Anfield will play host to a Liverpool team depleted in defence and a Crystal Palace side lacking a key man themselves, in the on-loan Mamadou Sakho, who is ineligible against his parent club, this Sunday.
Lucas, Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are all doubtful for Liverpool having missed training today, meaning Joe Gomez is likely to have to come in at the back. The defender is a more than capable back-up in terms of ability, but has been injured for many months and is still not back to 100% fitness despite multiple outings for the under-23’s.
In addition, Lucas’s absence means that Liverpool are light in midfield too – Jordan Henderson might not return at all this campaign and Adam Lallana misses out this weekend despite returning to the training pitch yesterday – so James Milner might have to move into midfield, with Trent Alexander-Arnold playing full-back. The England under-19 international could also play in midfield himself if required.
Despite missing Sakho, Palace will be a difficult team to face. They still have plenty to play for as they are not safe from relegation, and recently went to Stamford Bridge and won against the league leaders. Arsenal also went down 3-0 to this weekend’s visitors, but that was at Selhurst Park.
Simon Mignolet, instrumental in the last couple of games, making vital saves at important times in both matches, was given a vote of confidence by Klopp in his press conference, with the German putting any speculation over a move for Joe Hart to bed.
When asked if there was any interest in the England goalkeeper, the response was simple: “Not at the moment and not in the future”. Do not bet against rumours persisting, however.
Mamadou Sakho inevitably came up as a topic of interest as well.
“Mama is a very good defender. He is a strong boy with good tackles and blocks. Having him not involved is not the best news for Crystal Palace,” said Klopp. Despite the compliments, there is no way back for the Frenchman at Anfield, with Liverpool just willing to sell to the highest bidder come the summer. They hope to raise up to £30 million for the centre-back.
Former Red Christian Benteke, who Liverpool sold last summer, also featured. Jurgen Klopp will be more than aware of the danger he poses having worked with him. He also tried to sign him when he was in charge of Borussia Dortmund.
“When balls are in the air, he is the main threat. He has confidence and is on a good run,” he said. The Belgian has fourteen goals for Palace this season, and it would be no surprise for him to get a goal at the weekend as he tries to prove a point to his former employers.
There was also an update on forgotten man Danny Ings, who has started running again as part of his rehab. He is “not close but coming back” – the forward hopes to be ready early into next season, when he will be keen to make an impact having been so cruelly impacted by injury since his arrival.
With the FA Cup semi-finals taking place this weekend, none of Arsenal, Manchester City or Tottenham play in the Premier League, whilst Manchester United face a tricky trip to Burnley off the back of a Europa League quarter-final.
This game, then, provides a chance for Liverpool to get more points on the board and move further clear of fifth place, piling the pressure on the teams around them.
Just like last week, a point would be no disaster, but all three would be more than welcome.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 16:30 GMT and is live on Sky Sports.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Andre Marriner – Marriner has issued seven red cards in his 33 matches this season so far in all competitions, as well as producing 130 yellows.
He last refereed Liverpool in their 2-0 win over Leeds in the EFL Cup in November, and saw them beat Hull City 5-1 prior to that. He was also in charge of the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park, which Liverpool won 4-2 thanks to goals from Emre Can, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino.
Mariner officiated Palace’s 4-0 home loss to Sunderland and a 2-0 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates on New Year’s Day.
Crystal Palace have won both of their previous two games at Anfield; no team since Chelsea in October 2005 has managed to win three in a row.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Gomez, Clyne; Can, Milner, Wijnaldum; Firmino, Origi, Coutinho
Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Kelly, Delaney, Schlupp; Milivojevic, Cabaye; Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha; Benteke
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