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Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (Premier League) - 20:00, Monday 15th August

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Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

20:00, Monday 15th August
Anfield, Liverpool
Premier League
Referee: Paul Tierney

The Anfield turnstiles open for competitive football again on Monday evening, welcoming supporters for the first time since the emotional rollercoaster of Liverpool’s final-day meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Reds never quite managed to occupy top spot during the course of that day, with Jurgen Klopp’s side turning deficit into a 3-1 victory only after Man City had turned around a 2-0 deficit to beat Aston Villa 3-2 – by full-time, and the season’s curtain call, the table reset itself to its morning state: Pep Guardiola’s side claiming the title by a single point, with goal difference in hand. There’s nothing quite like Anfield under the floodlights, and there’s nothing quite like the prospect of injecting some momentum into yet another season when Liverpool will be looking to compete on all fronts.

Crystal Palace are Anfield’s visitors on Monday evening, with Patrick Vieira bringing his side north off the back of a 2-0 opening night defeat to Arsenal – the club with whom he gained legendary status during his successful time with the club (partly as captain) between 1996 & 2005. Palace are now a long-established Premier League club – having been promoted in 2013, they're enjoying their longest top-flight stay by some distance and their tenure is only bettered by the six ever-presents, Man City (2002), and Southampton & West Ham (2012). In their nine seasons ‘back’, they’ve achieved one top-half finish (2014-15) and otherwise finished in the top 15 on every occasion. They’re reasonably good value for this apparent stability too: only either side of the short-lived spell under Frank de Boer (around which they played & lost 7, failed to score, and conceded 17) in 2017 and ahead of the 2021-22 season (when the squad appeared unstable as they welcomed Vieira as their new but notably inexperienced manager) have genuine questions been asked about the Eagles’ survival.

Though not unwarranted, the pre-season concern last time out proved unnecessary – despite a slow start to the campaign, Vieira’s Palace went two months unbeaten in the league during the autumn and would later take six wins and four draws from the final third of the campaign. A 12th place finish represented a respectable start to the Senegal-born Frenchman’s time at the club, but some of the underlying statistics are indicative of further progress: Palace found the net relatively well (50 goals being just 1 short of their recent best) and put in mean defensive performance (46 being their recent best), achieving a goal difference of +4 (8 better than their previous best) and falling just 1 short of their recent 49-point record. Not always the most exciting of clubs from an outside perspective, it does however seem as though Palace’s raucous home support is warranted as they seem to progress well under Vieira.

The recent meetings between the sides that come most easily to mind for Liverpool supporters are of course the penultimate game of the 2013-14 season, in which the Reds aimed high but fell flat during their title-challenging campaign, and Steven Gerrard’s final Anfield appearance for Liverpool, a 3-1 defeat – also on the penultimate day – a year later. More positively for the home support, Klopp’s side achieved a 3-0 Anfield victory in the 5th game of last season before claiming a 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park in January – an international break followed, prior to an almost relentless run to the end of a season in which Liverpool challenged on all fronts. Last season’s meetings are representative of recent form, with the Reds having won all ten of the league meetings during the last five seasons.

Crystal Palace had something of a mixed pre-season, with Covid-19 vaccination status meaning their senior squad was split between a tour of Singapore & Australia (yielding 2-0 and 3-1 draws to Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively, and a 1-1 draw with Leeds) and behind-closed-doors fixtures at their training ground. Squad re-united, the Eagles closed out pre-season with a 4-2 victory over Ligue 1 mid-table counterparts Montpellier. Former Reds Martin Kelly and Christian Benteke both left Palace during the summer, following frustrating to mixed-at-best periods at the club, whilst Conor Gallagher’s return from loan to Chelsea represents their most impactful departure. New arrivals seem equally low key, with Cheick Doucoure – a young Malian midfielder signed from Lens – the highest profile signing to date and putting in a decent first shift on Friday evening against the Gunners. No doubt feeling much like a new signing for many Palace supporters, if you’ll excuse the cliché, is Eberechi Eze – the attacking midfielder impressed during 2020-21 but was injured for much of last season and will be key figure as Vieira’s project looks to gain momentum into 2022-23.

With Liverpool and Palace having taken just a point between them during the opening weekend, thanks to Klopp’s side’s double-comeback away to Fulham, both will be keen to get their season kick-started. Palace did take three consecutive league victories at Anfield from 2014-15 to 2016-17, but the pressure will be off as they know that this ultimately isn’t their fight. Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, will be keen to ensure that it doesn’t become his side’s fight in the short-term – whilst individual incidents can be debated, his team took a long time to get going against Fulham, who’s energetic and combative approach on Saturday will give others hopes of taking points off the Reds this season.

disgraced cake:
Has there ever been a week in the history of this club where we weren't refereed by a man from the Salford and/or Greater Manchester area?

Tierney still getting games at Anfield is laughable.

Elliott deserves to start this one, liked his cameo against Fulham and looks sharp again. Let’s unleash Darwin from the start too

Guessing we'll get a stonewall penalty turned down and be told "not all contact is a penalty" after hearing the opposite v Fulham. These can be a pain in the arse to play but hopefully we beat them and they take points off City again. I quite like these and what their fans stand up for etc.

Darwin and Harvey have to start. Naby in for Hendo too if he's fit.

Thanks jackh.  I think you're bantering us though with the photo you chose of our brittle midfielders  ;D

We were all a bit over-confident against Fulham but I'll not learn my lesson - I think we'll win 3-0.  Palace had a farce of a pre-season and we'll control the game much, much better than at the weekend.

The team mostly picks itself based on who is available but it will be interesting if Firmino starts again or if Nunez gets the nod.  For me Nunez looks a bit chaotic in our system still but it's hard to argue with the impact he'd had in his two sub appearances.

Tierney will hopefully keep it low key after his ridiculous performance in the Man U vs. Brighton game.


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