Who: Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
When: Saturday, November 23rd @ 10:00am ET
Line: Crystal Palace +600 | Draw +375 | Liverpool -240
The international break coming after a highly emotional win over fourth place Manchester City could serve as a timely break for Liverpool.
If the Reds had to travel to London to play Crystal Palace within a week of their decisive 3-1 victory over the FOURMIDABLES, the match would have “trap” or “let-down” potential written all over it.
Instead, the two weeks now seems like an eternity. Even Pep agrees. See:
Those two weeks is plenty of time to put leaving City 9 points in your wake behind and focus on a surprisingly solid Palace side. Liverpool are heavy favorites as they should be. However, they’re dealing with potential injury and fitness issues. And Palace tend to play Liverpool and City strong. This one won’t be easy.
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool Preview
First and foremost, Liverpool are dealing with an uncharacteristic number of injuries. What will the starting XI look like this match?
Mo Salah and Andy Robertson are recovering from ankle knocks. As of Tuesday, both are listed as 50% probability to play. Gini Wijnaldum is ill and may not be fit by Saturday. Joe Gomez picked up a knee injury during international duty. Joel Matip is not ready to return.
If none of the above can suit up, expect James Milner to fill in for Robbo. With another goal this week in international duty, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is ready for a first team call up in place of Gini. Divock Origi can fill in for Salah and will likely score the game winner in stoppage because that’s what he does. Liverpool’s squad depth is not an issue. It’s an asset.
Of players with over 250 domestic minutes, Milner only trails Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino in xG+xA per 90 minutes. He’s a more than capable one match fill-in for Robertson. Ox is on fire. He’s looking like pre-knee injury Ox again. Origi is Origi.
Sure, any time Salah isn’t in a match, Liverpool’s offense suffers. However, Palace aren’t exactly a defensive fortress. They’re 13th in xGA (20.20). They’re also poor defending counters and attacks down the flanks. So even if Salah can’t go, dealing with Sadio Mane’s pace will cause them constant headaches. Expect Klopp to maybe even roll with Ox at forward instead of Origi given his speed. It’s all about the match-ups.
Regardless, as stated, Palace tend to give Liverpool and City problems. In fact, Liverpool’s last EPL loss at Anfield was to Palace in April of 2017. Sure, that’s over 2 years ago. But Palace has taken points from City in consecutive seasons. It’s a mentally tough squad that rises to the occasion against the best of the best.
Palace has also been punching over their weight this season and picking up points where they shouldn’t. Credit to Roy Hodgson for getting the lads playing hard. Hodgson was a preseason sack candidate. Now he’s got Palace safely above the relegation zone in 12th place. However, xPTs has Palace more like 17th. They have some deficiencies.
Scoring is an issue for the Eagles. Their best player, Wilfried Zaha, has yet to find the net. The scoring burden so far has been squarely on point man Jordan Ayew up top. He’s got 4 for the season. But he’s doing it mostly on his own. Palace simply aren’t creating open play opportunities. Individual skill will only take you so far against Europe’s top backline.
Palace could have a formational advantage this match though. They’ll likely play a 4-5-1 with Ayew up top. Those extra numbers in midfield could cause Liverpool’s attacking wingback fulcrum(s) of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (or James Milner) some issues. Disrupt TAA and Robbo like Manchester United did, and use Zaha’s pace on counters to create scoring opportunities. There are worse plans to be had.
Still, there are a lot of “ifs” for Palace to be successful.
Selhurst Park will be jacked up. Palace will show up. But Liverpool have superior players and manager. And it’s not particularly close. Only Zaha would crack a combined starting XI of the squads. It’ll be a scrap, but Liverpool prevail 2-0.