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    Liverpool vs Crystal Palace Match Preview


    Liverpool will edge closer to Champions League qualification with victory over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday in a match that has consequences at both ends of the table.

    Jurgen Klopp's team will move to within two points of second-place Tottenham Hotspur with a win, while anything less than maximum points would open the door for top-four rivals Arsenal as well as both Manchester sides.

    Crystal Palace come into the game in excellent form, with recent wins over Chelsea and Arsenal, but the club still need one more victory to virtually guarantee their Premier League status for another season.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool have strengthened their grip on a top-four position in recent weeks with vital wins over Everton, Stoke and West Bromwich Albion, with only the 2-2 draw against Bournemouth preventing the club from taking maximum points so far this month.

    Last Sunday's victory against West Brom, in which Roberto Firmino scored the game's only goal, gave The Reds a six-point lead over fifth-place Manchester United in the battle for the Champions League places.

    Jurgen Klopp's side were never at their best in a disappointing game but Firmino's header on the stroke of half-time, in addition to a second Premier League clean sheet in the last 14 games, earned the visitors all three points.

    The defence that performed so solidly last weekend could be disrupted for the visit of Crystal Palace, with Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva all nursing minor injuries that have prevented the trio from training this week.

    Influential midfielders Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson have already been ruled out so Klopp will once again call upon Brazilian duo Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho to produce match-winning performances.

    Manchester United could reduce Liverpool's lead in the race for a top-four spot to three points with victory over Burnley earlier in the afternoon, with both Manchester City and Arsenal turning their attentions to a meeting in this weekend's FA Cup semi-finals.

    Simon Mignolet, meanwhile, was given a vote of confidence this week when Klopp revealed he has no plans to sign England stopper Joe Hart this summer just days after the Belgian made a vital save to prevent The Baggies scoring a late equaliser.

    Crystal Palace

    Crystal Palace are enjoying their best spell of the season having conjured up six wins from their last 10 games, which has allowed the club to climb seven points above the relegation zone with a game in hand.

    Sam Allardyce's first task upon taking charge of the club, shortly before Christmas, was to sort out the club's leaky defence, which had only kept one clean sheet in the league from the first 17 games of the campaign.

    His arrival seemed to have made little impact, with The Eagles shipping 14 goals in his first eight matches in charge as the club slumped to 19th in the table with only 13 games of the season remaining.

    Over the past two months, however, Allardyce's side have formed a solid and organised defence, which has kept four clean sheets in their last seven matches and has provided the basis for an upturn in form.

    Four consecutive victories over Middlesbrough, West Brom, Watford and Chelsea, followed shortly after with a win against Arsenal, has seen the club almost assured of preserving their Premier League status for a fifth consecutive season.

    The signing of Mamadou Sakho, one of five that Allardyce made in the January transfer window, has been something of a masterstroke with the Liverpool loanee producing some inspirational performances at the back.

    In addition to having an excellent defence, The Eagles also have a number of potential match-winners with Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha all producing red-hot form in recent weeks.

    Liverpool Team News

    The Reds are still without midfielders Jordan Henderson (foot) and Adam Lallana (thigh) for the visit of Crystal Palace, with Henderson now likely to miss the rest of the season although Lallana is expected to return to normal training next week.

    Sadio Mane will definitely miss the remaining five matches of the campaign having undergone surgery on the knee injury that he sustained in the Merseyside derby on April 1.

    Joel Matip and Lucas Leiva are both slight doubts with muscular injuries, while Ragnar Klavan has a minor knee ligament problem and is racing against the clock to be fit by Sunday.

    Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan (both knee) have already been ruled out for the remainder of the season, with Ovie Ejaria also on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

    Crystal Palace Team News

    Crystal Palace will be without defender Scott Dann for a fourth successive game, due to a knee injury, while on loan defender Mamadou Sakho also misses out as he is ineligible to face his parent club.

    James Tomkins is set to partner former Liverpool defender Martin Kelly in central defence, with the 28-year-old missing the last three weeks due to the calf muscle strain he sustained against Chelsea.

    Loic Remy also returns to the squad after a spell out with a calf strain although there is still no place for Frazier Campbell, who has not played since January and is recovering from a hamstring injury.

    Striker Connor Wickham and defender Pape Souare will not play again this season, with Wickham rupturing a cruciate knee ligament in November and Souare sustaining a broken leg in a car crash two months earlier.

    Head-to-head


    Although Crystal Palace have lost their last two matches against Liverpool, they have recently enjoyed their most successful period against Sunday's opponents with seven wins, two draws and only four defeats from their 13 previous encounters.

    Liverpool had only lost once against The Eagles in the first 18 matches between the sides, heading into the FA Cup semi-finals in 1990, but Alan Pardew's winner at Villa Park that day earned Palace a famous 4-3 victory.

    It was the first of five victories that Palace enjoyed against The Reds in eight meetings between 1990 and 1992, although Liverpool regained their dominance to win five of the subsequent seven matches.


    Jurgen Klopp's side have dominated the all-time head-to-head with 24 wins and 11 draws from 48 encounters, while they also have a superior record in Premier League matches with eight wins and three draws from 15 games.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 2-1 Crystal Palace
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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