Crystal Palace have been brilliant under Tony Pulis says Mike Norman, but now that they have little to play for they could be on the wrong end of a hiding from wounded title challengers Liverpool...
"Rodgers' men have destroyed some better teams than Palace in the first 45 minutes this season and I fully expect the away side to come out firing and score early once more."
Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Live on Sky Sports 1
It shows the magnitude of Crystal Palace's achievements that they were available to back at 200.0199/1 to record a Top 10 Finish this season, and yet prior to this weekend's round of fixtures they were in 11th, just one point behind Stoke in 10th.
The Eagles still have a small chance of finishing in the top half of the table but because of Stoke's victory on Saturday they need six points from their last two games, and realistically, that's going to be a very tough task.
Not that I think Palace will be busting a gut to finish top 10, nor will they be bothered if they miss out; the fact that they've avoided relegation is an achievement in itself and deserves huge recognition.
Tony Pulis has been the mastermind behind Palace's success, he instilled belief and organisation as soon as he arrived and he made the newly-promoted club difficult to beat. It's remarkable that 10 of Palace's last 12 wins were achieved by keeping a clean sheet.
What that also points to however is that when the Eagles do concede then they tend to lose - just like they did to Manchester United, Southampton, and Manchester City recently. But you can't knock five wins from their last six games, though you do have to wonder how much the Palace players have got left in the locker with the end of season looming.
Liverpool's incredible winning run of 11 league games came to a shuddering halt when they slipped up - quite literally - at home to Chelsea last week. True, there's no guarantee that the Reds would have taken a point from Anfield if Steven Gerrard hadn't have gifted Chelsea their opening goal, but if the club do fail to win the title on the back of his error then you've got to feel for the Liverpool captain.
I say the above as a neutral of course. I'm not sure Chelsea, Man City, Everton, and United fans will share my sentiment!
So the title now looks in City's hands after they beat Everton 2-3 on Saturday. Two home wins for Manuel Pellegrini's men is 99% certain to win them the title on goal difference if Liverpool also win their final two games (Man City 1.271/4, Liverpool 4.94/1).
But think back 25 years - Liverpool 9 Crystal Palace 0. What Brendan Rodgers would do for a repeat of that scoreline.
Ok, we might be in the land of the fairies to suggest that Monday night's game could end in a similar way. But a full strength Liverpool side, one that is setting records for the number of goals scored, against a club that has little to play for. A huge win isn't entirely out of the question. Since that 9-0 game Liverpool have also beaten Palace 5-0 (twice) and 1-6.
A repeat of any of those scorelines, and with Newcastle to come at home on the final day, this goal difference malarkey might not be as cut and dry as we all think. Ok, I'll get my coat!
The home side can be backed at 9.28/1 for the win, and a few weeks ago that would have been worth serious consideration. But now that Palace are safe from the drop I just don't see them applying the same intensity as they have in recent games. You just sense that the Eagles' form is going to drop off now, and they make no appeal to win this game.
Liverpool on the other hand are a wounded animal. Failing to take a point last weekend will have hurt them immensely but the good news for us in this game is that the Reds still have every chance of winning the title. They'll go at Palace from the off, they'll score goals, and the away side will win comfortably.
Big-hitters might be licking their lips at the opportunity to back Liverpool to win at 1.422/5. The Draw is available to back at 5.24/1.
Half Time/Full Time
Last week's blank was the first time since early November that Liverpool have failed to score a first half goal in the league. But I wouldn't expect them to go two games in a row without scoring early. Rodgers' men have destroyed some better teams than Palace in the first 45 minutes this season and I fully expect the away side to come out firing and score early once more.
For Liverpool to be leading at the interval before going on to win the game you can get odds of 2.1211/10 and that's possibly the best bet of the game. Though I wouldn't put anyone off backing the Any Unquoted Half Time Score (any side to score at least three) at odds of 9.617/2.
It's 4.84/1 about Liverpool (or Palace) scoring at least four in this game and that's worth a wager. As already mentioned I expect the Reds to be fired up for this game and if they can score one or two first half goals then I would't rule out a big win at all.
Luis Suarez will start the game, and so too will Daniel Sturridge most likely. Raheem Sterling and Coutinho have been in fine form of late and if the quartet can combine in their usual devastating fashion then this game could be a rout.
Perhaps I'm doing Palace a disservice, sure they'll be up for this game and their home support is incredible. But I can't help but feel now that they're safe their performance levels will drop slightly, and if that's the case Liverpool are best equipped to take advantage.
Even without Palace underperforming you still have to consider that away from home Liverpool have scored six past Cardiff, five past Stoke, five past Spurs, and three against the likes of Everton, Man Utd, and Southampton.
Back Liverpool HT/Liverpool FT @ 2.1211/10
Back Any Unquoted Correct Score @ 4.84/1
Back Any Unquoted Half Time Score @ 9.617/2