BOTH Liverpool and Crystal Palace began their Premier League campaigns in underwhelming fashion.
Jurgen Klopp’s men conceded three times away to Watford on their way to a disappointing draw, while Frank de Boer’s side lost 3-0 at home to newly promoted Huddersfield Town.
As a result, when the two sides meet each other in their second match the league season, there is a lot at stake.
For Liverpool, failure to win would be seen as a serious early blow not only to their title credentials, but to their prospects of finishing in the top four for a second consecutive year.
Meanwhile, another defeat for Crystal Palace would leave them stranded towards the bottom of the table.
⚽IAN WRIGHT: Liverpool v Crystal Palace betting preview⚽
By Ian Wright
SHAMBOLIC defending from both sides last weeks has me thinking Anfield will be seeing goals galore this weekend.
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I think home advantage makes this and easy pick, with Liverpool the obvious winners for me.
However, Christian Benteke loves scoring against Liverpool, with seven in his eight outings to date, so I’ll be backing the big Belgian to net at anytime (5/2) in a 3-1 home win (10/1).
ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP: Christian Benteke to score anytime, 5/2
The hosts enter on the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 away win over Hoffenheim in Champions League qualifying on Tuesday night, while the visitors will have had a full week to prepare without distraction.
Here our friends at Football Whispers provide the ultimate preview for this Saturday’s game.
Mohamed Salah returned to the Premier League in the summer, with Liverpool breaking their transfer record to sign the Egyptian winger. Having struggled at Chelsea, he now appears set to play a vital role in Klopp’s team.
His pace is a serious threat to any defence, and Crystal Palace new signing Jairo Riedewald will likely be tasked with keeping a close eye on the frontman.
The Dutch defender played on the left of a back three in Palace’s opening game defeat to Huddersfield. Assuming he takes up this position again on Saturday, he could be in for a tough afternoon.
Salah will look to target the area between Riedewald and left wing-back Patrick van Aanholt, using his searing speed and athleticism to exploit space and create scoring chances for himself and his team-mates.
If he wins out, expect Liverpool to score goals and set themselves up for a first win of the 2017/18 Premier League season.
POTENTIAL MATCH WINNERS
While Crystal Palace may be the underdogs in this particular clash, they do have a number of possible match winners to call upon. Christian Benteke is one of them.
The Belgian centre-forward hit an impressive 15 goals in 36 league outings last term and will be hoping to improve upon that tally this season. Up against his old team, he will be motivated to open his account for the campaign.
His aerial ability could threaten Liverpool, who have been shambolic from set pieces thus far this term. And he will be supported by Wilfried Zaha, whose pace could help take advantage of the space left by Alberto Moreno.
Klopp will be without Philippe Coutinho – the Brazilian, who has been linked to Barcelona of late, is out with a back problem. However, in Sadio Mane he has an excellent creative influence to rely on.
The Senegalese forward was superb against Hoffenheim and his combination of intelligent movement, passing and pace could help to disorganise a newly formed Palace back three.
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Another Liverpool player to impress in midweek was Trent Alexander-Arnold, who scored against the German side with an accurate free kick.
The 18-year-old right-back shows good passing and crossing, which will be pivotal when trying to open up a packed back line.
Klopp has favoured a 4-3-3 since being appointed Liverpool boss and he will continue with this formation on Saturday. His side will likely dominate possession, but the challenge will be turning that dominance into goals.
The forward runs of Georginio Wijnaldum could come in handy in this match. If the Dutchman can break beyond Palace’s two central midfielders, he could cause problems in the final third.
De Boer could continue with the 3-4-2-1 system he used last weekend, with Benteke leading the line on his own.
His back three of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Scott Dann and Riedewald will have to be organised in order to counter the threat of the Liverpool attacking trio, while the pace and creativity of Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be vital to launching quick counter-attacks.
Palace have faced top-six opposition in both of their last Premier League away days, and failed to score a single goal in those matches.
In May they lost 5-0 to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
They will be hoping for a significant improvement against Liverpool, who have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.