Liverpool V Crystal Palace Preview : Can Palace defend the same without Mamadou Sakho?
Event Venue: Anfield, Kick off: 16:00. Sky Sports.See Stats
Liverpool and Crystal Palace will collide on Sunday with the Reds looking to cement their place in the top four of the Premier League with the finish line in sight. For Sam Allardyce's Palace side, they have given themselves a terrific chance of staying by moving seven points clear of the drop zone. However, now is not the time to rest on their laurels and they face a side in Liverpool who have everything to play for as well.
Sam Allardyce made a few moves in January. He splashed the cash on Patrick Van Aanholt at left back, Jeffrey Schlupp was brought in for a big fee to also sure-up the left-hand side and Luka Milivojevic arrived at the club from Olympiakos. However, none of those moves have been as big of a difference maker as Mamadou Sakho's from Liverpool on loan. The French international has been a colossal presence in the Eagles backline and while it's no surprise that has led to three clean sheets in their last six games, it is somewhat surprising that they beat both Chelsea and Arsenal in that time. With Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke and Jason Puncheon, Palace have always had the attacking, creative talent to survive, but conceding goals, particularly from set pieces, was a major problem for the club before Big Sam arrived. Now the former England boss - albeit very briefly - has sorted out those issues, the Eagles are soaring once again.
The progress for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp has been seriously fast at times and then, equally, frustratingly slow. The team now seems to have found their true identity; it's a blend of high pressure and intensity with composed football with incisive build-up play. The thing is, they typically need their best players on the park to make it work and Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are definitely chief components to that strategy. They still lack a true centre-forward that will score goals the way Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane or Sergio Aguero does, for example, and that could be the missing piece to the jigsaw. Daniel Sturridge appears on borrowed time while Divock Origi, while impressive, is not prolific. Liverpool have won four of their last six including the last two in a row and are in a good position to finish in the top four and regain their place amongst Europe's elite. However, Manchester United's win over Chelsea has put the pressure on them and they now know they need to keep winning.
Without Sakho, I don't think Palace are half as solid or imposing in defence. Because if this, and the fact Liverpool can see Champions League in the near distance, the Reds will pick up a home win here.
- Liverpool beat Palace 4-2 away earlier this season
- The Reds famously chucked away the league with a 3-3 draw at Selhurst Park in 2014
- Liverpool are third in the Premier League while Palace are 15th
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