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10 key things to know ahead of Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool

Liverpool head to Crystal Palace looking for a 10th straight victory against the Eagles, with Patrick Vieira impressing after taking over from Roy Hodgson.

The Reds beat Arsenal 2-0 to make it into the League Cup final on Thursday evening, with a big day at Wembley to look forward to next month.

Jurgen Klopp‘s latest assignment is Sunday’s trip to Palace, for what has the potential to be a tricky afternoon in south London.

Here are 10 key things to know ahead of the game.

 

1. Impressive post-Hodgson spell

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Crystal Palace's Jaïro Riedewald during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The reign of Hodgson concluded at the end of last season, heralding a new era at Selhurst Park.

In his place came Vieira – a far younger manager with more modern ideas – as he tried to adopt a fresh approach at Palace.

The Arsenal legend has caught the eye in his first half-season, with Palace no longer a team you would actively avoid watching.

They are 11th in the table going into Sunday’s game, and while that may not be hugely different to under Hodgson, their style of play has been far more refreshing.

 

2. Players to watch

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Crystal Palace's Conor Gallagher during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the past, Palace have felt almost embarrassingly dependant on Wilfried Zaha to create magic, but those days are long gone.

In fact, the Ivorian – who is on Africa Cup of Nations duty – may not even be a huge miss this weekend, such has been the form of others.

On-loan Chelsea youngster Conor Gallagher has been the standout performer for the south Londoners, scoring seven times and registering three assists in the Premier League.

Exciting winger Michael Olise has also shone in recent weeks – incidentally, he was one of only three only players to get more assists than Harvey Elliott in the Championship last season, during an excellent spell with Reading.

Other players to look out for are solid centre-backing pair Joachim Anderson and Marc Guehi, as well as the dangerous Eberechi Eze.

 

3. Possible Palace lineup

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Crystal Palace's manager Patrick Vieira during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As mentioned, Zaha is away at AFCON, having earned a recall to the Ivory Coast squad last month.

Cheikhou Kouyate is in the same boat, representing Senegal, but Jordan Ayew is available having been knocked out with Ghana earlier this week.

There are no new injuries for Vieira to worry about – James Tomkins and James McArthur are still out – meaning they could field the same starting lineup that drew at Brighton in their last outing.

Predicted Palace XI: Butland; Ward, Anderson, Guehi, Mitchell; Hughes, Gallagher, Schlupp; Olise, Eze, Edouard

 

4. Who’s out for Liverpool?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 4, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool will still have to make do without Thiago on Sunday, with the Spaniard now set to return after the upcoming international break.

Divock Origi is also sidelined, and though they remain doubts, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nat Phillips could make the squad.

The Reds continue to battle on without AFCON trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, all of whom have progressed to the next round of the competition.

 

5. Predicted Reds XI

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While no injuries emerged against Arsenal, the quick turnaround could lead to Klopp rotating his squad this weekend.

Matip’s potential absence means Ibrahima Konate could come into the back line – he could start even if his team-mate is fit.

Caoimhin Kelleher and Kaide Gordon started at Arsenal but are likely to make way, with Alisson and Takumi Minamino taking their places.

Possible Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Jota, Minamino, Firmino

 

6. Klopp respectful of Palace

Speaking to the media on Friday, Klopp admitted he is expecting a different challenge to the one that faced Liverpool last season when they won 7-0 at Selhurst Park:

“That was a one-off! These days happen, it’s a freak of nature and it doesn’t happen usually. Every shot we hit [went in]. They’ve changed and improved. They look like a really stable team now.

[…]

“It’s a really good Premier League team with a few really unlucky results I would say. We expect a really tough team.”

A repeat result wouldn’t go amiss, lads!

 

7. Liverpool’s superb record vs. the Eagles

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's Naby Keita (C) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The disastrous 3-3 draw at Selhurst Park in 2013/14 may forever be brought up, but Liverpool have an exceptional record against Palace of late.

In fact, the Reds are looking to seal a 10th consecutive win over the Eagles on Sunday.

Four of those have come away from home, starting with respective 2-1 and 2-0 triumphs in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Then came the dramatic 2-1 victory in the title-winning season, thanks to Roberto Firmino‘s late winner, before the 7-0 annihilation in December 2020.

It felt like Liverpool were going to be champions again after that game – sigh…

 

8. Did you know?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Andy Robertson (L) and Trent Alexander-Arnold before the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Steven Gerrard (99) is way out in front, there is an exciting race to be the second Liverpool player to register 50 Premier League assists.

Five current players are next in the running after the legendary former skipper, with Firmino leading the way with 45.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is just behind in third place with a tally of 44, while Salah (41), Andy Robertson (40) and Jordan Henderson (38) are also in the mix.

Who are you backing to get to their half-century first?

 

9. Friend hopefully not the enemy!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 27, 2020: Referee Kevin Friend during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Bromwich Albion FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kevin Friend has been confirmed as the referee for Sunday’s game, while Craig Pawson is on VAR duty.

This is the 50-year-old’s first Liverpool match of the season, with his last outing involving the Reds the 2-0 win at home to Southampton back in May.

Klopp’s men had a mixed record with Friend in charge in 2020/21, winning and drawing at home to West Ham and West Brom, respectively, not to mention losing against Brighton and Fulham at Anfield.

They were also knocked out by Arsenal in the League Cup fourth round on penalties, so he hasn’t exactly been Liverpool’s friend of late.

Sorry…

 

10. “And it’s live…”

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher and former Manchester United player Gary Neville working for Sky Sports before the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The weekend action is live on Sky Sports Main Event from 1pm (GMT), with kickoff at 2pm.

TIA’s matchday live blog will also be live from 1.15pm, with Dan Clubbe tasked with keeping you entertained throughout the afternoon.

Come on you Reds!

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