Liverpool v Crystal Palace | Opposition Insight

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By Daniel Ghorbal

Having failed to pick up three points against newly promoted Fulham last weekend, Liverpool come into this Monday Night clash with Crystal Palace knowing that three points is absolutely essential.

With the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal impressing early on and picking up maximum points, the reds need to keep up pace with the top of the league and ensure that last week’s result was merely a blip. Crystal Palace suffered opening day defeat against Arsenal and despite the disappointment, Patrick Vieira can take positives from their second half display.

Palace took the game to Arsenal and just missed a bit of cutting edge going forward, ultimately losing the match 2-0. Losing their first two games of the season would be far from an ideal start, but the feeling around Selhurst Park is that they are building something strong and with the exuberant forward options at their disposal, they can come to Anfield and play with no fear.

One of the key reasons Palace performed so strongly last season was because of the defensive base they formed. The additions of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen have been influential for the new philosophy being established, two players that are comfortable on the ball and possess an excellent range of passing. Guehi, signed from Chelsea, is now Palace’s captain and a leader at the back.

Although he is not the biggest or quickest, his football intelligence allows him to read the game well and against someone like Darwin Nunez, reliance on those traits will help him get the better of Liverpool’s attacking sensation. Likewise; Andersen’s presence at the heart of defence is prevalent, a real threat from set-pieces and someone who can get the Eagles out of danger with his aerial dominance.

Andersen’s performance against Arsenal was highlighted as being phenomenal, with critics especially impressed by his ability to switch the play and pick out audacious diagonals. Against a pressing side like Liverpool, having that ability to pick out an accurate long-ball as opposed to just hitting into touch is crucial for the outcome of the game. Having the ball constantly recycled can be mentally and physically difficult to cope with, but with the central defenders having these abilities, whoever is up front for Palace tonight will have something to fight for regularly.

One thing that caused Liverpool lots of problems against Fulham was the intensity of their midfield, something that Palace need to match if they are to come away from Anfield with a result. New signing Cheick Doucoure is supposedly a very press-resistant midfielder with superb energy.

With Jeffrey Schlupp likely to be alongside him and Ebere Eze in front, there is a nice balance to the South Londoner’s midfield. The latter missed large spells of last season through injury, but his return to fitness has been welcomed as he provides some much needed creativity to the ranks.

Eze was really starting to exert his quality on the biggest stage prior to his injury, so to see him return is a huge positive for the club. Picking up pockets between the midfield and forward line is his forte, something Fabinho will have to watch very carefully throughout the match.

Interestingly, Crystal Palace were the last team to beat Liverpool in Premier League match at a full capacity Anfield, with former player Christian Benteke scoring two. Despite it being over five years ago now, they boast a decent record at one of the toughest places to go, and that alone could provide them with a confidence boost on the day. Wilfred Zaha is a man who thrives on the biggest occasion and will take the game to Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Trent Alexander-Arnold loves to get forward but will have to be in an athletic mood tonight, as Zaha can certainly shift. It would not shock me to see Palace deploy a tactic in which a midfielder is tasked with nullifying the Alexander-Arnold threat, subsequently leaving Wilfred Zaha as an out ball. His pace is electric and his goalscoring record at this level is excellent.

For the past few seasons, he has always been rumoured to be strongly linked with other clubs, but at the age of 28 now, the likelihood is that he commits his future to Palace and really establishes himself as one of their greats.

Patrick Vieira is a man who has played in a copious amount of big games in his playing days, so having his calming influence inflicted onto his players will be vital for the way the visitors approach the game.

It is easy for teams to come to Anfield and crawl into their shells, but the Eagles strike me as a club that thrive on being the underdogs. They know they will not come and dominate proceedings, but likewise they have the collective confidence and ability to come and have spells in the game where they unnerve the Anfield faithful. Being the first game back in one of the league’s best stadiums, the crowd will be up for it and players of both sides need to respond.

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