Liverpool vs Crystal Palace preview: Defensive frailties and poor opening day results as both side seek victory

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace preview: Defensive frailties and poor opening day results as both side seek victory

The Reds and the Eagles were the architects of their own respective downfalls in their first Premier league games

sam-smith
Sam Smith

Liverpool and Crystal Palace will both hope to recover from disappointing opening day results when they face each other at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds were held to a point at Watford during Saturday’s early kick-off, courtesy of Miguel Britos’ stoppage time equaliser. Later that day, the Eagles were shocked by newly promoted Huddersfield Town as the Terriers, inspired by summer signing Steve Mounie, won by three goals to nil.

Palace have won their last three games at Liverpool and have taken 17 points from their last eight trips to Merseyside in the Premier League - losing just once since promotion in 2013.

Defensive displays cost sides to drop points on opening day

Both sides were heavily criticised for their defensive displays as they dropped points in their respective first games. Liverpool fell behind against Watford when Stefano Okaka was allowed to head home unmarked from a corner. Having then equalised through Sadio Mané, Jürgen Klopp’s side fell behind once more when they comically failed to clear a loose ball and Abdoulaye Doucouré stroked home from six yards.

Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah showed flashes of why they could be the most potent front three in the division this season. Each of them scored at Vicarage Road but, much like last season, it was the back four and goalkeeper that let them down. Once more, the Reds failed to clear their lines at a corner, Simon Mignolet struggled to keep out the initial effort and Britos stabbed the ball over the goal-line from merely a yard out.

Palace were hardly much better in their defensive third against Huddersfield. New manager Frank de Boer opted to use the 3-4-3 formation that had been deployed in pre-season, but a strange team selection led to a few defensive frailties.

Right wing-back Joel Ward prodded into his own net after the South Londoners had failed to defend a corner of their own, before the former Portsmouth man allowed Aaron Mooy to cross for Mounie who leapt above Jaïro Riedewald to nod the ball home. Collin Quaner was then allowed to control Jonas Lössl’s goal-kick before setting up Mounie for the Benin striker’s second.

Team news: Both sides without key men

Liverpool will be buoyed by the return of Daniel Sturridge, although it is unlikely that the England forward will start at Anfield. Former Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne remains absent which will allow Tuesday’s Champions League hero Trent Alexander-Arnold to continue at right-back. Midfielder Adam Lallana and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan are long-term absentees, while Phillippe Coutinho misses the game with a back injury and an increasingly likely transfer to Barcelona on the horizon. Liverpool rejected an astonishing £118 million offer for the Brazilian from the La Liga side today.

Star man Wilfried Zaha is likely to miss the next month after suffering a knee injury against the Terriers. Andros Townsend is expected to take the Ivory Coast international’s place after being dropped last weekend. Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur featured for the under-23 side in midweek and could be in line for a place in the matchday squad. Pape Souaré is nearing a return to full fitness a year on from his car accident and de Boer said he will play for the development squad within the next two weeks. Connor Wickham remains the Eagles’ only long-term absentee. 

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