28 October 2016

Liverpool at Crystal Palace 10.29.16

12:30pm ET, live in the US on NBC

Last four head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (a) 03.06.16
2-1 Palace (h) 11.08.15
3-1 Palace (h) 05.16.15
2-1 Liverpool (h; FA Cup) 02.14.15

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 Tottenham (h); 2-1 West Brom (h); 0-0 United (h)
Palace: 1-3 Leicester (a); 0-1 West Ham (h); 1-1 Everton (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Coutinho, Mané, Milner 4; Firmino, Lallana 3; Henderson, Lovren 1
Palace: Benteke 3; Dann, McArthur 2; Cabaye, Ledley, Tomkins, Townsend, Zaha 1

Referee: Andre Marriner

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Matip Lovren Milner
Lallana Henderson Wijnaldum
Mané Firmino Coutinho

It still seems slightly unfair to leave Sturridge out after scoring twice against Tottenham's kids on Tuesday, but that's where Liverpool are at the moment. That's how potent Mané-Firmino-Coutinho has been.

There's a concern over Milner, ill on Tuesday and withheld from full training on Wednesday and Thursday, but unless he's still sick, I suspect he'll play. And there seems a small chance that Emre Can keeps his place, left out midweek while Wijnaldum returned from injury, impressive against West Brom and a taller, stronger player who could be useful when defending set plays.

Otherwise, Liverpool are what Liverpool are. Sometimes shaky in defense, especially on set plays, but sometimes actually good, especially when it comes to limiting opposition shots. And often really, really good in attack, both with and without the ball.

And then there's Crystal Palace. A team who often starts strong against Liverpool, one of those sides who immediately looks to take the game to Liverpool. A team Liverpool's beaten just once in the last five meetings: the last meeting, when Christian Benteke won and scored a 95th-minute penalty. As I suspect you're aware, Christian Benteke now plays for Crystal Palace. The same Christian Benteke who's scored four goals in his last five matches against Liverpool.

Benteke is a near-perfect fit for Palace, a side that likes to attack, but with long balls and crosses. You know, two things Liverpool deal really, really, really, really well with.

Hmmmm. In Liverpool's defense (kind of, maybe), all three of those goals came from the second ball after Liverpool failed to deal with the initial cross.

Also from Bass Tuned to Red:



Scott Dann should return after missing the last four matches – one of Palace's main set play threats and scorer of the winner when these sides met at Anfield a year ago – but Jason Puncheon's still doubtful, likely to be replaced by Cabaye. The likely XI is Mandanda; Ward, Tomkins, Dann, Kelly; Ledley, McArthur; Townsend, Cabaye, Zaha; Benteke. Ledley, Tomkins, and McArthur are also excellent headers of the ball, Cabaye's great from direct free kicks, and both Zaha and Townsend are incredibly fast and tricky on counters.

But Crystal Palace are also yet to keep a league clean sheet this season. It's usually just one goal conceded – in seven of nine matches so far – but Sunderland scored twice and Leicester three times in their last match. Liverpool's attack is far more potent than either of those sides. Usually. But, to be fair, both of those Palace matches were away from home.

So it could be more of the same. Frighten in defense and maybe concede at least once unnecessarily, but do enough in attack to win the match. As against Swansea, West Brom, and Tottenham in the last three matches. But Liverpool still need to uphold its end of the bargain, at both ends of the pitch.

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