MX23RW : Sunday, January 26 06:11:54| >> :600:5423011:5423011:
Nov 23, 2019 at 3pm UK at ​Selhurst Park
Attendance: 25,486
Crystal Palace
Zaha (82')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Mane (49'), Firmino (85')

Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League contest between Crystal Palace and runaway leaders Liverpool, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Liverpool arrive back from the final international break of the calendar year in the enviable position of sitting eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table heading into Saturday's clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Jurgen Klopp's side have dropped just two points from the 36 on offer so far this season and will be looking to continue that remarkable form against a Palace side winless in four games.

Match preview

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts on November 10, 2019© Reuters

After a summer which saw a host of key players - including all of their front three - take part in major international tournaments and a pre-season which was criticised for being sluggish, even the most optimistic Liverpool fan could not have expected them to be in such a position at this stage of the 2019-20 campaign.

Klopp himself admitted that the start his side have made was considered almost impossible, with a ruthless 3-1 triumph over champions Manchester City before the international break making it 11 wins and one draw from their opening 12 league outings.

No team in the history of English top-flight football has ever made a better start, while only Manchester United in 1992-93 have enjoyed a bigger lead at this stage of a Premier League season than the eight-point margin Liverpool currently command.

Man City, whom many will still regard as Liverpool's main challengers, sit nine points adrift having already lost three times in 12 games this season; the Reds have lost just three times in their last 64 Premier League outings.

It is difficult to see Klopp's side surrendering such a lead given their form over the past year-and-a-half, then, and their record so far this term gets even more impressive with a little more digging.

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's second on November 10, 2019© Reuters

The Reds have already faced all five of their fellow 'big six' members in addition to Leicester City, whereas Man City have only faced Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea have three such fixtures to play before the midway point of the season and Leicester must still face Man City.

Liverpool do not play another one of those teams until Leicester on Boxing Day, and next come up against a member of the 'big six' on January 11, so it is entirely conceivable that their winning run will extend until at least Christmas - by which point it would be almost a year since they tasted defeat in the top flight.

Victory on Saturday could be particularly valuable considering Man City and Chelsea face each other at Stamford Bridge later in the day on Saturday, meaning that at least one of the three teams in the chasing pack will drop more points.

Of course, they must also be wary of underestimating their opponents in the meantime - Palace memorably beat Man City at the Etihad last season, while there is also a Merseyside derby and the task of juggling the EFL Cup, Club World Cup and Premier League in December.

An important Champions League tie with Napoli - the only team to beat them in any competition this season - looms four days after their trip to Selhurst Park this weekend, which may also come into Klopp's thinking with injury doubts over key men Mohamed Salah and Andrew Robertson.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson on September 28, 2019© Reuters

Palace will certainly be hoping that Liverpool's focus is slightly distracted, with Roy Hodgson welcoming his former club to Selhurst Park having now slipped into the bottom half of the table.

In fairness to the Eagles, that slump in form has come during a torrid run of fixtures which has seen them face Man City, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and now Liverpool in succession.

It is perhaps no surprise that they have taken just one point from the last 12 on offer, then, but after this weekend things do begin to get easier - their following eight games all come against teams currently placed ninth or below, including all of the incumbent bottom three.

Anything they can get against Liverpool may therefore be regarded as a bonus, and Hodgson will know just how big an impact an unexpected result can have considering how tight the middle of the Premier League table is.

Jordan Ayew celebrates scoring for Crystal Palace on October 5, 2019© Reuters

The Eagles sit 12th heading into the weekend, but fifth-placed Sheffield United are only two points above them while 16th-placed West Ham United are only two points behind them - a group of 12 teams separated by only four points.

Palace will not be there simply to make up the numbers either, having already beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford this season - something Liverpool themselves could not manage.

However, Hodgson's side could lose three Premier League games in a row for the first time in more than a year, while their home form this term is a growing concern following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Man City and Leicester.

There is no shame in losing to two top sides, of course, but only four teams have picked up fewer points in front of their own fans this season, while no team have scored fewer than the four Palace have managed in six outings at Selhurst Park.

Considering Liverpool have the best away defensive record in the league, those troubles in front of goal could end up proving costly for a side that is reportedly eyeing up attacking reinforcements during the January transfer window.

Crystal Palace Premier League form: WWLDLL

Liverpool Premier League form: WWDWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Team News

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah reacts on November 5, 2019© Reuters

Liverpool are sweating over the fitness of both Salah and Robertson ahead of this match, with both players pulling out of international duty during the recent break due to ankle injuries.

The latest reports suggest that neither will be fit for the trip to London, although they did both take part in training on Thursday and will undergo late fitness tests to determine whether they will be available.

Joe Gomez was also back in training after picking up a knee injury during an eventful international break for him, while captain Jordan Henderson is expected to be fit after an illness.

There is further good news with Xherdan Shaqiri back in contention following a calf problem, but Joel Matip is set to miss out again due to a knee injury while Nathaniel Clyne remains a long-term absentee.

Palace could be missing a key player of their own with Wilfried Zaha nursing the foot injury he picked up in the defeat to Chelsea before the international break.

Joel Ward was forced off just before half time in that match due to a groin strain and, while the full extent of his injury is yet to be revealed, he is considered unlikely to be fit in time for Saturday's match, leaving Martin Kelly to fill in against his former club.

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Kelly, Tomkins, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Townsend, Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur, Zaha; Ayew

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Milner; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Origi

Head To Head

Once considered something of a bogey fixture for the Reds, Liverpool have won all of their last four meetings with Crystal Palace, including a thrilling 4-3 triumph in their most recent showdown at Anfield in January.

The Reds have also won on each of their last five trips to Selhurst Park stretching back to November 2014, although they memorably threw away a three-goal lead at the ground during their 2013-14 title chase, effectively ending their hopes of lifting the trophy.

The corresponding fixture last season ended 2-0 to Liverpool, with James Milner and Sadio Mane scoring at the end of each half.

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We say: Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool

Crystal Palace's home form has been unconvincing this season, whereas Liverpool just seem to keep on winning. A trip to Selhurst Park is never an easy match, and Liverpool's injury concerns make the task even tougher, but it is difficult to back against Klopp's side on current form. We are predicting Palace to fall to a third consecutive 2-0 home defeat.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Liverpool?

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Liverpool's Mohamed Salah reacts on November 5, 2019
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