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Crystal Palace (h) preview - The Red Debate
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Sunday April 23rd 2017. I remember it clear as daylight. Chris and I were sat in the Kop stand, as hungover as we’ve both ever been (having been on a stag do the night before & getting about an hour’s sleep in an Air BnB with all our mates on the Scotty Road). Dire game of football. We lost 2-1 that day. Coutinho had put us 1-0 up with a free-kick & bloody Christian Benteke got a brace. He did that awful stomping celebration to top it off. That was the last time we lost at Anfield in the league. As I say, I remember it well, but on football terms that’s a really long time to stay unbeaten. Going into this home fixture with Palace, things look a far sight brighter (even despite our recent injury news).

Given that Gini’s a doubt and Trent’s out for ~4 weeks I’d imagine we’ll see something like this:

Predicted starting 11

Matip being back in time is good news & I can see Fabinho being restored in his midfield position.

I have a feeling Klopp will go with Keita from the start in one of the wide forward positions. There are a number of reasons I can see this happening, but namely the defensive/off the ball work our wide forwards are likely to be required to do. I can see Klopp preferring Keita to Shaqiri here, with Shaqiri being his option off the bench.

It’s crunch time for Keita now. He looked like he’d played himself in after Burnley. We could do with a Keita brimming with confidence; the Keita we saw at Selhurst Park. The Keita who had Andros Townsend’s pants down with a Cruyff turn in his own defensive third.

Keita vs Palace (a). You remember that turn..

Palace have their own injury concerns. It looks like 39 year old Julian Speroni, their third choice keeper, is due to start following knocks for Guaiti and Wayne Hennessey. They’ve also got concerns over Jordan Ayew’s fitness and Benteke himself is just returning from injury.

I reckon they’ll line up as they did in their last outing, at home to Watford, but Benteke for Ayew (14) & Speroni for Guaiti (31). CBs that day were Sakho (12) and Tomkins (15) with Kouyate (8), Milivojevic (4) and McArthur (18) in midfield :

Palace’s lineup (avg positions) vs Watford ( h) (12.1.19)

As you can see from the above average positions, they used a system not dissimilar to ours last season whereby Zaha (11) and Townsend (10) started as wide forwards, with Ayew (14) a little withdrawn to give them space in behind (in theory).

Look also at how high Wan-Bissaka (29) and Van Aanholt (3) are.

Palace’s strengths are in wide areas. Hodgson has, as we remember, routinely deployed his ‘wide men’ in a more traditional manner. Look at Zaha’s and Townsend’s heat maps from that last fixture. Unlike our 4-3-3 of last season, with Mane and Salah’s main movements being centrally, Zaha and Townsend stayed largely wide.

Zaha’s heatmap from Palace vs Watford (12.1.19)
Townsend’s heatmap from Palace vs Watford (12.1.19)

Nullifying the threat of their wide forwards and fullbacks on Saturday could be key, particularly as Benteke will probably start. I see us doing that by pinning them back, with Robertson and Milner high and Keita and Mane moving between their fullbacks and centre backs. I expect the first half to play out with high emphasis on possession and ball rotation & for us to go for them in the second half. It’s becoming almost characteristic of this Jurgen Klopp side.

How do you all see this going?