates.
Diogo Jota was the man who scored both goals against the Gunners, running through the Arsenal defence and firing low past Aaron Ramsdale in the 19th minute, before taking advantage of a great pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold to chip over the Arsenal ‘keeper in the 77th.
As has been said above, the three players who scored against Palace in September aren’t in contention for this match; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are all at the AFCON, representing Egypt, Senegal and Guinea respectively. Midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott should be back from their injuries after the upcoming international break.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rolled his ankle right after scoring against Brentford and was forced to sit out the match against his former club on Thursday, but there is a big chance he’ll be ready by Sunday. He’s not very likely to start, though.
Roberto Firmino and Jota will surely be named to start upfront, likely with Takumi Minamino by their side after the Japan international started the Arsenal match on the bench in favour of 17-year-old Kaide Gordon.
Liverpool are obviously the favourites to win this match. They do have a couple of important players missing, but then again, so do Palace, and Liverpool’s quality is undoubtedly at a much higher level.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 4/7
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