On 5th October, Crystal Palace will travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool. This is the first time Crystal Palace and Liverpool have faced each over in a league game since the 2004/2005 season. The two teams are at opposite ends of the table with Liverpool up near the top in second and Palace looking likely for relegation down in 19th. Liverpool have had a great start to the season with 13 points through six games and look like they could be genuine top four contenders for the first time in a few years. Palace on the other hand, have looked poor so far this season only claiming three points.
Despite neither team having a game midweek, both teams have some injury problems to deal with. Palace will be without Damian Delaney, Jonathan Williams, Lewis Price, Jack Hunt and last seasons leading goalscorer Glen Murray. Paddy McCarthy and Yannick Bolasie are both game-day decisions. Liverpool do not have as many injuries but will be missing some key players: Philippe Coutinho, Glen Johnson and possibly Aly Cissokho. Liverpool will also be missing the likes of Joe Allen and Sebastian Coates. Coutinho is a major injury blow as Liverpool’s main creative player and Liverpool don’t really have a like for like replacement for him.
Last week Liverpool ended their two game losing streak with a 3-1 win over bottom of the table Sunderland. Luis Suarez also made his return to the Premier League after his ten game suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season. Crystal Palace continued to struggle in their first campaign back in the Premier League losing 2-0 to Southampton. Palace went the entire month of September without scoring a goal and will hope to open their account for October as early as possible.
As mentioned above, Palace did not score during the whole of September which dropped them to joint bottom in goals scored. The last time Palace travelled to Anfield, in November 2004, Liverpool came away with a 3-2 victory and former Liverpool striker Milan Baros bagged himself a hat-trick. None of the players that played in that match are still with the teams. Liverpool have only had three scorers in the league this year: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses.
Two players that could make a big impact in the game are Daniel Sturridge and Marouane Chamakh.
Chamakh was one of many players that came in this summer as Ian Holloway tried to help prepare his side for the grind of the Premier League. After starting only one Premier League game in his last two seasons at Arsenal, Chamakh has already started five league games for Crystal Palace this season. Chamakh has come in as a man to hold the ball up and provide an outlet for Palace as well as put the ball in the back of the net. Chamakh has been a decent hold up man and has won 48% of his aerial duels but his problem this season has been his unwillingness to shoot. Chamakh has had only one shot this year and he scored with it. While having a 100% chance conversion is great, if it only equates to one goal it’s not so good. Against Southampton over the weekend, Chamakh had a great opportunity to shoot but instead of shooting he tried to take the ball around the keeper and dived to try to win a penalty. Chamakh has been in some hot water this week because lets face it no one likes a diver. This situation shows Chamakh’s problem; his refusal to shoot most likely comes from a severe lack of confidence that may stem from the fact that he sat on the bench for Arsenal and West Ham for the past two seasons. Chamakh will get the playing time this year to try and rebuild his confidence and he will hope to continue to rebuild this week against Liverpool.
Sturridge has been not only Liverpool’s top scorer, this season, but the entire league’s top scorer. Sturridge moved from Chelsea to Liverpool in January and since then has been quite successful. Sturridge has been in fine form to start the season with five goals in six games and has converted 33% of his chances. Sturridge also assisted two of the three goals scored at the weekend at Sunderland and has been responsible for 88% of Liverpool’s goals so far this season. While Sturridge hasn’t been creating a lot of chances for team mates, when he creates chances they tend to be good chances. Sturridge has only created five chances this season but three of them have been clear cut. Sturridge played out wide when he was at Chelsea and has been able to take people on like a winger making 13 successful dribbles. Sturridge has scored in all of the games this season except for the one game that they lost. Sturridge has been one of, if not the most important cog in the Liverpool machine that has surprised everyone by doing this well.
With the struggles Palace have had this season, this will be a difficult fixture for Ian Holloway’s side. If Liverpool want to reach their aspirations of the top four, these are games they will need to be winning. Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge has scored more goals than the entire Palace team. Palace have had trouble scoring goals this season and Liverpool have been good at keeping them out, having only allowed four league goals. Palace have been struggling, Liverpool have been excelling this year and the game is at Anfield, making it difficult to see anything other than a comfortable Liverpool win.