The Big Match Tactical View: Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Both these sides recorded impressive opening day victories. Michael Cox and Alan Thompson assess Monday night's clash...
"Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka was outstanding against Ryan Sessegnon last week and should give Mane a good battle."
Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Monday 20:00, Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: Crystal Palace [7.4], Liverpool [1.49], The Draw [5.0].
After defeating one of his former clubs, Fulham, on the opening weekend, Roy Hodgson will be attempting to do likewise here against Liverpool.
Clearly, this represents a much tougher test, but Palace have caused Liverpool problems at Selhurst Park on Monday night fixtures before, and the atmosphere should be electric, especially after the news that Wilfried Zaha has signed a new contract with the Eagles.
Klopp unlikely to make changes
Liverpool, though, look a seriously strong side this season. The addition of Naby Keita has brought more energy and penetration in midfield, and Alisson is clearly a much better goalkeeper than last season's options. Liverpool's problem has often been against sides sitting deep, however, and that's the challenge they're likely to encounter here.
Jurgen Klopp's team selection is unlikely to change significantly from last weekend. The front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane is fantastic both individually and collectively, and it's difficult to know who Palace should fear most. Salah is the main goalscoring, but Firmino and Mane's work in slightly deeper positions is excellent.
James Milner was outstanding last week, so he should keep his place and break forward along with Keita. In the deeper role, Georginio Wijnaldum might have to make way for Jordan Henderson.
At the back, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk is Liverpool's most technical and mobile centre-back pairing for years, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson offering attacking threats and crossing ability from both flanks. For the first time, this Liverpool side feels roughly complete.
Palace to sit deep
So how will Palace go about stopping them? Hodgson's side are capable of pushing up the pitch and pressing the opposition, but a deeper defensive line against the speed of Salah and Mane feels natural here. Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka was outstanding against Ryan Sessegnon last week and should give Mane a good battle.
On the opposite flank, Patrick van Aanholt is primarily an attacking left-back, but he receives support from left-winger Jeffrey Schlupp, and together they might double up against Salah. James Tomkins should start alongside Liverpool old boy Mamadou Sakho in the centre of defence.
Benteke or Townsend upfront?
Hodgson's main decision is whether to continue with Christian Benteke upfront, despite the Belgian's struggles which have essentially lasted a year. On occasion last season he fielded Zaha alongside Andros Townsend upfront, an ultra-mobile front two which might cause Liverpool more problems in counter-attacking situations here. Benteke brings the type of aerial threat Liverpool have struggled against in the past, but is that still a weakness with Van Dijk in the side?
That will impact upon Hodgson's midfield selection. James McArthur and Luka Milovojevic started last weekend but newcomer Cheikhou Kouyate might be introduced with McArthur playing a narrow right-sided role and Townsend moving upfront. Hodgson will want Palace to be as solid as possible here, and that might mean a slightly defensive shift.
Zaha is clearly Palace's main danger man, and while Alexander-Arnold and Gomez are both quick, few Premier League defenders are capable of stopping him in full flow. Palace's attacking combination down the left, with Schlupp and Van Aanholt capable of charging into goalscoring positions, can be hugely dangerous.
You sense that the more Palace push forward the more they'll leave space for Liverpool to counter-attack into. But I think Hodgson's side could be dangerous outfit this season, particularly at home to big clubs, and while Liverpool look an excellent side, [1.49] seems incredibly short to me - I'll be laying Klopp's side at that price.
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
It's not hard to see why this game has been selected for Monday Night Football, the last five meetings between these two at Selhurst Park have produced a total of 22 goals. The Reds have taken all the points in the last three renewals but they had to come from behind last time as Palace lead 1-0 at the break.
Liverpool started odds-on in 14 of their away games last season and they won nine of them, only facing defeat at Swansea 1-0. That Swansea game was also one of only two (when starting odds-on) that they failed to score in, the other being 0-0 at Everton. They will be going into this in good spirits as they opened with a comprehensive 4-0 win over West Ham last week and it is no surprise to see over 2.5 goals trading as low as [1.6] for this.
Roy Hodgson's men laid their own marker down as well though last week as they won 2-0 at Craven Cottage against big spending Fulham and will be pleased with the fact that they have been able to secure Wilfried Zaha's services for the next five years.
I think this could be another entertaining meeting between the two but ultimately Liverpool should just have enough to get the job done. I will be backing Liverpool/Yes at anything above [3.0] in the Match Odds and Both Teams to score market.