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|Match Result and Both Teams to Score||Odds|
This could be a tight encounter but the Reds should emerge victorious, even though a clean sheet might be beyond them.
Back Liverpool to win and both teams to score.
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It is not that long since Premier League fans were licking their lips at the prospect of a three-way title race going down to the wire. At the start of December, there was little to choose between Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea. After the midweek round of games at the beginning of last month, the three clubs were separated by only two points. Fast forward to the current day, and the championship race is all but over.
Neither Chelsea nor Liverpool has been able to match City’s relentlessness. The champions are on a 12-match winning run in the Premier League. They have not so much as dropped a single point since a 2-0 defeat by Crystal Palace on October 30. City are on course to reach 96 points this term, keeping with their two most impressive title triumphs of the Pep Guardiola era in 2017/18 (100 points) and 2018/19 (98 points). Liverpool, for all their brilliance, have been unable to keep pace.
Jurgen Klopp has been in soccer long enough to know that nothing is impossible until the math says it is. But he is also a realist, and it is difficult to see City squandering an 11-point advantage at this stage of the campaign. It is hard to pin too much blame on Liverpool for falling this far behind, although it is worth noting that they are picking up points at a rate that would see them finish with 81 – a higher tally than only five of the previous 29 Premier League champions.
Liverpool eased to a 3-0 victory over Brentford last weekend, but that was their first win in four Premier League games. The Reds need to go on a winning run of their own if they are to have any chance of overhauling City, but Sunday’s trip to Selhurst Park looks like a potential banana skin if Liverpool take their eye off the ball.
At this stage of the 2020/21 campaign, Crystal Palace were 13th in the Premier League with 26 points to their name. The Eagles are 11th in the standings going into the weekend, having amassed 24 points. That suggests Patrick Vieria’s Palace are roughly at the same level the team was under Roy Hodgson – and in some ways, that is correct. But the mood at Selhurst Park is much more positive than it was 12 months ago.
Vieira has only been in the job since the summer, but he has already installed a more entertaining, attack-minded style of play. Palace now look to get on the front foot whenever possible, and there is a desire to get more flair players into the team. The soccer was not always dull during Hodgson’s four-year tenure, but by the end Palace fans were desperate for more excitement. Vieira has given them that without jeopardizing their place in the top flight.
There is still room for improvement. Palace have won only five league games all season; only the bottom four of Watford, Norwich City, Newcastle United, and Burnley have tasted victory less often. But barring an incredible collapse, Palace look set to maintain their Premier League status while also lowering the squad’s average age and introducing a more progressive on-field style. That is a success.
Both clubs have lost players to the Africa Cup of Nations this month. Palace are without Jordan Ayew, Chiekhou Kouyate. and their long-time talisman, Wilfried Zaha. They will argue they have been affected by the tournament as much as Liverpool, who are missing Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah.
Even so, it is hard not to view the absence of Mane and Salah as something of a leveler. The latter is arguably the best player in the world right now (although Robert Lewandowski would have something to say about that), while Mane has consistently been a top performer for Liverpool under Klopp. Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will start on Sunday and both are excellent players too, but Liverpool will be below their best sans Salah in particular.
The loss of Zaha is not quite as much of a blow for Palace. He has been inconsistent this season and Michael Olise and Ebere Eze should provide enough creativity in his absence. Alongside that duo, Conor Gallagher’s boundless energy could disrupt Liverpool’s build-up, and his late runs into the box will pose a threat to their backline.
Liverpool have won each of their last nine meetings with Palace, and six of their last six visits to Selhurst Park. They should find a way to get the job done on Sunday, but the home team will back themselves to find the net. Back an away win and both teams to score.
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|Crystal Palace vs Liverpool Information|
|Teams||Crystal Palace vs Liverpool|
|Location||Selhurst Park, London, England|
|Time||Sunday, 23 January 2022, 9.00 AM EST|
|How to watch||Peacock Premium|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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