Liverpool will look to increase their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The Reds have dropped just two points this season, and head into the match on the back of a 3-0 victory over champions Manchester City before the international break.
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, sit 12th and have failed to score in three of their last four games, with their last win coming back in early October away at West Ham.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will have to do without the services of Mohamed Salah, with the Egypt forward suffering from an ankle injury and unlikely to be fit despite his return to training this week. Divock Origi, who played 10 minutes for Belgium in their 6-1 victory over Cyprus in midweek, will take his place in the side.
Left-back Andy Robertson is also dealing with an ankle knock meaning he too is set to miss this weekend’s fixture. James Milner is likely to deputise in the Scot’s absence.
Virgil van Dijk missed the Netherlands’ 5-0 win against Estonia for personal reasons, but the talismanic centre-back will be available to start in South London.
Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez both missed England’s victory over Kosovo and the pair are doubts for trip down south. Xherdan Shaqiri returned to training this week but is unlikely to be involved.
Roy Hodgson will have the services of star man Wilfried Zaha available, despite the forward suffering a foot injury during their defeat at Chelsea two weeks ago. Zaha has yet to score in 12 appearances but will start alongside Palace’s top scorer Jordan Ayew, who has four goals this campaign.
Joel Ward was also forced off at Stamford Bridge, with the right-back set to be replaced by Martin Kelly in the eleven. Long-term absentees Mamadou Sakho and Connor Wickham remain sidelined.
Former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke will be looking to kick-start his season against his old side; the Belgian is yet to find the net but could play a role coming off the bench.
Hodgson will also be facing his former club, having spent five months in charge of the Reds in 2010, and will be looking to add to his three previous wins against them in his managerial career.
Liverpool have won their last four meetings with the Eagles, including a 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park early last season. Palace were the last club to win a league match at Anfield, defeating the Reds 2-1 in April 2017, but last won the reverse fixture back in November 2014, two second half goals securing a 3-1 win.
Perhaps their most famous meeting came in May of that same year, when Palace, then managed by Tony Pulis, fought back from three goals down to earn a 3-3 draw, with Dwight Gayle scoring a late brace.
Klopp’s Reds will be hoping to avoid a similar outcome this time as they look to lay down a marker ahead of the weekend’s big game between Manchester City and Chelsea, which kicks off at 5.30pm on the same day.
Selhurst Park photo by Patrick via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC 2.0.
The end came with Manchester United 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool and closer to the relegation zone than the top of the Premier League.
After an emphatic 3-1 defeat by their old rivals at Anfield on Sunday, United finally sackedJose Mourinho as manager.
Having joined in May 2016, the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss led them to League Cup and Europa League success, and into the last 16 of this season’s Champions League.
Mourinho had lived at the Lowry Hotel since his appointment – perhaps a sign that he never truly believed he was at Old Trafford for the long haul.
Growing criticism of United’s style of play and endless tales of the Portuguese falling out with leading players, including record signing Paul Pogba, combined with poor results to seal his fate.
Despite spending nearly £400m on 11 players since he was first appointed, Mourinho let it be known that he felt let down by the club in terms of recruitment.
‘Whoever comes in will be charged with restoring United’s tradition of attack football’
However, many critics and fans argued that United’s local rivals Manchester City have spent roughly the same to much greater effect.
Whilst they weigh up their options, the United hierarchy have appointed former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager for the rest of the season.
Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino, Laurent Blanc and Leonardo Jardim are just a few of the names in the frame. Some pundits believe that Blanc, who played under Sir Alex Ferguson towards the end of his career, could be the man to bring the best out of French star Pogba and compatriot Anthony Martial.
Whoever comes in will be charged with restoring United’s tradition of attack football. Furthermore, with Mourinho, gone key players such as Martial and De Gea are now more likely to sign new contracts.
Another mostly lacklustre, disjointed display in the defeat at Anfield proved to be the final straw for owners the Glazer family and the club’s board.
Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to hammer the final nail in Mourinho’s coffin with two deflected goals as Liverpool ran out easy victors.
Sadio Mane opened the scoring with a great volley after his cleverly timed run was picked out by an accurate lofted ball from Fabinho in the 24th minute.
Liverpool had dominated the game up to that point and deserved the lead.
However, an error by goalkeeper Alisson gave United an undeserved chance before the break when he spilled Romelu Lukaku’s seemingly unthreatening cross into the path of Jesse Lingard who, in fairness, did well to follow it up.
After the break, United looked much more fluid and compact. They were starting to frustrate Liverpool, who resorted to shooting from distance.
Afterwards, Mourinho said: ‘In the moment when the game was going down, Liverpool’s intensity was dying, the centre-backs were shooting from 30-40 metres because they could not find spaces in a dangerous area.”
Thus, Klopp then sent on the maverick number 10 Shaqiri to try and find those spaces, and there was a bit of luck about both of his goals. But on balance, it was nothing more than Liverpool deserved.
When the scores were tied at 1-1 it was a tale of two approaches. Mourinho opted to bring on a central defensive midfielder in Marouane Fellaini at half-time, whilst Klopp brought on Shaqiri to chase the win.
Incidentally, Liverpool substitutes have now scored eight goals this season. Those substitutions summed up the managers at the moment.
