Liverpool will resume their Premier League campaign following an important away win in Germany which saw the Reds down a spirited Hoffenheim 1-2 at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
On Saturday, they will play their first game in front of their own fans at Anfield—against a new look Crystal Palace side managed by former Inter Milan and Ajax boss Frank De Boer. Following a disappointing yet hugely entertaining opening weekend draw against Watford away from home, it’s important that the Merseyside club build on the momentum gained from a positive result in midweek.
Frank De Boer had a tough initiation to the Premier League at Selhurst Park—which ended in a comprehensive 0-3 defeat at the hands of newly promoted Huddersfield Town. The former Netherlands defender would have learnt some lessons the hard way and in an increasingly reactionary sport like football where you are only as good as your previous result, Saturday’s defeat will be quickly forgotten should the Eagles upset the apple cart and pick up a good result at Anfield, in a stadium they have had some success in recent years.
Philippe Coutinho, fresh from handing in a transfer request, could return for Liverpool from a back injury should Klopp feel he is capable in both fitness and mentality. Elsewhere, Nathaniel Clyne and Daniel Sturridge are unlikely to be risked despite close to overcoming their respective hamstring and thigh complaints.
Wilfried Zaha is expected to miss at least four weeks of the new season after damaging his right knee against Huddersfield. With Frank De Boer light on attacking options, Andros Townsend is expected to start in his place. Yohan Cabaye played for the Under-23s in midweek so could feature given Palace’s depleted ranks.
- Liverpool haven’t kept a clean sheet against Crystal Palace in 13 competitive matches, since a 0-0 draw in an FA Cup 4th round tie in January 2003.
- Crystal Palace are looking to become the first side to win four consecutive top-flight games versus Liverpool at Anfield since Arsenal in December 1935.
- Christian Benteke has scored five goals in his previous three Premier League games at Anfield as an opposition player, more than he has at any other away ground in the competition.
Key Men Comparison
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Salah embodies what Liverpool are as a unit going forward under Jurgen Klopp; quick, incisive, and devastating on the break. The 25-year old returned to England on the back of a prolific individual campaign in Italy, scoring and assisting a combined 26 goals. A similar return for Liverpool would be vital for their chances of pushing for a first league title in 28 years especially given the strong likelihood of the Reds losing Brazilian Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona before the end of this window.
Christian Benteke – Crystal Palace
Benteke has done a lot of damage for and against Liverpool in recent seasons. The towering center forward is exactly the sort of player the home side struggle defending against and that shows in his scoring record in the last 3 games at Anfield as an opposition player. It will be interesting to see how De Boer sets his team up to counter a high pressing Liverpool and should they play to the Belgian’s strengths by going long and bypassing the midfield, Benteke holds the key to the visitors putting another dent on the Reds’ recent disappointments on-and-off the pitch.
With one eye on the second leg against Hoffenheim, it would be understandable if they lacked 100% focus on Saturday’s opponents. But the home side should still have enough firepower to outscore a Crystal Palace still trying to find their feet under the new regime.
Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace