Rare shot at consistency on the cards for Klopp – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Crystal Palace

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It could be a case of just a tweak for Jurgen Klopp at Selhurst Park as Liverpool look to consolidate their position at the top of the table over the Christmas period.

The Reds picked up an invaluable victory in midweek over Tottenham thanks to Roberto Firmino at the death, a result which moved them three points clear at the Premier League summit.

The key now is to ensure it was not in vain and Roy Hodgson’s side stands in the way of a sixth Christmas Day as league leaders in the Premier League era.

With an eight-day break to follow, Klopp can afford to make very few changes at Selhurst Park as he looks to hand an early Christmas present to the Liverpool faithful.

Here’s how the Reds are likely to set up against Palace in the early kickoff.

 

Team News

Compared to weeks gone by, this is one which Klopp would welcome more often as the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter for a handful of Reds.

Joel Matip will be the only one to return in time for the trip to the capital, however, after missing the win in midweek due to a back spasm picked up at Fulham.

The centre-back trained with the team on Thursday and if all goes to plan, he is likely to settle back into the team with immediate effect.

Rhys Williams stepped in with a brilliant covering performance but having a senior option back in the fold will be welcomed.

It comes as Klopp spoke of his hopes of seeing Thiago, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri return to training next week after making positive progress from their respective injuries.

There will be no rushing their returns, with Milner the most likely to make an appearance first but it is certainly a welcome boost after seemingly never catching a break on the injury front.

They are unlikely to start, but the occasion could see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handed his first minutes this season from the bench as Naby Keita also eyes another opportunity.

 

Liverpool XI vs. Palace

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson Becker (L) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It could be as simple as one in and one out in a reversal from midweek for Klopp in what is one of the most consistent weeks of team selection this season.

Matip would settle back into the side alongside Fabinho in the heart of the defence, displacing the ever-impressive Rhys Williams in the process.

It would see Alisson continue in goal in search of his fifth clean sheet in all competitions this season, with Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold continuing at full-back – where the latter could play his 150th game for the Reds in all competitions.

Let’s just remind ourselves that he is only 22 years of age.

The midfield unit would remain in-tact once more, with Jordan Henderson continuing in the No. 6 role alongside Gini Wijnaldum and Curtis Jones.

The teenager has been a standout for Liverpool in recent weeks and is firmly staking his claim as a consistently reliable option as players start to return from injury.

In attack, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will continue to lead the way and the latter will be eyeing a return to the scoresheet after an eight league game barren run.

And the opponent could be just the trick as Mane has scored in six successive league games against Palace home and away, with a career total of nine goals in 12 games against the Eagles.

Alisson; Trent, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane


Alternative Options

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Naby Keita is replaced by substitute Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While the abovementioned XI is the likely set up for Klopp, there is scope for other personnel to be explored and, as we know, with this manager nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

It could mean that any one of these avenues are explored at Selhurst Park from the off:

  • Matip could return alongside R. Williams, pushing Fabinho into midfield
  • Ox is handed his first start of season, likely in place of Jones
  • A return for Keita after two-game absence
  • Takumi Minamino continues midfield role in what be only his second league start in 2020/21

All signs do point to just a single change, however, and with an extended Christmas break, it certainly provides the ideal time to look for consistency in the team and to back up the win over Spurs.

Palace will present the Reds with a number of tests as is always the case, but the rewards are too great not to leave everything on the pitch so a clear place at the top of the table awaits on Christmas Day.

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