After 37 matches, endless injuries and a season we won’t want to remember in a hurry, it all comes down to this for Liverpool…
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
Sunday, May 23, 2021 – 4pm (BST)
Premier League (38)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Finishing fourth isn’t something we dreamed about back in September, but the many obstacles the Reds have had to hurdle would now make it a fantastic achievement.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men were dead and buried not too long ago, but an unlikely run of six wins and two draws from eight games has put destiny in their own hands.
As 10,000 fans look forward to cheering Liverpool on this weekend, the Reds know that a win will all but certainly seal Champions League football next season.
Granted, Crystal Palace are a bogey team and Roy Hodgson upsetting his old club would be typical of this season, but everything points towards a home win.
This manager and these players deserve a final day to remember, having had the agony of not celebrating the title triumph in front of supporters.
If they can get the job done on Sunday, the post-match scenes threaten to be memorable, as the adoring faithful laud two great feats in their own special way over the past 12 months.
It promises to be emotional, it promises to be nerve-wracking, and if this season has taught us anything, it’s that drama of some kind is around the corner.
Failing to finish in the top-four doesn’t bear thinking about – don’t even think about it, Liverpool.
Klopp has no new injury concerns after the win over Burnley on Wednesday, which will come as a relief.
That means there is every chance the Liverpool manager goes with exactly the same starting lineup that won at Turf Moor.
If they can ensure Liverpool win, they will have played a major role in the most unlikely of top-four finishes – Phillips, in particular.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will be looking to create from full-back, while Fabinho and the in-form Thiago should be joined by Gini Wijnaldum in midfield, on what is expected to be the Dutchman’s last Reds appearance.
Crystal Palace are without exciting youngster Eberechi Eze, who suffered a serious Achilles injury, while ex-Red Christian Benteke may also miss out.
Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins and James McArthur are all long-term absentees.
Possible Palace XI: Guaita; Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, Van Aanholt; McCarthy, Kouyate, Schlupp; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha
Last 5 at Home to Crystal Palace (All Competitions)
Won 4-0 – June 2020 (Alexander-Arnold, Salah, Fabinho, Mane)
Won 4-3 – January 2019 (Salah x2, Firmino, Mane; Townsend, Tomkins, Meyer)
Won 1-0 – August 2017 (Mane)
Lost 2-1 – April 2017 (Coutinho; Benteke x2)
Lost 2-1 – November 2015 (Coutinho; Bolasie, Dann)
Did You Know?
Despite this, Liverpool actually have the fourth-best defensive record in the league in 2020/21, conceding 42 goals in their 37 matches.
That’s an outstanding effort from Liverpool, who have dug deep so much as a defensive unit.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Crystal Palace – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking in his final pre-match press conference of the season, Klopp couldn’t hide his excitement at the prospect of supporters being back inside Anfield:
“It’s an interesting one because we have supporters back. And I would like to use the opportunity to welcome them back.
“You cannot imagine how much I’m looking forward to seeing you all again. At least, 10,000 of you!
“But it’s really important with all the excitement that we don’t lose patience after a minute or something if it’s not going the right direction.
“We need the best support possible, very positive, very encouraging like we left each other, I don’t know when – feels like years ago!
“Let’s go with all we have, plus 10,000 positive crazy people in the stadium, can’t wait.”
TV & Liveblog Info
A nervous Henry Jackson will be in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog from 3.15pm – come and keep him company and partake in some group therapy!