Jurgen Klopp‘s side head to Selhurst Park for the Saturday lunchtime offering, knowing how vital another win would be in the title battle.
While the horrors of 2014 will always create an element of concern when Liverpool head to Palace, the Reds have won on eight of their last nine visits there.
The Eagles are ticking along in their usual mid-to-lower-table manner, but there is growing frustration surrounding Hodgson and whether a new manager would get more out of the squad.
Ahead of the game, Henry Jackson spoke to actor and Palace regular Robbie Scotcher (@RobbieScotcher) to discuss Hodgson’s future, Liverpool’s title chances, VAR and more.How would you assess Palace’s season so far?
I’m writing this after the Bournemouth game on Wednesday night. It’s slowly going from promising to frustrating to ‘when does the cricket season start’!
The board tried to make positive moves in the summer, but due to our business relying on other deals to go through, we ended up starting the season very light.
But we got points on the board and were looking good for mid-table or maybe even creeping into top half of the table.
Then Eberechi Eze was kicked off the park, and with Michael Olise still injured, we lost our spark.
But defensively, Crystal Palace are still solid. We got everyone back, then the Luton game happened, with Eze kicked back off the pitch onto the treatment table and Cheick Doucoure limping off with a potential season-ending injury.
Which takes us from the end of last season and playing some bloody good stuff, to watching some pragmatic football instead.
Wednesday night it was just dire, though – as bad as I’ve seen it in a long time.Is it time for a change of manager?
I don’t think so. There’s not an obvious replacement, apart from potentially Steve Cooper. Right now, we need to get to the point where either the players return or we invest in the squad.
I don’t think players spend a great deal of time on the training ground in December and Roy Hodgson knows this team inside out.
He has his faults and can come out with some clangers in interviews – he hates doing media – but a few weeks ago he went on a Palace podcast and listening to him was insightful and actually inspiring.
The only way I would make a change was if the perfect candidate to take the team forward became available.
I would like to see the board invest in the squad.Who has starred and disappointed this season?
It’s hard to think back after Wednesday evening’s shower of shit.
Most of the season the defence have been very solid, with the centre-back pairing the best we’ve had and Tyrick Mitchell finding the form that got him his England call-up.
He went off injured against Bournemouth, which is a concern.
Bringing in Dean Henderson made it look like Sam Johnstone’s time at Palace might be over, but the former went off shortly into his first game – ironically against the team we bought him from – and the latter has looked great ever since.
Odsonne Edouard has been showing some form and Jefferson Lerma has been great on a free, while Jordan Ayew, the Ghanaian Messi, has been an important player for us.
His holdup play and work rate have been excellent and we will miss him when he goes off to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.
Olise is just starting to get going after missing the start of the season – when they’re both back on the pitch everything knits together.
Nathan Ferguson has been a disappointment for me, though, not that it’s his fault. We have had him for a few seasons and he has been plagued with injuries and never got going.
He is a really talented right-back that I’ll get to see one day.Just how big a loss is Eberechi Eze?
It’s huge. Eze is so creative and at the centre of so much that we do well. Having him and Olise on the pitch is a handful for anyone.
He is such an intelligent player and everyone else is better with him on the pitch. He is that player that makes the crowd get on their feet.
Eze has just signed another contract with us, but I’m sure he will move on soon, potentially becoming a Champions League player.What’s your take on VAR?
I still have the utopian view that no matter how much money is around, football should stay the same. From grassroots up to Champions League, over the white line, there isn’t any difference in the actual game.
I get goal-line technology, but I didn’t want VAR. I don’t think it takes into account momentum of a single moment or the feel of the game.
That said, now that it’s here, it’s not going anywhere, so we should look at improving the individuals using it – and not change the handball law a million times.
Our referees seem a bit arrogant on the pitch and then flap in the VAR van. The conversations over decisions seem like a free-for-all, with the loudest voice winning.
I think we have to remember that these are laws of the game, not rules, and some things are up for interpretation.
Pundits need to stop saying that was never a penalty, free-kick or handball when the new laws say it is.Looking at Liverpool, how do you assess their title chances?
Liverpool will definitely be up there fighting for the title until the end.
What has changed compared to last season?
Great recruitment. You needed to make changes and you brought in some really good footballers.
The pace Liverpool play at is the most frightening thing, as well as being great to watch.Where will the key battles take place at Selhurst Park?
I don’t think Liverpool have too many weaknesses, especially against a very depleted Palace side.
We may stand a good chance at set-pieces, though.
Alisson is potentially the best away goalkeeper I’ve seen at Selhurst Park. If he is out, then maybe that will unnerve the defence a little.
Olise has shown he can hit the target from anywhere, but I’m clutching at straws.
I don’t believe in the early kickoff being an issue – I think you beat us 7-0 at that time back in 2020/21.
