Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
• Crystal Palace have not won a league game at Anfield for 24 years since a 2-1 victory in November 1991, when Marco Gabbiadini and Geoff Thomas netted for the Eagles.
• Gerrard has registered one Premier League assist this term, his lowest total since his debut season in 1998-99.
• Palace have gone 12 league matches without a clean sheet. Their total of six shut-outs this season is the joint lowest in the Premier League, along with QPR (BBC Sport)
This weekend will feature a host of Premier League teams, either still fighting for the best finish possible or already accepting their demise and looking to finish the season strong.
For Liverpool, based on their results up to this point, the fourth-place Champions League slot has become their ultimate aim as the summer of 2015 approaches. However, Manchester United, with 68 points, occupy that spot and sit six points ahead of the Reds, who have won only once in their last five competitions.
With two matches remaining, this Saturday’s fixture against Crystal Palace and their final bout vs. Stoke City on May 24, Liverpool could match United if Louis van Gaal’s side loses two straight, though goal differential would provide a further hurdle.
As far as the Palace game goes, it may be the last time Steven Gerrard, set to begin at MLS club LA Galaxy in July, takes the pitch at Anfield.
[RELATED: Gerrard — “Less pressure” in MLS]
But Alan Pardew’s Glaziers will hope to spoil the Englishman’s apparent finale and break their four-game losing run. Despite their recent downturn, Palace had enough of a cushion with 42 points to steer clear of relegation and some have made the argument for Pardew as PL Manager of the Season.
A victorious outcome in this match, available to watch on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET or online via Live Extra, will reinforce the spotlight on a much improved Palace.
What they’re saying
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Steven Gerrard’s legacy and meaning to Anfield faithful (Sky Sports): “I will miss Steven Gerrard as a man. I think both our interests are purely devoted to Liverpool Football Club..I asked a lot of my staff to describe Steven in one word and I’d use the word ‘Liverpool’. What Steven has given to this city, politicians haven’t given. He’s a wonderful symbol for the people and he’s very much about looking after his people…Today is about commemorating the career of a wonderful player.”
Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon on new contract and future of team (Crystal Palace official website): “For me the most important thing is doing your work for your team. Without the team I wouldn’t have been able to sign that contract, because the team has done incredibly well and we’ve got ourselves in a great position following on from last season…I think we’ve got a nice mixture in our squad of experience and younger players. Everybody’s still growing as players and I think we’ve got a good team to go forward with.”
Battling a hamstring injury for over a month now, defender Mamadou Sakho has successfully returned to training this week; his gameday status is up in the air.
Pardew has no fresh injury worries. Jason Puncheon, who scored as a substitute against Manchester United last weekend and recently signed a new contract as noted earlier, could see more playing time than usual. Additionally, several youngsters, including Sullay Kaikai, might gain some experience tomorrow.
At their best, Liverpool gets the three points, but with both teams in a bit of struggle, is a clear-cut result similar to Palace’s 3-1 victory over United in November 2014 likely? Facing the exit of a legend, now is the time for the Reds to play inspired attacking football. Liverpool 3-2 Palace.