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    Prediction: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

    Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score

    Best odds: 17/20

    Bookmaker: 888sport

    Thwarted on their return to Premier League action by city rivals Everton in a goalless Merseyside Derby, Liverpool welcome Crystal Palace to Anfield on Wednesday in what will be the 31st league game of the 2019/20 season for both teams.

    Liverpool

    Having gone a magnificent run in the English top flight from the start of the campaign right to the break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Liverpool are hopeful they will be able to wrap up their first league title since 1990 soon. Before Everton, only arch-rivals Manchester United managed to win a point against them at Old Trafford. Towards the break, relegation threatened Watford became the first side to go one better and actually beat the Champions League holders.

    Liverpool still sit top of the table convincingly, with a 20-point cushion between them and title defenders Manchester City, who thrashed Burnley 5-0 on Monday evening. They only need five points more for the crown to become officially theirs.

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    It’s still too early to talk about form, but the Merseysiders won’t be pleased, probably for the first time this season, that their record in the last six league matches reads four wins, one draw and one defeat. After the Merseyside Derby, manager Jurgen Klopp said he felt the share of the spoils a fair result as his team lacked sufficient level of creativity. Let’s see what he has cooked up to tackle the issue.

    Team News

    Midfielder James Milner was forced to stand in for a not fully fit left-back Andy Robertson at Goodison Park and was forced off with a hamstring problem. He is therefore very unlikely to be available for this game, but Robertson himself should be, as should forward Mohamed Salah who sat out the Derby on the bench for the same reason Robertson missed out. Defender Joel Matip was also taken off injured and is a doubt for this clash, which makes it likely that Joe Gomez, who replaced Milner against Everton, will now start alongside Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence. But if Robertson doesn’t get the nod, Gomez would likely be forced to make do at left-back again, with Dejan Lovren starting at centre-back. Winger Xherdan Shaqiri is still out with a calf issue.

    Crystal Palace

    Unlike Liverpool, the Eagles had a great first day back at the office. They beat Bournemouth away at the Vitality by 0-2, looking rather comfortable against the Cherries throughout the contest. Of course, facing Liverpool at Anfield will certainly be a different proposition even without any supporters in the stands, but Roy Hodgson’s men will have taken heart from their own opening fixture of the run-in, as well as that of Liverpool.

    Palace currently sit in ninth place with 42 points, just four off Manchester United in fifth which may end up leading into next season’s Champions League (depending on the result of Manchester City’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports after UEFA handed them a two-year ban), as well as Wolverhamption Wanderers in sixth. Be that as it may, they have a good chance of reaching a Europa League spot at least, with Tottenham Hotspur in eighth having the same tally, and Sheffield United in seventh doing better by two. So it’s fair to say that for Palace, this game won’t be just about stopping the champions elect; they’ll have reasons of their own to put on the best show possible.

    From their last six league outings, they won four times and lost twice, not a bad feat in itself, and it only gets better when the fact that the four wins came in the last four games is taken into consideration.

    Team News

    Hodgson won’t be able to call upon defenders James Tomkins and former Liverpool man Martin Kelly, as well as winger Jeffrey Schlupp, with all three players injured. The former Liverpool boss is expected to name an unchanged side from the Bournemouth trip, despite the proximity of the fixtures.

    Conclusion

    Calling this one in advance may be a bit more complicated than it seems at first glance. Crystal Palace have always been a rather tough nut to crack for Liverpool, so you can never write them off completely. But if you’re going by sheer logic in guessing the winner, it only makes sense to bet on a home win. Naming a player likely to score a goal may make more sense, though, and it’s fair to assume that having missed out last time, Salah will be motivated to spur his team on from the front.

    Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score

    Best odds: 17/20

    Bookmaker: 888sport

     

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