Liverpool v Crystal Palace – Gerrard’s return to Kop

The last time Palace played at Anfield was Steven Gerrard’s farewell game – a miserable 3-1 defeat for Reds fans that was compounded by the 6-1 humiliation at Stoke just eight days later.

Five months later and Gerrard may well be amongst the fans to witness a significantly brighter mood on Merseyside following the arrival of new boss Jurgen Klopp.

The German has quickly worked his magic on the team assembled by former boss Brendan Rodgers, and present a far different challenge to the team bullied into submission by Palace in May.

Klopp remains unbeaten after six games (W3, D3) and Gerrard, having finished his first season playing for Galaxy in the MLS, will be willing the new boss to follow up Thursday’s 0-1 win at Rubin in the Europa League by securing three points at Anfield.

Key men back for Klopp

Liverpool’s key men Philippe Coutinho, Lucas and Martin Skrtel are all expected back in the first 11 following their mid-week rest but captain Jordan Henderson is still ruled out with a foot injury.

The skipper, who has yet to play for Klopp, is likely to remain on the sidelines until December.

Palace boss Alan Pardew is waiting on a fitness test for defender Pape Souare and Dwight Gayle, with the game possibly too soon for Conor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh. Pardew will be without Lee Chung-yong and will want his available players to be fully focused on the challenge if they are to exploit a perceived advantage.

“Liverpool had a long trip to Russia on Thursday,” said Pardew. “We need to put them under pressure on Sunday.

‘Teams with tails up’

Acknowledging his side’s recent woeful form – they have not won since October 3 when they beat West Brom 2-0 – Pardew tried to explain: “We’ve come up against everyone who is in form – Liverpool, Manchester United, Leicester. We’re in that spell of facing teams with their tails up.”

“There’s a high press from Liverpool under Klopp. We have to be aware of the threat and try to capitalise on what they’re not good enough.”

All of which points to Palace counter attacking and hoping to exploit Liverpool’s aerial frailties, especially when defending corners and free kicks.

They may well need the assistance of the referee as well, given three of their last four goals have all come from the penalty spot – all three converted by Yohan Cabaye.

Top tipsters fancy Benteke

Even with the changes made by Klopp, Liverpool still look likely to concede and have managed just one clean sheet in their last eight games, that being in the 0-0 draw at Tottenham.

At the other end, Christian Benteke has impressed in the short periods he has played from the substitute’s bench, scoring three in his last four EPL games – all of them in the last 15 minutes.

Online bettors and the best football tipsters may fancy the big Belgian doing the same again on Sunday.

By: Joe Cahal

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