Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Wednesday, June 24th @ 20:15
Current Odds – Liverpool 2/9, Draw 11/2, Crystal Palace 12/1
It looks like it’s going to take a little bit longer than expected, doesn’t it? Teams are short on match fitness and, with the lack of a crowd, there doesn’t seem to be much to get the adrenaline really pumping on the pitch. Manchester City seem to be flying now but they did start off with a home game against a pretty-much-spineless Arsenal side. Returning in a Merseyside derby was always going to be tougher than that. That said, more will be expected from The Reds against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
Jürgen Klopp’s men returned to Premier League action with a 0-0 draw at Everton on Sunday night. In what was a very tough game for Liverpool, Alisson was called into action on a couple of occasions. The Reds’ only real threats came from set-pieces with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho both forcing Jordan Pickford into saves.
Liverpool now just need five more points to win the league title. They can also secure the championship if they beat Palace on Wednesday and get at least a draw at City next week.
While we’d all love Liverpool to hunt down that 100-point Premier League record of Manchester City’s, we may have to settle for something a little less due to the circumstances of the season. Klopp is likely to blood some youth during the run-in, if/when the title is won.
After 30 years, I’ll take a league title in any shape or form.
Crystal Palace Form
Roy Hodgson’s high-flying Eagles have now won four league outings in a row. They returned with a 2-0 win at Bournemouth last Saturday thanks to goals from Luka Milivojevic and André Ayew.
Before the break enforced due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Hodgson’s men had racked up wins against Newcastle, Brighton and Watford. They haven’t conceded in the last four games either. Incidentally, the last goals scored against Palace were on Merseyside, when Everton beat them 3-1 at Goodison Park back in early February.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool hope to welcome back Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah to the starting lineup on Wednesday. Salah was on the bench at Everton while Robertson didn’t make the matchday squad. Klopp has confirmed, however, that he expects both players to feature against Crystal Palace.
James Milner and Joël Matip are likely to miss out after picking up injuries against Everton. Milner came off with a slight hamstring issue while Matip suffered a toe injury after a clash with Richarlison.
Dejan Lovren had a nightmare of a run-out on Sunday night. I doubt he will make the starting eleven against Palace. Joe Gomez could partner Virgil van Dijk in central-defence with Robertson coming in at left-back.
I think Jordan Henderson and Naby Keïta could be on the bench with Gini Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting with Fabinho in midfield.
The front line should be at full strength for The Reds.
Crystal Palace Team News
Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp and James Tomkins are all carrying slight knocks and will face late fitness tests before the Anfield encounter.
Roy Hodgson set his team up in a more attacking 4-3-3 shape for the win at Bournemouth last weekend. That won’t be the case on Wednesday night, though. He will likely drop back to a 4-5-1 formation with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend providing the width from midfield.
I think André Ayew will get the nod to lead the line for Palace after his goalscoring performance on Saturday.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Crystal Palace XI (4-5-1) – Guaita; Ward, Dann, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Townsend, Kouyaté, Milivojevic, McArthur, Zaha; Ayew
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool won 2-1 in a hard-fought encounter at Selhurst Park in November. Sadio Mané gave Liverpool the lead just after half time. Wilfried Zaha equalised late on for the home team but Roberto Firmino restored The Reds’ lead five minutes from time.
The last meeting at Anfield was a 4-3 win for Liverpool thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah (x2), Firmino and Mané. Scorers for The Eagles that day were Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Max Meyer.
LIVERPOOL 2 – 1 CRYSTAL PALACE
Liverpool are five points away from the holy grail. It’s just four points if at least one of those points is won at Manchester City next week. Many of us are expecting The Reds to win on Wednesday. However, it’s not that long since Palace were Liverpool’s bogey team, winning on three consecutive visits to Anfield a few years back. The last two of those were during Klopp’s first seasons at the club. The result is not a foregone conclusion by any means. I think Liverpool will sneak a win in a scrappy game.