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Crystal Palace-Liverpool Preview
Just one week into the new Premier League season and Liverpool supporters and pundits may feel like the 2016-17 campaign has never ended.
Jurgen Klopp's Reds have had a lot of difficulty dealing with set-pieces in recent seasons, and last week's opener at Vicarage Road against Watford was no different. But nothing solves defensive difficulty like the first home league match of the season.
The Merseyside outfit will again aim for that first top-flight win Saturday against Crystal Palace at Anfield.
Liverpool's high-powered attack was in full-flight last week as Sadio Mane, who looked fully-healthy after missing several months with a knee injury, new boy Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino all scored. However, the defence failed late when Miguel Angel Britos knocked it home three minutes into stoppage time to salvage a point.
Luckily, the Reds had the opportunity to get back on the pitch quickly when they traveled to Hoffenheim for the first leg of their Champions League playoff. Klopp's men did well to bounce back from domestic disappointment with goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner to take a 2-1 lead back to Anfield for the second leg.
Now, they must return to Melwood with thoughts of putting on a good performance in front of the home fans. The club will get a boost on the injury front as Klopp confirmed striker Daniel Sturridge will be fit to play against Palace.
"Daniel yes, I would say," Klopp said "Yesterday he was part of the complete session and looked really good, but always after injuries you have to wait to see how the player reacts to this intensity."
But on the negative side, mid-field maestro Philippe Coutinho is still unavailable as he recovers from a back injury while rumors swirl about his potential move to Barcelona. Right back Nathaniel Clyne will also miss out due to his own back injury.
Frank de Boer's managerial debut for Crystal Palace did not go as planned and ended in a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of new boys Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park. The Eagles were off their game from the start as the opening salvo came from a Joel Ward own goal on 23 minutes. Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie went on to net a brace as the Terriers ran out comfortable winners in their Premier League debut.
For the hosts, it was a difficult day with plenty of lessons learned as they try to get a result against Liverpool.
"It is a very false start for everybody," de Boer said. "Nobody expected it and it's a very hard lesson for everyone - the staff and the players. At the highest level in football, matches will be decided on details and I think we lost the game in 15 minutes. We started well but after 10 minutes we made the wrong choices and we were pulled back, and from there they were the team that had the most opportunities.
"After 50 minutes we began to do exactly what we were supposed to do, and then we had control of the game again and created chances. Just before it went to 3-0 we were very close to making it 2-1, and if we had done that then I would have been confident that we would have got a point."
Both teams have scored in each of the last 10 meetings in all competitions, averaging 3.9 goals per match. Crystal Palace can become the first side to win four consecutive Premier League games against Liverpool at Anfield.
Christian Benteke has scored five goals in his previous three Premier League matches at Anfield as an opposition player, more than he has at any other away ground in the competition.
Sadio Mane has three goals and one assist in five Premier League fixtures against Crystal Palace.
Updated August 17, 2017