Premier League

Crystal Palace-Liverpool Preview

An 0-3-2 Premier League rut that spanned January and into February feels like ancient history as Liverpool barrel toward the end of the campaign with their goal in sight: Champions League qualification.

Entering the weekend, the Reds (19-9-5) sit in third place on 66 points and are amid a 5-2-0 league stretch. Their next test comes Sunday against Crystal Palace at Anfield.

The Reds earned their eighth clean sheet with a solid performance in a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion last week. Liverpool kept more than 60 percent of possession and limited West Brom to two shots on target, while Roberto Firmino's first-half stoppage time goal was enough for the result.

Crystal Palace (10-5-17) have given Liverpool some trouble in past seasons and with a motivated former Red in striker Christian Benteke, the their defence will need to be in top form.

"He is obviously another player with confidence, in a good run and all that stuff," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. "Like it is always when you play against Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), other strikers, these kinds of strikers - tall, good with their back to the goal - you have to avoid the crosses and you have to avoid the passes. That's how it works.

"If we let them cross 50 balls it's pretty likely he will have a few dangerous headers. That's not his only strength, of course, but that's a real strength."

The Eagles are in a decent run of form as well, 5-1-1 in their last seven league matches and sit 15th on 35 points heading into the weekend.

Last time out, the Eagles did well to battle back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a point in a 2-2 draw with Leicester City. Yohan Cabaye and Benteke scored for Palace on the day.

But Liverpool's attack presents problems for any team and Palace will be without one of their best defenders in Mamadou Sakho, who is ineligible to because he is on loan at Palace from Liverpool.

In his stead, another former Liverpool player, Martin Kelly, has filled in well and was involved in recent wins over Arsenal and Chelsea.

"Martin Kelly is one I would like to single out as he has come back in and done a fantastic job at centre back after us losing Scott Dann and James Tomkins in the same match at Chelsea," Palace manager Sam Allardyce said.

Liverpool have won their last two Premier League games against Palace, after going four without a victory.

Crystal Palace have won on their last two visits to Anfield in the Premier League. The last team to win three in a row there were Chelsea in October 2005. Allardyce has never won a Premier League game at Anfield as a manager, going 0-3-10.

Updated April 20, 2017

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