We need our fans onside. If we can frustrate you a little or even grab an early goal, then we can get the crowd going.
We definitely won’t get a result with a quiet Selhurst park.Finally, what’s your prediction?
We will set up to lose 2-0 and maybe nick one.
We need a reaction from Wednesday, and while Liverpool are expected to win comfortably, this is an opportunity to put in a good performance.
That’s what I want from the game – a good, solid team performance.
I never say we will lose a game, so I will go for Crystal Palace 1-1 Liverpool.
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) December 7, 2023
The Brazilian has been out of action since picking up a hamstring problem towards the end of last month’s 1-1 draw at Man City, with many hoping he would recover in time to face the other half of Manchester at Anfield.
A somewhat cryptic post on his Instagram story might indicate that we will get our wish, with the No. 1 posting a picture with his gloves to insinuate that he is back in training with the Reds.
His return date had been expected to fall in time for the visit of Erik ten Hag’s side on December 17, and it appears we are still on track for that.
Caoimhin Kelleher has proven himself to be a more than capable deputy in recent years, but this is still a sight for sore eyes, to say the least!3 things today: FA Cup date & Mac Allister update
The boss has said he believes Man United are involved in this season’s title race. It’s polite of him to say it but we don’t believe you, Jurgen!
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Our blue neighbours are in action this Thursday night as they look to claw back the 10 points they were deducted for disgracing the Premier League with their blatant cheating.
They host Newcastle at 7.30pm (GMT) and you can watch all of the action unfold on Amazon Prime, if you happen to have it!
Liverpool now know when they will kick off their FA Cup journey in what promises to be another tricky third-round tie.
It has been an extraordinary run of bad luck in cup draws for Jurgen Klopp, who did manage to get his hands on the trophy as part of a domestic cup double back in 2021/22.
The Gunners will play host at the Emirates for this one, and that meeting will take place on Sunday January 7, kicking off at 4.30pm (GMT).
The contest will be shown live on BBC One in the UK.
More famously, late heroics from Michael Owen in Cardiff saw the Reds snatch victory from the Gunners in the 2001 final, the second of three trophies lifted by Gerard Houllier’s side that season.
Arsenal have made a strong start to the Premier League season and the two sides will meet later this month in what is likely to be a crucial clash at the top end of the table two weeks prior to the cup tie.
Mohamed Salah isn’t expected to be available for selection as he is likely to have departed for the Africa Cup of Nations, which for Egypt will begin on January 14 against Mozambique.
Klopp has an impressive record against Arsenal as Liverpool boss, getting the better of them on 11 occasions while drawing five and losing four.
He will be hoping to continue that trend in the two upcoming encounters with Mikel Arteta’s side in the next few weeks.
Let’s hope we can take the first step to Wembley with a win over the Gunners next month!
Quansah has enjoyed something of a breakthrough season at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp so far in 2023/24, registering 10 senior appearances in all competitions after impressing during the pre-season tours of Singapore and Germany.
The 20-year-old is now likely to move up the pecking order after it was confirmed that Matip had sustained a tear to his ACL, sparking fears that he may have played his last game for the club given that his contract expires this summer.
Van Dijk has no concerns that Quansah will be able to shoulder the additional responsibility set to come his way, describing the youngster’s future in the game as “bright.”
“Every time he has had the opportunity so far he has done well,” said Van Dijk after the Reds emerged 2-0 winners at Bramall Lane.
“When the moment is there for him, like every other player who will come in when we rotate or have injuries or suspensions, they have to be ready.
“That goes for him as well. We still have Ibou, Joey, but Jarell is a very good option as well. In general, for all the younger generation, if you are close to the first team and training with us, you have to soak everything in. And he is doing well.
“He’s a good boy. It’s good to see. He wants to learn and he is learning. Like every one of us.
“If you told me at the start of the season that he would be doing as well as he is doing, I would say you are lying.
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“He is progressing, learning and wants to do it as well. When he keeps doing that, we will see what the future brings for him but it looks quite bright.”
Liverpool’s skipper admitted he was devastated to learn that the side will be without Matip for the foreseeable future, with this season likely to be his eighth and final on Merseyside.
The Reds are no strangers to defensive injuries, but the latest setback could provide a significant window of opportunity for Quansah to try and grasp with both hands.
Liverpool FC and Carlsberg are thrilled to confirm they have extended their existing long-term partnership for another 10 years.
The inking of this agreement will bring the partnership to an incredible 42 years, and reiterates its standing as the longest partnership in Premier League and club history.
This unique and long-lasting relationship between Liverpool Football Club and Carlsberg was first launched in 1992, when Carlsberg became a principal partner of the club and took pride of place on the front of the Reds’ shirt.
