Four key battles that could decide Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Liverpool travel to Selhurst Park this Saturday to take on Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

It's the Reds' third league match in six days as the hectic winter schedule shows no mercy, but Liverpool have won their other two December fixtures against Fulham and Sheffield United.

Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool team have an impressive record against Palace, but key injuries for both sides could prove decisive in Saturday's meeting.

As Liverpool hunt down top spot in the Premier League, here are four key battles from this weekend's clash with Crystal Palace.


Luis Diaz - Pro Shots

There may be a few doubts over Luis Diaz's inclusion on Saturday, especially given he has started Liverpool's last two Premier League games. The Colombian was substituted during the 2-0 victory over Sheffield United on Wednesday, with Cody Gakpo taking residence on the left flank in his absence.

Gakpo or Darwin Nunez could start on the left-hand side, but if Diaz plays, he could cause serious issues.

The winger would come up against Joel Ward and Diaz's trickery and acceleration could make life difficult for the 34-year-old. While Liverpool's No. 7 hasn't been in blistering form, he has still shown glimpses of quality in the Reds' recent matches.

Up against Ward, Diaz could get some joy.


Kostas Tsimikas - Pro Shots.

If you need any indication of just how good Michael Olise is on Palace's right-hand side, take a look at his goal against Luton Town from several weeks ago.

Kostas Tsimikas should return to the starting lineup on Saturday and has the tendency to be a little rash and overly aggressive in the challenge, often flying forward to try and make a block, interception or tackle. With Olise's quick feet, the Greek defender could leave himself exposed if he's not careful.

It's fair to say that Palace lack creativity at present, especially with Eberechi Eze sidelined, so keeping Olise quiet is key.


Darwin Nunez - Pro Shots

Nunez and Joachim Andersen have history.

If you rewind to Liverpool's game with Crystal Palace at Anfield in the opening weeks of last season, it was Andersen that the Uruguayan forward headbutted, receiving a red card as a result.

Not to say he wasn't provoked by the Crystal Palace defender, but he will certainly have to keep a cooler head at Selhurst Park.

Having come on and caused chaos against Sheffield United, Nunez should start against Palace on Saturday. Given the qualities of Marc Guehi - pace, strength, physicality - Liverpool's No. 9 may want to try and isolate Andersen's significant lack of speed at Selhurst Park.

If Nunez can find pockets of space in behind the Dane, then he could stretch what will likely be a rigid Palace backline, freeing up space for the likes of Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai in the process.


Trent Alexander-Arnold has been in fantastic attacking form in recent weeks, adding an assist to his tally against Sheffield United, but he may be caused some issues by Jordan Ayew on Saturday.

While the Eagles forward will hardly have Alexander-Arnold shaking in his boots, Ayew's work ethic can make him a threat.

Ayew works tirelessly for Roy Hodgson's side and will look to expose any space vacated by Alexander-Arnold on Liverpool's right flank. However, he will also be tasked with tracking the right-back's runs going forward and perhaps shadowing him in central positions to help prevent overloads.

Ayew is likely to help Tyrick Mitchell - if the left-back is fit - double up on Salah down Palace's left as well, with the Ghanaian's defensive duties almost as important as his attacking responsibilities on Saturday.

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