Benteke highly motivated for Liverpool game, insists Pardew

Benteke highly motivated for Liverpool game, insists Pardew

The striker suffered a bad time at Anfield last season and will hope to prove a point when the Reds visit Selhurst Park on Saturday

Sam Smith

Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew insists former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke will be raring to go when he faces his former club on Saturday.

The striker had a difficult spell at Anfield last season following his big-money move from Aston Villa. However, he has settled into life well at Selhurst Park.

The South Londoners' current record signing has bagged three goals in seven Premier League games and Pardew feels he could score when the Reds visit on Saturday evening.

“When you don’t think you have had the opportunity you think you deserve, it’s natural to be up for a game [against your former club],” said Pardew.

Palace secured the Belgium international for a sizeable £32 million in the summer after the striker spent just a year at Liverpool. Originally signed by Brendan Rodgers, Benteke made a decent start under the Northern Irishman but things started to turn sour when Rodgers was sacked and Jurgen Klopp took over.

The German preferred the more mobile Roberto Firmino up front and even the prolific Daniel Sturridge has struggled to find game time ahead of the Brazilian.

Benteke scored just nine goals in 29 top-flight appearances, although one of those came against Palace in rather controversial circumstances. The striker was felled by Damien Delaney in the sixth minute of injury time and brushed himself down to slot the penalty beyond Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Following the game, Pardew accused Benteke of diving but there are no signs of any grudges on either side.

“Christian is playing with a smile on his face,” remarked Pardew.

He continued, “Every player wants to play, especially great players like him.”

Benteke scores a controversial penalty against Palace in March | Photo: Getty images / Mike Hewitt
Benteke scores a controversial penalty against Palace in March | Photo: Getty images / Mike Hewitt

Palace will make the most of set pieces

Benteke’s aerial prowess has been evident since his summer move with all three of his goals being scored with his head. Pardew hinted at his intentions to use this advantage coming up against a Liverpool side renowned for being poor while defending set pieces.

“Set pieces are a weakness for them,” highlighted Pardew, who scored a famous header from a corner in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final in the same fixture.

Scott Dann’s return will also be a boost for Palace given his ability to score goals from dead-ball situations, although usual set piece taker Jason Puncheon is likely to miss the game through injury.