Whisper it so that the paranoid androids within our fan base don’t get upset, but Liverpool genuinely do look like a good team. In recent weeks we’ve faced Manchester United & José Moutinho’s low block, West Brom and Tony Pulis’ low block and Spurs in the cup, winning two and drawing one. Admittedly the draw with United looks worse given Chelsea’s result against them last weekend, but they clearly put their all into their ‘cup final’, so we shouldn’t be too hard on the lads.
This weekend sees a trip to London on the agenda and a meeting with an ex-player. This has been a season of defying conventions for the Reds, but stopping a former striker of ours from scoring against us feels like going one step too far. I could do with my betting instructions getting back on track too, having struggled over the last couple of weeks thanks to things out of my control. My bet for the Spurs match was for Ings to score the last goal and given he went one-on-one with Vorm right at the game’s death I feel a little hard done to. Can I sort of predictions out for our game against the Eagles?
The Liverpool starting XI virtually picks itself nowadays, such is the form that we’re in. As long as the system keeps working then it would be folly to mix it up unless injury forces the manager’s hand. Of course Daniel Sturridge may not agree with that having netted twice against Spurs in midweek, but the reality is that he requires a change of system to be at his best rather than fitting seamlessly into the current one. For that reason I’m fairly confident that there will be no major surprises tomorrow evening, providing everyone is fit.
During his pre-match press conference Jürgen Klopp revealed that James Milner has been sick this week. He took part in a running session on Thursday and some training sessions on Friday, but the German and his staff will have to assess him ahead of the game on Saturday. It’s not something that many people like to admit, myself included, but Alberto Moreno played very well against Tottenham in the EFL Cup and was some people’s Man of the Match. If he had to come back into the team, therefore, it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.
The only other major question that Klopp is confronted with is who to play in midfield. Both Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum have recovered from their respective injuries, with Can having played in the least two league games and Wijnaldum lasting the 90 in the cup on Tuesday. There’s no room in the team for both but as they’re both able to play it will be a big call for the manager to make. If I had to guess at the team that will line up at Selhurst Park then I’d go for: Karius – Clyne – Matip – Lovren – Miner – Henderson – Can – Lallana – Mané – Coutinho – Firmino.
The two biggest question makes over Alan Pardew’s team come in the form of Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon. The defender – a Liverpool supporter if I remember correctly – has been out for a while with a hamstring injury. He has returned to training and could well return to the starting line-up. He is very much a threat from set-pieces and the Reds will be hoping that this game might just come a little too early for him.
As for Puncheon, he has been suffering from a calf injury and didn’t make the starting XI for Palace’s game against Leicester last weekend. He has been fighting to get fit in time for this game and could yet be declared ok to lead the support of Christian Benteke from an attacking midfield position, but it could be a toss of a coin for the midfielder. Other than that the Palace team picks itself almost as much as the Liverpool one does, with the Eagles having lost Yannick Bolasie to Everton in the summer, meaning that at least one of the players who normally torments us will be absent.
As I hinted at in the introduction, Liverpool’s form is pretty impressive at the moment. We have now played twelve games in all competitions this season, losing one, drawing two and winning nine. Those victories haven’t been easy, either. They’ve come against Arsenal and Chelsea away from home and versus the defending Premier League champions Leicester City at Anfield, plus the draws have been against Manchester United and Tottenham. Though our fans are loathed to admit it because of results like Burnley away, we’re arguably the in-form team in Europe right now.
For Palace this season has been a little more mixed. They sit resolutely in the middle of the table with eleven points, nine off the bottom and nine off the top. They haven’t kept a clean sheet since the thirteenth of April (though that was against our Merseyside neighbours) and they’ve also lost their last two games. They’ve only lost four games in total in the league, but they’ve only won three and have drawn the other two. If Liverpool are the definition of consistency then Palace are what you’d refer to as ‘a mixed bag’. The big question for this weekend is which Palace we can expect to face.
Having endured a difficult couple of weeks in the better market I’m now determined to ensure that I get myself back on track. Here are some of the best bets that I think you’ll want to consider for Liverpool’s trip to Selhurst Park this weekend:
Whichever way you look at it this feels like a match that is going to be full of goals. Having not kept a clean sheet since April you can’t suddenly see Palace’s defence becoming an immovable rock of brilliance. Liverpool’s defence has been pretty excellent in open play, but from set-pieces we’ve been an absolute disaster and the doesn’t look changing any time soon. Palace love conceding goals and the Reds love scoring them, whilst our defence doesn’t know how to deal with crosses and the Eagles love throwing them into the box. I just don’t see this being a low scoring game.
It is 12/5 for Liverpool To Win or 7/1 for Palace To Win and Both Teams To Score. Whichever way you think the result is going to go they’re both genuinely good prices. If you think this is the game when our bubble will finally burst then 7/1 is crazy money. It’s worth bearing in mind that our win at Selhurst Park last season was our first away to Palace in the league since 1997. Liverpool To Win and Over 4.5 Goals is 6/1, another bet I think is just too good to turn down. The Reds are also 8/5 To Score In Both Halves, something that I wouldn’t bet against if I’m being honest.
Who Will Get The Goals
Like it or not there’s one name that will dominate the build-up to the game and that’s Christian Benteke. It was the right decision for us to sell the Belgian regardless of what happens during the match, but don’t be surprised if he’s the one that gets on the scoresheet for Pardew’s side. He scored four goals in five appearances against us for Aston Villa and has been unlucky not to register in his last two outings. He hit the post against both West Ham and Leicester, having a shot cleared off the line by the Foxes’ defence and missing a penalty against the London side.
The Belgian is 2/1 To Score Anytime and I think it would be stupid not to place that bet. The one thing we learned during his time on Merseyside is that when he’s ‘on song’ there’s almost no stopping him. He’s the sort of striker that gets called ‘unplayable’ when it’s his day and he will have a point to prove against Jürgen Klopp this weekend. If you fancy him to score but want longer odds then Benteke as First Goalscorer is 6/1. The only times the Reds have struggled in recent times is when the opposition has scored early. With the crowd behind them and the desire of our former player to prove he’s a quality striker I think the 9/1 available for Palace To Score In The First Ten Minutes is also very interesting.
If there are going to be loads of goals, of course, then Liverpool will surely get on the scoresheet too. It was Leicester’s pace that caused the Eagles problems in their match last weekend so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sadio Mané terrorise them this time around. Mané is 7/4 To Score First at Selhurst Park and though the odds aren’t great you’d have to fancy him to be one of our players to cause the most problems. Finally, I don’t think Sturridge will start so the 4/1 available for him to Score The Last Goal could be worth a cheeky fiver.
Football loves a narrative and I really can’t see any way that Christian Benteke avoids being that narrative this weekend. For that reason I’m sticking a tenner on Benteke As Anytime Goalscorer at 2/1. I’m also going to lump on Both Teams To Score with a Liverpool Win @ 12/5. Whatever you decide to go for, good hunting!