Liverpool’s 10th Premier League game of the season sees them travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday, with the Reds looking to keep pace at the top of the table. Want to know everything relevant about the opposition? Look no further…
Form (all competitions): L-W-D-L-L
League position: 11th
Last league win: 3-2 away vs. Sunderland, Sept 24
At home: One win from four
Alan Pardew’s Eagles are a set-in-stone 4-2-3-1 with fast wide men, a direct approach to finding them and plenty of bodies committed to the counter-attack.
- Palace average the most crosses per game of any Premier League team, 29, and the third-highest long balls, 75
- Only West Brom have scored more times from set pieces this term than Palace’s four
- Palace are top of the table for aerial duels won this season, 20.8 per game
- Jason Puncheon has created more chances via corners than any other player in the league
- Puncheon totals one key pass more than Roberto Firmino (25)
Given Liverpool’s propensity to concede from set pieces and against aerially proficient players, the obvious reference points are Christian Benteke, Scott Dann and James Tomkins. All have scored this season and former Red Benteke averages more than nine aerial balls won per game.
LFC can exploit…
- Playing in quickly behind the full-backs, Palace are particularly vulnerable to the defence being pulled apart easily
- Early in the season they conceded several from set piece deliveries
- Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has also been susceptible to shots from outside the box
- Palace go long more often than not in any case, so while pressing high should be continued, picking up the second balls in midfield will be key rather than letting Palace’s midfielders drive on and link with Benteke
He might not be the best player in Palace’s squad, but Liverpool fans need no reminding of how effective Christian Benteke can be and he fits the profile of forwards which have troubled the back line too often down the years.
Stopping the delivery toward Benteke—set pieces and direct passes from deep rather than the constant crosses is the main focus here—is the best approach to nullifying his threat, but it’s also worth remembering he has bullied and out-paced defenders in Liverpool shirts down the years as well as looking dominant in the air.
For the Reds, it’s former Palace man Nathaniel Clyne who needs to be most effective at both ends of the pitch, stopping Zaha drifting infield in support of Benteke but also getting deep into the final third to make those unstoppable triangle combinations in behind the opposition defence.
Don’t be surprised to see one full-back or the other record a huge number of chances against Palace.
Dann should return from injury, Puncheon is a doubt, Zeki Fryers pushing Martin Kelly for left-back.
Probable XI: Steve Mandanda; Joel Ward, James Tomkins, Scott Dann, Martin Kelly; James McArthur, Joe Ledley; Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye, Andros Townsend; Christian Benteke.
Head to Head
Total games: 47
Total LFC wins: 23
At Selhurst Park: Nine wins from 24
Last meeting: Liverpool 2-1 Palace, March 2016