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Buoyant Reds aim to go six points clear – Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool Preview

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Liverpool head to Crystal Palace on Saturday top of the Premier League and in buoyant spirits, with victory at Selhurst Park to send the Reds six points clear, at least temporarily.

Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool

Sunday, December 19, 2020 – 12.30pm (GMT)
Selhurst Park
Premier League (14)
Referee: Jon Moss


What a contrast the Fulham and Tottenham games were.

If Liverpool were as flat as a pancake at Craven Cottage last weekend, they were electric at times against Spurs, showing why they remain the team to beat this season.

The Reds’ midweek triumph was as enjoyable as it was dramatic, with Roberto Firmino‘s last-gasp winner the moment of the campaign so far.

The win saw Jurgen Klopp‘s men leapfrog the north Londoners and go top of the table, as other rivals no doubt watched on in dismay.

Despite all the injury problems and VAR robberies, Liverpool still lead the way again and they can put even more pressure on the chasing pack this weekend.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Peter Powell/PA Wire/PA Images)

The Reds head to Palace for what is always a tricky game, but the chance to open up a six-point lead should only spur them on further, with Tottenham to play fellow top-four side Leicester on Sunday.

Roy Hodgson continues to do a solid job with the Eagles, albeit an unspectacular one, and he will be keen to upset his former club.

After this, Liverpool have an eight-day break before hosting West Brom on December 27, so they can afford to give every ounce of energy and leave nothing behind on the pitch.

If Wednesday’s win over Spurs felt huge, another three points here would only add to the feeling that title number 20 may be on the horizon.

 

Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's Joel Matip during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0 to win the group and progress to the Round of 16. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool haven’t picked up any new injuries, which is both a major and rare boost in the fitness department this season.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez remain long-term absentees who likely won’t play again this season, but the Reds are still battling on admirably without them.

Joel Matip is expected to return after missing the Spurs game with a back spasm, but if he isn’t fit, Rhys Williams would likely continue alongside Fabinho.

Thiago is still out injured, with Klopp and co. hopeful of a return to team training next week alongside James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri.

BERGAMO, ITALY - Tuesday, November 3, 2020: Liverpool's hat-trick hero Diogo Jota walks off injured during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Atalanta BC and Liverpool FC at the Stadio di Bergamo. (Pic by Simone Arveda/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, Diogo Jota is out for the foreseeable future but Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are available once more.

With Liverpool enjoying an aforementioned eight-day break after the match, there is no real reason for Klopp to rotate despite the quick turnaround after Spurs.

That means the likes of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum should all start, as will Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino.

Palace are without suspended former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke, following the striker’s red card at West Ham in midweek, but Hodgson has no injury concerns.

Possible Palace XI: Guaita; Clyne, Kouyate, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Schlupp, Milivojevic, McArthur, Eze; Zaha, Ayew

 

Last 5 away to Crystal Palace (All Competitions)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 23, 2019: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Won 2-1 – November 2019 (Zaha; Mane, Firmino)
Won 2-0 – August 2018 (Milner pen, Mane)
Won 2-1 – March 2018 (Milivojevic pen; Mane, Salah)
Won 4-2 – October 2016 (McArthur x2; Can, Lovren, Matip, Firmino)
Won 2-1 – March 2016 (Ledley; Firmino, Benteke pen)

 

Selhurst Park

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 29, 2016: A general view of Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park ground before the FA Premier League match against Liverpool. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Capacity: 25,486

* Back to behind-closed-doors after London placed in Tier 2

 

Did You Know?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 23, 2019: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Sadio Mané during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The general narrative is that trips to Selhurst Park have been miserable for Liverpool in recent times, with the galling 3-3 draw back in 2013/2014 still fresh in the memory.

The truth is that the Reds have actually enjoyed great success there since a 3-1 defeat in the same year, however, winning in their last six games there.

The first of those was an FA Cup fifth round triumph in 2014/15, before a 96th-minute Benteke penalty earned Liverpool a 2-1 win against his future employers in 2016.

Victories have also been secured in south London in each of the last four seasons, with the 2-1 win last November seeing Firmino score late in the day.

 

Form

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 16, 2020: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the winning second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Crystal Palace – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 1-1 vs. West Ham
Drew 1-1 vs. Tottenham
Won 5-1 vs. West Brom
Lost 2-0 vs. Newcastle
Lost 1-0 vs. Burnley

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 2-1 vs. Tottenham
Drew 1-1 vs. Fulham
Drew 1-1 vs. Midtjylland
Won 4-0 vs. Wolves
Won 1-0 vs. Ajax

 

Klopp’s View

Speaking at Kirkby on Friday, Klopp spoke highly of the talent Palace possess and the performance levels Hodgson has established to ensure it will be a “tough one”:

“So results are one thing and it’s very important for the specific clubs, but for me, it’s much more important what kind of performance level they are capable of and that is impressive, I have to say.

“They have made a good signing with Eze, really good, talented boy, gives them the freedom to put Zaha a little bit higher up the pitch because maybe they have a similar profile, the two boys.

“And [they have] a very experienced last line. So, I’m impressed about the performance level they are able to play… they look good, they look sharp. It will be a tough one.”

 

TV & Liveblog Info

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 12, 2017: A female television camera operator during a preseason friendly match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool will be shown live on BT Sport 1, with coverage beginning at 11.30am (GMT). Kickoff is at 12.30pm.

Chris Williams is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog, keeping you up to date with all the action from 11.45am.

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