A Merseyside derby, sandwiched in-between the two legs of our Champions League quarter final with Manchester City, all preceded by a game against Crystal Palace which looks far easier on paper than it is in reality.
It’s hardly the dream week or so for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool FC, and the international break has not exactly offered the requisite respite with key men jetting off to all four corners of the globe.
Happily, most have been on European soil. Mo Salah was an unused substitute in Egypt’s 0-1 defeat to Greece on Tuesday, which was played in Switzerland, so he should hopefully be back on terra firma on Wednesday.
Sadio Mane played in Senegal’s 0-0 draw with Bosnia Herzegovina, but that match was splayed in France, while Roberto Firmino sat out Brazil’s 1-0 win over Germany in Berlin.
So the good news is that even though our global squad has been representing their national teams this past week, most have done so in Europe; negating the effects of jet lag.
There have been a couple of injury casualties, with Emre Can and Joe Gomez both picking up injuries while on duty. The Liverpool Echo is reporting that Gomez definitely misses out against Palace on Saturday with an ankle injury, although there is a slim chance that Can could have shaken off his back problem in time.
Palace are scrapping for their lives at the wrong end of the Premier League table – not aided by a poor start and a gamut of injuries, but the players are doing their best under Roy Hodgson to arrest their slide and they are all behind the cause; unlike other relegation-threatened sides. Saturday’s game represents a huge challenge, and Klopp and co will not be taking it lightly.
Liverpool Team News
Will the manager have one eye on the Manchester City clash on Wednesday? Of course he will, but he won’t be taking Crystal Palace lightly and the need to finish inside the top four is a priority at the moment.
As mentioned, all of our front three were in international action this week but on European soil, so there is no reason why they can’t start at Selhurst Park.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will deputise at right back for Gomez, while we would expect Joel Matip to partner Virgil van Dijk at centre back. Not once but twice this season Dejan Lovren has been bullied by physical frontmen – first Harry Kane and then Romelu Lukaku – and they don’t come much more physical than Palace’s Christian Benteke.
In midfield it remains to be seen whether Can will return to fitness quickly enough to figure, but it’s worth remembering that the Eagles only play two central midfielders, so Jordan Henderson holding and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gigi Wijnaldum or even Adam Lallana, who was hardly taxed in his substitute appearance for England against Italy, could start.
Crystal Palace Form
It was a tough few weeks for Palace just prior to the international break, with a lengthy injury list exacerbating a run of fixtures which saw them take on Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea back to back.
They lost each of those – good news for us that they struggled against ‘big six’ sides – although it should be said that they gave an excellent account of themselves on all three occasions and really should have beaten United after taking a 2-0 lead into half-time.
Their last outing prior to the internationals was a resounding 2-0 win over Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool Betting Tips
There is a really nice 15/8 punt that is pretty hard to ignore here.
That price is available on Liverpool to Win & Both Teams to Score, and the recent evidence suggests there is more than just a semblance of value in that.
We give a nod to the fact that Palace are a decent side who will give us an excellent game on Saturday, but we also have to recognise that since Christmas they have lost to Arsenal (twice), Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United. Essentially, when they come up against a quality outfit they tend to come off second best.
But the Eagles don’t have any problems putting the ball in the net; they’ve notched in 14 of their last 16 Premier League outings. They are a force going forward, and despite their two most recent blanks coming against Manchester City and Tottenham, they are tough to stop at full flight.
So when we put all the stats and evidence into the melting pot, that 15/8 shout becomes difficult to turn down.