During that time it witnessed some of the club’s most iconic and celebrated moments on the pitch, including the unforgettable cup treble in 2001, the miracle of Istanbul in 2005, a UEFA Super Cup, and The Gerrard Final.
Carlsberg then went on to become the club’s official beer in 2010, and will remain so until at least 2034 thanks to this new decade-long renewal.
Speaking about the renewal with Carlsberg, Ben Latty, Commercial Director Liverpool Football Club, said: “We are absolutely delighted to continue to have Carlsberg as a member of the LFC partner family for another 10 years.
“The longevity of this agreement is testimony to our commitment to each other and the success of our partnership so far, which has been built on a deeply-rooted set of shared values.
“We have been on quite a journey with Carlsberg since 1992, and we consider them as more than a partner, they are a true supporter of Liverpool Football Club.
“They are woven into the fabric of the club, across our men’s and women’s teams, and we look forward to what the next 10 years brings for this amazing partnership.”
Liverpool’s No. 1 has missed the last three games, after picking up an injury in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw with Man City last month.
That appears to be on track, with the goalkeeper dropping a major hint on his Instagram story on Thursday:
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) December 7, 2023
Sharing a photo of a pair of used gloves from the AXA Training Centre, Alisson suggested he has now resumed training with the ball.
Alisson will be working closely with the club’s medical staff, along with goalkeeping coaches John Achterberg, Jack Robinson and Claudio Taffarel.
His involvement in training on Thursday could see him in contention for the trip to Union SG in the Europa League next week.
However, with Liverpool already qualified for the last 16 having guaranteed top spot in Group E, there is a strong chance he remains on Merseyside.
Not everything went to plan on the night but Liverpool got the win and that’s what Jurgen Klopp will deem important.
The game does raise questions about who will play against Crystal Palace and how the manager will approach the next block of fixtures.
Adam: No more than usual, if I’m honest.
I felt like we were in control for most of the second half despite not being at our best and it would have felt like a bit of a smash-and-grab if they’d nicked a point.
For large parts, it felt like we as fans were a bit nonchalant in the ground, as seemed to be the case against Fulham, but I imagine the anxiousness will return as the months go by if we go deep into a title race.
That said, you never quite know when it’s just the one goal and it was really satisfying to see Dominik Szoboszlai put the icing on the cake.
Sam: It definitely became closer as the match went on but I think that’s inevitable against any team while just one goal ahead.
In general, Liverpool managed the game very well once they went ahead, but it was by no means a rest and was a testing 112 minutes going into Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off.
Though nerves began to play a part towards the end, we need to start considering how Liverpool are playing this season rather than last. The Reds now have the joint-best defensive record in the league, with Arsenal.How would you assess the performance overall?
Sam: It was definitely a case of getting the job done, as Jurgen Klopp himself eluded to after the match.
This time of year, again like the boss said, is about momentum, and Liverpool now have that thanks to four wins in our last five matches.
On the night, there were elements of good performances, but ultimately things didn’t click up front. Sheffield United defended deep and didn’t allow the attackers any space to even get shots away at times.
It was the type of match we wouldn’t have been pleased with if we hadn’t won, but that’s football and who’s bothered? Certainly not Liverpool fans.
Adam: It wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t particularly need to be.
We were definitely sloppy at times, at both ends of the pitch, and against a better side we might have been punished.
But in reality, a win and a clean sheet on the road is never to be sniffed at, particularly when there is so much at stake as there already feels to be.Can we expect to see Endo more often?
Adam: I’d be amazed if not, particularly given how busy the schedule is about to get.
He gives us a nice balance and appears to be gradually adapting to life in the Premier League, which was always going to take a bit of time.
If I were being harsh, I’d say it sometimes takes him a while to settle into games and find his feet, but he always ends up hitting the tempo of the game and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line when needed.
Sam: The Japanese has quietly been performing quite well of late.
At home and against teams lower down the league, he is ideal as a player who steps up and nicks the ball in front of players to keep pressure on the opposition.
My only worry would be against teams that turn Liverpool around with speed; we have seen he isn’t the best when running back towards his own goal.Is Diaz’s form a worry?
Sam: Diaz has three league goals in 10 starts this season, but only has one assist all campaign.
I wouldn’t call his recent performances worrying, though. He obviously went through a traumatic period and is now coming out the other side, but I think it would be harsh to judge his season given the circumstances.
If Liverpool stick with him, he will come good again as he is one of the players who have that something special within them.
I think he needs to get back to running at defenders and reaching to the byline. It is also important to remember he still has plenty of time, at 26-years-old.
Perhaps Cody Gakpo could take over on the left for a while to ease the pressure on the Colombian.
Adam: The lack of goals is something that has always been levelled at him since he arrived two years ago, but it’s not something I’m necessarily spending to much time stressing over.
