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    Liverpool v Crystal Palace Preview



    By Scott Hunt
    @scotthunt92

    If there are such things as ‘bogey sides’ in the Premier League, then it’s probably fair to say Liverpool’s is Crystal Palace. Reds fans need only think back as far as Steven Gerrard’s last Anfield appearance back in May for a reminder of their recent difficulties against the Eagles.

    Palace won 3-1 that day and dominated Brendan Rodgers’ side from start to finish. In fact, they have won three of their last five meetings with Liverpool, losing just once, and have scored 14 goals in their last seven games against the Reds.

    Things have changed at Anfield, with Rodgers replaced by the enigmatic German Jurgen Klopp and there seems to be a building momentum around the club. Last weekend’s impressive victory at Stamford Bridge was backed up by an equally noteworthy Europa League win over Rubin Kazan on Thursday, meaning Liverpool are in form heading into this clash with Palace.

    By contrast, Palace have lost four of their last seven league games with their attacking play at fault for some below par results. They have scored just one goal from open play in their last seven matches and their strikers have still not contributed a single goal all season.

    Palace manager Alan Pardew is aware of the qualities and threat of the Liverpool side they will face, but believes his side are capable of handling Klopp’s style of play.

    We've come up against everyone who is in form,” Pardew told his pre-match press conference.

    “Liverpool, United, Leicester. We're in that spell of facing teams with their tails up.

    “There's a high press from LFC under Klopp. We know that's coming and we can cope with that.

    “We have to be aware of the threat and try to capitalise on what they're not good at. We hope to exploit their defence.

    “Klopp's added the freshness of a new manager and that's gone into the players. I know on the sideline he's very similar to myself and we'll have to be kept apart!

    “I thought that Liverpool squad at the start of the year was a top four squad - and my mind hasn't changed.

    “They've got world class players and the emphasis is always on the Liverpool team to win.”

    Despite their stuttering form, Palace retain an impressive away record having taken 28 points on the road in 2015. They will be keen to use their counter-attacking potential to exploit a Liverpool side who have only kept one clean sheet in their last eight league matches.

    Victory for Palace would see them move above Liverpool in the table after the Reds leapfrogged them last weekend. Klopp’s men could be seven points adrift of the top four by the time they kick off on Sunday and will be anxious to keep touching distance with the sides above them.


    Key Men

    Christian Benteke appeared like a fish out of water during his first few games for Liverpool, with the teams style at odds to the way he wants to play. Under Klopp, things seem to have changed and more of a mix between possession and direct play has benefitted the big Belgian striker. The former Villa man has scored three goals in his last four league games and is acting as a key focal point for all of Liverpool’s attacking play. He is a man Palace must contain to have any chance on Sunday.

    Yannick Bolasie may be used as an auxiliary striker at Anfield and, if so, will need to provide a target for his side to hit as well as breaking in behind the Liverpool defence. Pardew praised his performance as a striker in last years victory at Anfield and believes he is capable of playing that role again if required. Given the struggles of Palace’s forwards so far this season, Pardew will be hopeful Bolasie can be more effective and give them more of an attacking edge than in recent weeks.


    Team News

    Philippe Countinho is expected to return to the side after being rested for the Europa League win, as are Martin Skrtel and Lucas. Jordan Henderson remains sidelined with a foot injury, while Jordan Ibe may be given another chance to impress after grabbing his first Liverpool goal in midweek.

    Pape Souare is fit to return for Palace but strikers Marouane Chamakh and Connor Wickham are still injury absentees. Lee Chung-Yong is likely to miss out with a foot injury while Dwight Gayle faces a late fitness test after picking up a hamstring problem.


    Prediction

    Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace



    Picture Source: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool v Crystal Palace Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Scott Hunt
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