Liverpool face their final game in a three week run against aerial threat as they take on Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace this Sunday.
If Liverpool can take three points they’ll take another big step towards securing a top four place, on a weekend where many around them don’t play in the league due to FA Cup commitments.
Match: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
Date: Sunday 23rd April
Time: 16:30 BST
Liverpool are flying right now, although you might not guess it given the way the Reds have ground out wins in the last few weeks. Unbeaten in seven, winning five of those games, Liverpool have reclaimed their place in the top four – for now.
Having seen off the likes of Arsenal and Burnley, a stumble at home to Bournemouth only increased nerves ahead of away challenges at Stoke City and West Brom, two grounds Liverpool hate going to. However, Klopp’s men passed those tests with flying colours, winning 2-1 and then 1-0, Roberto Firmino firing in the winner both times.
Looking at the table, *if* Manchester City, United and Arsenal win all their games in hand, the fourth placed Reds will be ahead of United on goal difference, a point behind City and three ahead of Arsenal. However, the Manchester club’s have to play one-another as a game in hand, whilst all three face tricky fixtures before the season finishes.
Palace are looking at an interesting picture of their own even further down the table, having turned their season around eventually under Allardyce despite a slow start when he was brought in. Since Liverpool loanee Mamadou Sakho got into the side, Palace have taken 16 points from 21, keeping four clean-sheets and beating the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal.
Those wins hauled the Eagles out of the relegation zone, but they still need one or two more points to keep themselves away from trouble in the closing weeks. Last time out they showed some impressive team spirit, coming from two goals down to tie 2-2 at Leicester City.
Liverpool’s injury crisis hasn’t got any better this week as it was revealed that Jordan Henderson could be out for the rest of the season, with recovery from his foot injury not going as quickly as hoped.
Defensive issues continue with Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva all having missed training at some points this week, potentially leaving Joe Gomez to come in alongside Dejan Lovren. Adam Lallana is on his way back but won’t be involved against Palace, leaving Klopp hoping that he can name an unchanged side should Lucas and Matip make it.
Palace will be without their two front-line defenders in Scott Dann (injured) and Mamadou Sakho (unavailable) so they could be weaker than normal at the back, although it’s in attack where they’ll pose the main threat with the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum; Firmino, Coutinho, Origi.
Predicted Palace XI: Hennessey; Ward, Tomkins, Kelly, Van-Aanholt; Milivojevic, Cabaye; Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend; Benteke.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool had the better of a rollercoaster game at Selhurst Park in the Autumn, winning 4-2 and even scoring twice from corners. A fantastic game for the neutral looked like it could go either way as Liverpool led 3-2 during the second-half, before an exquisite dink from Roberto Firmino over Steve Mandanda sealed it.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 2-1 PALACE
Another nervy one here, for me. Liverpool seem to have learnt to grind out wins and I expect them to do so again, although those fine margin’s could swing it back in Palace’s favour. They’ll likely score as Liverpool defending well for two weeks in a row just isn’t a thing, but I’m backing Divock Origi to return to the goals and make the difference.