Liverpool will be looking to make it four wins on the bounce in all competitions when they face a Crystal Palace team which did the double over them last season, but have found goals hard to come by in recent weeks.
The signs are very encouraging so far for the Reds under Jurgen Klopp, whose pressing game has clearly been bought into by the squad, who are beginning to look much more of a fluent force on the pitch. It all came together at Chelsea last weekend, where they recovered from the setback of going behind early on to run out richly deserved winners, and the pleasing thing for Klopp is that he still has a couple of key players to return from injury in the coming weeks.
Christian Benteke made all the difference after coming off the bench at Stamford Bridge, playing an integral part in both the second half goals which turned the game in the club’s favour. At the back, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel are appearing more secure as a central defensive pairing, while Thursday’s Europa League match-winner Jordon Ibe is someone who seems to have been given a new lease of life. If they can make it four in a row, then Liverpool will suddenly become a side to watch out for.
However, facing Crystal Palace is a difficult proposition for any team, even if things have not gone quite their way of late. Having sat in the lofty heights of third position after beating Watford at the end of September, a run of one point from the last nine available has seen them slide to mid-table, although their five defeats this season have all come against teams in the current top six. Three of their last four goals have come from the penalty spot; all converted by Yohan Cabaye.
The Frenchman was guilty of missing his side’s best chance to pick up all three points last time out at home to Manchester United, who they restricted to very few chances. For all of their attacking flair, the Eagles’ recent struggle for goals may be due to a lack of a focal point, with Marouane Chamakh and Connor Wickham both unavailable through injury. Despite his goal-poaching prowess, link-up play does not come naturally to Dwight Gayle.
Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge are still out for Liverpool, who are expected to recall several players who were rested for the game against Rubin Kazan.
Palace remain unable to call upon Chamakh and Wickham, but left-back Pape Souare has recovered from injury and should play. Gayle faces a late fitness test.
Last Meeting: Steven Gerrard bade farewell to Anfield in May, but the team served up a miserable performance which was seized upon by a dynamic Palace. Adam Lallana ran through and put the hosts ahead early on, but Jason Puncheon levelled with a fine free-kick just before half-time. Alan Pardew’s side dominated the second half and Wilfried Zaha netted on the hour mark, before Glenn Murray sealed it late on.