Will Benteke Bewitch the Reds? | Crystal Palace vs Liverpool Preview
Crystal Palace present the next test for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Saturday, with the Reds hoping to well and truly banish the ghosts of previous matches against Palace as Halloween approaches.
The Reds will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 games, and a win in London would only strengthen their title credentials.
Match: Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
Venue: Selhurst Park
Date: Saturday 29th October
Time: 17:30 BST
Referee: Andre Marriner
As already mentioned, Klopp’s side are on a long unbeaten run, having enjoyed a marvellous start to the 2016/17 season.
A topsy-turvy beginning was followed up by four straight league wins, the Reds’ momentum was somewhat halted last Monday when Manchester United defended their way to a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
However, Liverpool bounced back perfectly at home to West Brom just five days later, winning 2-1 – a scoreline which certainly flattered the Baggies. Just for good measure, another win was achieved in midweek, Daniel Sturridge celebrating a much-welcomed return to form by bagging a brace in the 2-1 EFL Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur, setting up a quarter-final meeting with Leeds United.
Given the way in which they collapsed towards the back-end of last season, Palace fans will be glad to see their side sitting in mid-table with a quarter of the season gone.
It took them four games to pick up a Premier League win, but once they managed one Alan Pardew’s men went on a three-match winning streak, only halted by a credible 1-1 draw away at Goodison Park. However, results haven’t been as kind recently, with defeat at home to West Ham followed up with a 3-1 mauling away at Leicester City last weekend.
Liverpool could sit fourth by kick-off on Saturday, if Tottenham defeat Leicester, but a win could take the Reds top by the end of the weekend’s action. Currently sitting in 11th, Palace have the potential to move as high as seventh based on other results.
Having made 11 changes for the Spurs cup tie, it’s likely that Klopp will completely revert back to the side that beat West Brom. However, that would mean the exclusion of Georginio Wijnaldum, who was an ever-present in Klopp’s league side before injury forced him out of contention to start the United and WBA fixtures.
If Wijnaldum is selected, it would likely see Emre Can returning to the bench, with Jordan Henderson having nailed down the holding role for the time being whilst further forward Adam Lallana is in the form of his life.
Despite Sturridge striking twice on Tuesday, Roberto Firmino can be confident in keeping his starting place, with Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho to either side.
Liverpool fans will be positively horrified to hear that Scott Dann, who has a good record against the Reds, is set to return to the Palace line-up after injury. However, another of Liverpool’s previous tormentors – Jason Puncheon – is a doubt due to a calf problem. Loic Remy and Pape Souare are also sidelined. Christian Benteke will be in the Palace line-up for his first game against Liverpool after leaving in the summer, and many are expecting the Belgian to expose the Reds’ high-ball vulnerabilities with a goal.
Liverpool Predicted XI (4-3-3): Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho.
Crystal Palace Predicted XI (4-3-3): Mandanda; Ward, Dann, Tomkins, Kelly; Cabaye, McArthur, Ledley; Zaha, Benteke, Townsend.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool actually managed a surprise win at Selhurst Park the last time these two met, in March of last season. Things looked grim as Joe Ledley put the Eagles ahead, before James Milner was sent off for a second bookable offence in the second half. However, against the odds, the Reds battled back to win through a Roberto Firmino equaliser and a last minute penalty. Who took that penalty? Christian Benteke.
Earlier in the season, Palace had taken three points at Anfield, with a late winner from Scott Dann leaving Klopp rueing “that f*****g loss to Crystal Palace” for weeks to come.
- Christian Benteke has scored five goals in six games against Liverpool.
- There hasn’t been a clean sheet in this fixture for eight games.
- The away side has won this fixture for the last four meetings.
- Liverpool have only won three of their past nine fixtures against Palace.
PREDICTION: Crystal Palace 2-2 Liverpool
I’ve been pretty nailed on with my predictions so far this season, so I hope I’m wrong come Saturday. A high-scoring game as Palace aren’t the defensive unit they were under Tony Pulis, but one Liverpool will struggle to win, with Benteke causing all sorts of trouble in the penalty area, with added pace from Zaha and Townsend on the counter-attack. A high scoring draw.