As we enter the next phase of the season, we should now start to see the League shuffle settle a little, and begin to understand what positions teams will be vying for.
Crystal Palace head to Anfield after the biggest surprise of the season, with their 3-0 home win against Tottenham brings Spurs back down to earth with a bang. Their attacking output was very impressive, with Wilfried Zaha and Odsonne Edouard standing out. Edouard came of the bench to net two late goals, and will now be hoping to replace Christian Benteke in the Blades starting line up. The rest of the side should remain in tact, with a fast paced forward line hopeful of exploiting Liverpool’s inevitable high line.
Patrick Vieira will be returning to Anfield as Palace manager (for the first time since his Arsenal days), hoping for another surprise result. We are yet to fully understand Vieira’s level in club management, but last weeks win (and an impressive transfer window), points to a potentially successful season. The flow of their game has certainly risen, and it appears Vieira will be looking to step away from the dogmatic approach taken by his predecessor, Roy Hodgson.
Liverpool are back at Anfield after a very entertaining Champions League tie, versus European heavyweights AC Milan. That game saw a few changes imposed (ending as a 3-2 win), in what could be somewhat of a trend throughout this busy season. The reds swatted away Leeds last weekend, and I expect much of that team to return this weekend. Harvey Elliott is now ruled out for an extended spell, due to last weeks unfortunate injury.
Virgil Van Dijk will undoubtedly return to the defensive line (after his rest in midweek), and I can see Ibrahima Konate starting next to him for his full debut. In Joël Matip we have a great defender that is performing to an exceptional standard, therefore both he and the returning Joe Gomez must be rested, after their mid week outing. To slot Konate in (next to Virgil) would be the best scenario, and against a pacy and powerful forward line, Konate has the attributes to match up nicely. The fact that Fabinho should be starting will also give a brilliant shield, and this game could represent a sensible game to start. Tuesdays League Cup game (away to Norwich), will offer opportunities for the reserve group, so the need to remain strong this Saturday is imperative for Klopp.
Thiago Alcantara will come back into the side, with Fabinho and either Naby Keita or Jordan Henderson the likely starters with him. The forward line will undoubtedly consist of the returning Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah, with Taki Minamino and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain as back up. Roberto Firmino will not yet be ready to return after injury, and Divock Origi picked up a knock in midweek, so will probably not be available for the bench.
As with last weekend (and indeed in midweek), there could be a surprise start somewhere and commonly throughout the campaign, therefore Curtis Jones could be a name of interest after a lively cameo against Milan. Whatever the starting line up, those available should be able to overcome this Palace side with a variety of attacking play, and the Blades will be in for a busy day.
Liverpool 4 – 0 Crystal Palace