It will be interesting to see what the manager does when Mo Salah heads to AFCON, because I can see Diaz being the one to pick up some of those minutes on the right.
He only returned to the side from his knee injury in the middle of April so the end of last season was a bit of a free hit for him, but we could probably do with seeing a bit more output from him soon, in an ideal world.How many changes for you against Crystal Palace?
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I was surprised to see Mac Allister get the nod from the start and fully expect him to drop out on Saturday as Sam said, perhaps paving the way for someone like Ryan Gravenberch to return to the XI.
It is going to be a bit of a guessing game in the next few weeks, but I reckon we’ve got squad to cope!
Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s role change earlier this year has had a significant impact on Liverpool’s upturn in form, as demonstrated by an impressive recent stat.
The Reds struggled to find consistency throughout 2022/23, causing them to fall out of the Champions League places for the first time in seven years.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side did, however, embark upon a resurgent run towards the end of the campaign, with Alexander-Arnold’s switch into a hybrid position proving to be a catalyst.
The No. 66 became an inverted full-back and operated largely from the middle of the pitch from April onwards, with Liverpool winning seven straight games in an unlikely late push for a top-four spot.
While that quest proved ultimately unsuccessful, it marked the beginning of an impressive run which has seen the Reds win 17 of their last 25 league games, losing only one – a defeat clouded by controversy at Tottenham.
It means that Klopp’s side sit top of the form table since the tactical tweak, as shown by @BassTunedToRed on Twitter.
Not to be taken too seriously: pic.twitter.com/nPcjQWFRBw
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) December 6, 2023
Man City are unsurprisingly in second place following their relentless surge to the title at the back end of the season, while current leaders Arsenal find themselves below Aston Villa and seven points behind the Reds.
Alexander-Arnold has registered three goals and 12 assists since moving position back in April, becoming an even greater creative force since being handed a licence to impose himself further up the pitch.
Two of those goals came in the recent encounters with Man City and Fulham, with the Scouser denied another as his terrific free-kick against the latter was deemed to be an own goal having clipped Bernd Leno on the way in off the crossbar.
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It has reignited the never-ending debate over whether the 25-year-old would be better served as an out-and-out midfielder, with Gareth Southgate choosing to play him there in recent fixtures for England.
The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the change has been a positive one for Liverpool, with the player himself indicating last month that he feels his strengths lie further up the pitch.
Discussions over his position are unlikely to die down any time soon, but it certainly appears that the Reds are reaping the benefits of utilising his talents from central areas in the Premier League.
Dominik Szoboszlai‘s added-time goal ended up being a tension reliever for the travelling supporters, who had watched Liverpool largely dominate, only to come under pressure in the closing stages.
Having 76 percent of the possession away from home tells the story of how Liverpool, clad in their purple kit, controlled the match.
There was always a slight feeling of nervousness, though, with just a one-goal advantage.
FotMob’s momentum graphic shows how little Sheffield United offered until the closing minutes of the match.
In fact, the hosts’ only shot on target all game came from James McAtee in the 12th minute, which forced Caoimhin Kelleher to stay on his feet and save one-on-one.Defending on the front foot
One statistic in particular stood out on the night and it came thanks to Ibrahima Konate‘s aggressiveness on the pitch.
For some context, the Frenchman has won on average 7.64 duels won per game this season. The 19 duels even accounts for 39 percent of all his duels won this season (49).
Of those duels, 14 were in the air which he won all of. That’s some going.
What do these statistics actually mean on the pitch? Well, it shows how the two centre-back roles differ.
Konate plays much more on the front foot then Van Dijk, with the Dutchman usually taking a role closer to a sweeper at the back.
WhoScored.com’s heatmap from the game backs this up, with Konate spending more time in the opponent’s half than Van Dijk.
Despite having 15 shots and dominating the ball, Liverpool weren’t at their most fluid on Wednesday night. FotMob tell us they had just four ‘big chances’ and the Reds’ xG was 1.69 to Sheffield United‘s 0.99.
This meant Klopp’s team relied on set pieces, mostly corners, to win the match. With seven ‘big chances’ created in total between the teams, the game was won in moments.
The manager said: “We defended their set pieces really really good and that’s the most important thing then, and then you have to go for the moments.
“Games are decided in moments. You don’t need 80 percent possession to win a football game, 10 percent is enough sometimes.”
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Liverpool won more corners at Bramall Lane (12) than in any other game this season, except against Everton when they also had 12.
Van Dijk stepped up for Liverpool and swept home a lovely volley to open the scoring, and could have scored directly from another corner soon after.
It was a real show of leadership from the captain whose goal was surprisingly his first of the season.
FotMob is an essential app for any fan to keep up with their team or follow football worldwide, it has everything you could want and you can download the FotMob App here.