Crystal Palace will be hoping that their inexorable slide down the table can be remedied by a home clash against Liverpool, the team that they have impressively had the better of in each of their last three Premier League meetings.
The Londoners must have thought that a demoralising run without a top-flight victory was set to come to a welcome end last time out against Sunderland as they went into the dying stages carrying a priceless lead. However, they did not count on Fabio Borini’s bolt from the blue and a lot will depend here on how they respond to that, as given the form they are on it could be easy to feel sorry for themselves, especially with manager Alan Pardew not ruling out the possibility of a relegation scrap.
On the bright side, Connor Wickham finally seems to have discovered his scoring boots as he has managed four goals in his previous two games. If he is fit and can maintain that kind of form the Eagles should be in no such danger, while here his strength has the potential to unsettle the Liverpool backline. Set-pieces could also prove to be an avenue for success, with Scott Dann looking for a repeat of winner at Anfield back in November.
That was Jurgen Klopp’s first loss in charge of Liverpool, and since then they have perhaps not made the progress he would have liked, or indeed what the supporters may have envisaged. The limitations of the squad is the primary explanation for that, but in reality a place in the top four remains arguably in sight as it is a mark that they now trail by just seven points, so although Klopp will not have it completely in his sights, it is certainly achievable provided they can find some consistency.
And nothing sums up the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Reds’ performances this season than the two games they have played in the last week, both against Manchester City. In the Capital One Cup final they struggled almost throughout to find any sort of fluency as countless passes went astray and they duly lost on penalties, but they responded with one of their most dominant home outings and won 3-0, with Roberto Firmino proving just as influential there as he was frustrating at Wembley. One wonders what they will serve up here.
Wickham will hope to make this one after picking up a slight injury in the week, and Palace also have doubts over goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Left-back Pape Souare returns from suspension.
Lucas Leiva will miss several weeks for Liverpool due to a thigh injury, but Daniel Sturridge and Mamadou Sakho should feature after missing the game in midweek.
Last Meeting: An insipid Liverpool suffered a 3-1 defeat in November 2014 despite an early opening goal scored by Rickie Lambert, who poked the ball past Julian Speroni after just two minutes. Dwight Gayle was on hand to equalise before two goals in four second half minutes won it for Palace as Joe Ledley capitalised on poor defending to slot home before Mile Jedinak curled in an excellent free-kick.
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