The eagerly anticipated return of the Premier League went with….well, a bit of a whimper, actually. The lack of a crowd will always impact upon the atmosphere of historic and bitterly-contested games like the Merseyside derby, and Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Everton was a fairly tepid affair – unsurprising, really, given the circumstances.
Jurgen Klopp rang the changes with his team selection, opting to field Takumi Minamino in a rare Premier League start ahead of Mo Salah, while James Milner came in for Andy Robertson at left back. Both of those selections severely hampered our attacking progress.
The Reds had their moments, but their passing and interchanges lacked their usual snap and verve – forgivable given the amount of time away from the game – and this contest fizzled out into a goalless draw, even if Everton fans might think their side cold have nicked it towards the end.
Klopp wasn’t too disheartened by the showing, however. “The point is one we deserve,” he said. “Everton were well organised, so we had to run a lot but we looked fit and ready.
“Now we’ve got three days. Crystal Palace looked good on Saturday and we have to make sure we are ready for Wednesday.”
Liverpool will make their Anfield bow against the Eagles in midweek, but who did indeed look good in their thumping of Bournemouth at the weekend. There should be no resting of laurels – even without the Kop cheering the boys on – particularly as three points will all but guarantee the Premier League title.
Indeed, should the Reds win on Wednesday and Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea on Thursday the title triumph would be complete….food for thought!
Liverpool Team News
The decisions taken on the fitness of Salah and Robertson have left many scratching their head – why were they not considered to be fit enough to play against the Toffees?
Talking to the club’s official website, Klopp explained the situation. “After four weeks’ pre-season and preparation, we cannot ignore that we play again on Wednesday,” he said when quizzed on Sunday’s team selection. “I just can’t. It’s not the last game of the season, so I have to think a little bit about it.
“Some players couldn’t train in the last week – they trained, but not with the team – like Mo and Robbo, but yesterday they were in training and both looked really good. That’s why Mo is in the squad, Robbo not yet but on Wednesday [he will be] again.”
So it’s good news on both fronts, and especially as we picked up a couple of new injuries against Everton. James Milner went off after tweaking his hamstring – presumably he won’t feature here, while Klopp also reported that Joel Matip was feeling his ankle after taking a knock.
Let’s assume then that Robertson and Salah come into the side, with Joe Gomez replacing Matip at centre back. Will there be other changes? It will be tough to ask his players to play 180 minutes in 72 hours having been away so long, and so we expect others to be rested.
There’s an element of guesswork here, but perhaps Gini Wijnaldum will start ahead of Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in for Naby Keita and Divock Origi for Sadio Mane?
Crystal Palace Form
Form is all relative at the minute, of course, with the games coming thick and fast and squad rotation likely.
But it has to be said that Crystal Palace did look good against Bournemouth at the weekend. They took the lead through an excellent Luka Milivojevic free kick, and while they didn’t dominate they still looked dangerous at times – confirmed when Jordan Ayew notched a second.
You know what you’re getting with a Roy Hodgson team: well organised and diligent, they are tough to break down and that is proven by the fact that the Eagles have shipped just 32 goals this term – only one more than Manchester City and two less than Wolves.
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace Betting Tips
That last point in the section above is the key determining factor in where the betting money is going here.
With Palace so tough to break down, and Liverpool’s attacking play still lacking a bit of rhythm, it’s surprising that the bookies make Over 2.5 Goals such a warm odds-on chance.
Sometimes it’s better to be contrary in your betting, and at 11/10 we’re more than willing to take the chance on a low-scoring affair.
If you want to extend that angle, you could of course back Liverpool to win 1-0 (9/2) and 2-0 (11/2). If either wins, you’ll return roughly 4.5x your stake.