Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace: Premier League Matchday 32 Preview

Liverpool tries to get back on track as they face Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Crystal Palace v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Just weeks after a quadruple of sorts was not only the table, but looking quite realistic, Liverpool's season looks to be in serious jeopardy of ending with no silverware beyond the Carabao Cup.

The Reds have won just three of their past seven games, with those wins coming against Sparta Prague, Brighton, and Sheffield United. Things need to change quickly if they're going to make a push to win the only prize that is still realistically on the table- the Premier League.

Arsenal is now in pole position, as the two clubs are level on points but the Gunners own the edge in goal differential, but Liverpool is right in the mix.

One would imagine that a perfect finish to the domestic campaign would give Jürgen Klopp's side a great chance to hoist the trophy, and that potential successful run-in starts on Sunday against Crystal Palace.

The Reds are as healthy as they've been in some time, but the additions haven't yet had the desired positive impact.

Finding success the rest of the way will require Klopp to fully leverage all of his depth, so let's talk about who might have an impact in this positively must-win Premier League match, one of just three remaining Anfield matches in league play in the Klopp era.

Top of the Pitch

Once again, the Liverpool forwards were nowhere near good enough against Atalanta, as 70% possession, 19 shots, 3 big chances and 2.60 xG yielded absolutely nothing by way of goals at Anfield.

Darwin Nunez missed a big early opportunity, which could have very easily changed the tenor of what was then a 0-0 match.

Mo Salah was lively after he came on, and almost helped the Reds get on the scoreboard but was thwarted by an oh-so-close offsides decision.

The best news from this match is that Cody Gakpo looked sharper than he has in recent days, and of course the cameo from Diogo Jota, who played about 20 minutes in his first match since February 17th.

Jota is likely the team's most clinical finisher, and certainly the most consistent one who often plays in the middle.

If he's able to play a bigger role against Palace, he could be the catalyst for a better attacking performance on Sunday.

Liverpool will be squaring off with a Palace defense that ranks 13th in the league in goals conceded per match, but has been slightly lucky in terms of xG. Of course, given Liverpool's finishing struggles, the Eagles could once again get away with giving up too many chances, so we'll have to see how these recent trends play out on the pitch.

The Midfield

You saw the goal creation and possession numbers above- the midfield was once again the relative bright spot against Atalanta.

Wataru Endō had his weakest performance in some time, but overall, the players in the middle of the pitch gave the goalscorers plenty of opportunities to do more than they did.

Curtis Jones wasn't necessarily at his best, but it was wonderful to see him play at least an entire half for the first time since February 10th.

His health and form will be important going forward as Liverpool seek to earn the maximum remaining points, but don't expect him to see the pitch as Klopp will likely pick his top midfield of Endō, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Alexis Mac Allister.

Palace has been one of the worst possession sides in the league, ranking 16th in the metric with an average of 41.3%.

Attacking midfielder Eberechi Eze has been the team's best player as per FotMob, but even he has only chipped in a pair of assists in league play, as the unit has simply not been good enough, and should be overwhelmed by the red-hot Liverpool group.

The Back End

After weeks of showing cracks, the floodgates opened for Liverpool's defense. Caoimhin Kelleher had a rare stinker, while Virgil van Dijk looked as lost as you'll really ever see him.

Kostas Tsimikas was also well below an acceptable level, which is less out of the ordinary, while Joe Gomez also disappointed.

Thankfully, it's not likely that we'll see that same back four, and of the players who are on the pitch, it's also not probable that they all flop at the same time once more.

The captain van Dijk will all but surely be in the XI, but expect a total switch-up elsewhere, with the likes of Jarell Quansah, Andy Robertson, and Conor Bradley all returning to inject some pace and energy into the defense.

Palace is 17th in the league in terms of scoring per game, while they're even worse in xG and dead last as far as big chances created.

Liverpool should have every ability to stifle their forwards, but recently, it hasn't been that simple- the Reds will need to stick to their assignments and keep a clean sheet to build some confidence going forward.