Insider Preview: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace


Manager – Frank DeBoer
Everyone’s favorite C-lister or worse in managerial replacements (Liverpool say, when replacing Dalglish), Frank DeBoer replaces Sam Allardyce, hired & sacked 2x in the same season, while helping Palace stave off relegation. Frank had six years of success at AJAX, winning Eredivisie 9 times (4 as manager, 5 as player). His last two seasons at Cruijff Arena started what became a 3 year decline in results, spreading to Inter-Milan where he lasted just a year, finishing 17th in Serie A.
His super-brief record at Palace has essentially been pre-season and 1 Premier League match.  In preseason, Palace went 2-2-1, with wins vs. West Brom & Maidstone, the loss vs. Liverpool in the Asia Cup final.  Palace then opened the season destroyed by newly-promoted Huddersfield, featuring a Joel Ward OG off a set piece.
Formations
DeBoer prefers a defensive 3-4-2-1, unlikely to change in week 2
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Key players
Christian Benteke who found back of the  net twice in his last trip to Anfield, celebrating in an unexplainable way with Mamadou Sakho.  Like the rest of Crystal Palace goose-egg’d vs. Huddlesfied, though he’ll likely become more of a scoring threat vs. his former club if Palace’s midfield can serve him the ball.
Injuries/ Bans
Yohan Cabaye (not match fit) & Wilifried Zaha (knee) are the biggest losses for Palace at the weekend.  Zaha’s injury expected to significantly weaken Palace’s attack, with Belgian teen Jason Loklio likely to sub in.
Others of note still out: James McCarthur (not match fit), Bakary Sako (not match fit), Connor Wickham (knee)
What to worry about
Set pieces (you knew you’d see this)
If the term wasn’t already worn out the last 5+ seasons, after Watford, or in the run up to Hoffenheim.  Still, here we are.  Palace didn’t score from any corners in their 12 attempts vs. Huddlersfield, but were 2nd in the Premier League in 16/17 with 7 corner goals to West Brom’s 8.  So yeah, still a concern.
Distribution: Palace in 16/17 were 2nd in the Premier League in crosses with 225, most of thes chances created favored the left flanks vs. right (49% to 40%), making Moreno’s job all the more important (yikes).
Midfield Feeding Palace’s Attack: Puncheon & Milivojevic struggled with Huddlersfield flooding midfield. Liverpool’s weaknesses absent Couthino & Lallana puts more pressure on Wijnaldim with a pedestrian performance away at Hoffenheim vs. a more physical Premier League side with less space.  Milner should get a look and add more physicality to the left & while Gruijic happy if he leaves his Anfield debut without a red.
Set Pieces: Palace placed 3rd highest in the PL 16/17 season (away matches) in goals from corners, 9 attempts last week vs. Huddlesfield, imagine we’ll see a healthy diet of this Saturday.  Liverpool will need more of the hybrid zonal / man marking they showed vs. Hoffenheim to compensate, combined with sheer desire which has been variable to nonexistent at Watford.
Touch: Palace favors the right over the left slightly, presenting more challenge for Moreno who opposes Zaha’s replacement (young Loklio – matchup favors Liverpool) & expect Trent Arnold to shut up shop vs. Loftus-Cheek, following a stellar performance Tuesday night.
Corners & Indirect Free Kicks: Expect Jason Puncheon with Cabaye out
Penalties & Direct Free Kicks:  Christian Benteke (penalties) & Luke Milivojevic (direct)
Advantage Liverpool?
Minutes Per Chance – Liverpool 5.4 (2nd in PL), Palace 8.3 (7th in PL)  Liverpool likely to rest Sadio Mane & Roberto Firmino after playing Tuesday.  Expect Salah to start, some combination of Sturridge and Solanke, Liverpool should still match up favorably vs. a back line shredded last week vs. Huddlersfield, missing Sakho.