The two main contenders for manager of the season face each other in a match which could go a long way to deciding the fate of an even bigger prize. With only a home match against free-falling Newcastle to come, Liverpool’s chances of lifting a first top flight title in 24 years may well rest on Monday’s game.
Brendan Rodgers’ side must put their heartbreaking defeat to Chelsea behind them in dealing with their first league defeat since losing to the Blues in December. After having a large impact on how the top five looks with wins against Chelsea and Everton, kingmakers Crystal Palace will be in no mood to roll over. Tony Pulis may have ensured that the Eagles will avoid relegation from the Premier League for the first time, but he will not allow his players to slack off.
The Palace defence will have to work especially hard against a Liverpool side who are close to becoming just the second team to score 100 goals in a Premier League season. More than half of those strikes have been supplied by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, both selected in the PFA’s Team of the Year this week. However, after drawing a blank against the best defence in the country, the usually deadly partnership will face the second meanest defence since the start of Pulis’ reign. How they respond will have wide-reaching ramifications.
KICK-OFF: Monday, 8pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Liverpool 3 (Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard) Crystal Palace 1 (Gayle), Premier League, October 2013
Crystal Palace 2 (Freedman, Reich) Liverpool 1 (Gerrard), League Cup, October 2005
Crystal Palace 1 (Johnson) Liverpool 0, Premier League, April 2005
In the last eight meetings between the sides, Palace have won more games, with four victories to Liverpool’s three.
Liverpool have the best away record in the league, taking 34 points from their 18 games away from Anfield.
Since Pulis took over, Palace have taken just two points from 11 games in which they’ve fallen behind.
Crystal Palace would still stay up if the season had started when Pulis became their manager, with the Eagles picking up 39 points from 24 games.
Liverpool have won only two of their last 31 Premier League games when they have been trailing at half-time.
Crystal Palace to win: 8.0
Liverpool to win: 1.4
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 8pm, highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm