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Crystal Palace v Liverpool preview

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Selhurst Park, Saturday Dec 9th. KO 12.30
Itís not a laugh playing two matches in four days, especially when the second one starts at lunchtime. The bloke in the bad suit from Amazon thought it was a joke, which is why Jurgen lost his cool in the pitch-side interview. Sure, Crystal Palace will be in the same boat having played at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday night, but thatís not really the point. The point is the insane lack of recuperation time, the unnecessary wear and tear on footballersí bodies and the increased possibility of serious injury. All because millions of people are apparently desperate to see a live game at lunch-time. Jurgen was speaking for the Palace players as well as ours.

We, of course, are now without Matip and may be without Mac Allister too. Add in Alisson, Robertson, Thiago and Jota and itís beginning to look like an injury crisis. Palace are without Doucoure who has snapped his achilles heel and the sensational Eze who isnít as badly injured but hopefully wonít be rushed back to face us. That leaves a big hole in midfield for the home team which Bournemouth seem to have walked through last night.

Can we do the same? We hope so. It helps that Endo is now finding his feet in English football and his ability to get the ball quickly to whichever pair plays ahead of him will be key. So long as the match remains 0-0 that will be a simple enough task but without spectacular reward. He wonít be pressed. None of our back line will. Palace are among the most negative sides in the division under Hodgson and even at home like to sit back behind a stockade. This will put the onus on Szobozslai and Gravenberch (the likely two) as well as Trent to break Palace lines in the last third.

Itís been 15 matches since we last lost to Palace - put to the sword at Anfield by that gentleman footballer Christian Benteke. That makes it the longest unbeaten run since we first played them between the wars. But the last two fixtures ended in drab draws. What we need, therefore, is a bit of 0-7 (or better still 9-0) to remind ourselves, and the rest of the league, that Liverpool are gearing up for a serious 2024. I look at our team - even with its injuries - and I look at theirs and think thereís no reason why we shouldnít blow them away. Up front Darwin continues to make life hell for defenders and heaven for goalkeepers but will almost certainly start on Saturday. Goals please. I wonder too whether Gakpo might crop up on the left to give Luis Diaz some respite. Danger players for them? Olise obviously. At least Tsimikas will be fresh to face that particular threat. Ayew should provide a tasty meal for Virg. The crucial thing will be to stop them scoring first. Against the Blades we actually achieved that. I expect the same again.

Allez Allez.

(The ref is Andy Madley, assistants are Harry Lennard and Nick Hopton. In the VAR booth of chaos is John Brooks and A Nun.)

Said this in the Palace thread, but their fans are starting to turn on the manager, their injuries are starting to pile up a bit, they're not used to playing 3 games in a week, and to top it all off, they're managed by Roy Hodgson.

Think the lunchtime kickoff does us a favour too, their fans are a noisy bunch and an evening kickoff would've been trickier.

On paper, this should be a comfortable win.

Cafe De Paris:
Come on the mighty red men (or green and white men for this one)

Buster Gonad:
All away games are tricky even against a shite Hodgson team. Jurgen is going to have to rotate the team a bit. We could see a starting midfield of Endo ,Harvey and Gravenberch/Jones I reckon.
Nunez will obviously start this one and it was good to see Mo not finishing the Sheffield match. Even he's not a machine. Gakpo or Diaz for the other spot. Tsimi back will give us better balance on the left.
 I hate rotation and the imbalance it often brings but it's essential with the volume of games. I expect another uncomfortable win...

Palace are struggling big time. We need to make sure this is a win, albeit it wont be easy.


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