Mourinho, who hadn’t tasted defeat at Anfield since 2007, was in a fairly gracious mood after the game.
“They [Liverpool] are fast, they are intense, they are aggressive, they are physical. They play 200 miles per hour with and without the ball. I am still tired just looking at [Andy] Robertson. He makes 100m sprints every minute, absolutely incredible.
‘Robertson, Mane, Salah, Wijnaldum, Keita, Fabinho: they are physical players and on top of that they are good players technically. I have lot of good players technically but we don’t have lots of players with that intensity, that physicality, so when the game has high levels of intensity it is difficult for us.’
Mourinho had previously promised the board he’d be fourth in the table by Christmas, but last week he backtracked on that prediction, saying it was impossible.
Although United fans have largely been patient with ‘The Special One’, many found this an unacceptable state of affairs for a team who finished second last season and spent £72.5m (Fred £52m; Dalot £19m and Lee Grant £1.5m) in the summer.
With their title hopes long gone, and having been knocked out the EFL Cup by Derby County, Mourinho had a relatively easy home tie against Reading in the FC Cup third round coming up in the new year.
However, the draw for the Champions League knockout stages was less kind and saw United pitted against French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, which just about summed up Mourinho’s week.
Normally, teams under Mourinho are renowned for not conceding too many goals, but this season United’s leaky defence have already conceded 29 which is more than the whole of last campaign.
Furthermore, it wasn’t just the fact that they conceded lots – it’s the fact they have been utterly dominated too often.
‘At Inter, he once looked forward to a Champions League tie at Old Trafford, saying “I want to destroy United”. Unfortunately for their fans, Mourinho has pretty well done just that’
At Anfield, they only registered six shots in the whole game, whilst Liverpool managed to muster 36.
When Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto, he raved that his team were amazing at regaining possession, comparing them to mad dogs with a big bite.
At Real Madrid, he hailed his players’ clinical counter attacking, whilst at Inter he boasted how they could defend for five straight hours without conceding.
None of the above applied at United, where Mourinho generally seemed more determined to throw his players under the bus than praise them.
Whilst with Inter, he once looked forward to a Champions League tie at Old Trafford, saying: ‘I want to destroy United.’
Unfortunately for United fans, Mourinho has pretty well done just that – but whilst sitting in the Old Trafford hot seat – and walks away with £22m for his troubles.
There is a distinct feeling not only that any new deal will be a contract too far for Arsene Wenger, but also – sadly – that he is beginning to resemble a dying relative.
Wenger has become a shell of his former self. He is undoubtedly Arsenal’s most impactful and most celebrated manager. But his legitimacy has been irrevocably damaged by years of failing to identify and address weaknesses and being unable to adapt to the changes in contemporary football.
You begin to feel his weight on the club as he sits in the dugout with his head in his hands. He has become a financial and footballing burden on Arsenal, with fans realising that there is now no other way to for him to leave than for him to be forced out.
Pity has become the overriding emotion at The Emirates, with fans in increasing numbers now desperate for the Arsenal boss to go so as he is able to salvage what is left of his legacy.
Like the fans at matches, Wenger appears miserable and unable to inspire or be inspired by his team. We all know he is hurting; his expressions on the touchline and post-match interviews tell us this.
But what is perhaps even more worrying is the mockery being made of the demands placed upon modern football managers by the Arsenal board.
Yes, the ‘hire em and fire em’ culture that has enveloped the game in recent years is quite extraordinary. Most football fans believe that their clubs do not show enough loyalty to managers, opting for short bursts of success over long-term project building.
“Sometimes swift, decisive change can instigate an upturn in form and the change of climate at a club that is desperately needed”
But from Wenger’s case, we can learn a lot about the pitfalls of pursuing the exact opposite policy: of idolising a manager, ceasing to apply pressure on him, and allowing him to decide when and how he leaves.
Just a few weeks ago, we were given a particularly cruel demonstration of football’s impatience at Leicester. Claudio Ranieri, a history-maker and record-breaker, was forced out by the players he had lost and by an unforgiving chairman.
But, callous though it was, the sacking proved beneficial to results on the pitch. The transformation of Leicester’s players has been really quite remarkable, especially given the significance that their former manager had in building the players and turning them into household names. Many were previously average and unknown.
What we are beginning to deduce is that, sometimes swift, decisive change can instigate an upturn in form and the change of climate at a club that is desperately needed.
Wenger, quite unlike Leicester’s chairman, is markedly more conservative, opting to keep around him favoured, loyal coaching staff and making subtle adjustments to the squad, both in terms of tactical organisation and transfers.
“The impatient, fast-paced, money-driven culture that has wrapped itself around modern football could actually be the new ‘stability’”
For years, pundits praised the determination with which Arsenal stuck to its principles. They maintained that the club was an example to others who perhaps were a little too trigger-happy when it came to firing managers.
This adoration has wavered somewhat, especially this season. Now they talk about Wenger in a much more resigned way, after finally subscribing to my long-held view that stability can no longer be expressed in the way that Arsenal think it can be, and that Wenger ought to step aside in order for the club to adapt and move forward.
It is poignant, for instance, that Wenger’s greatest years came when he himself was the source of change in the Premier League, and not in the years that he remained rigidly focused on his values, allowing himself to be bypassed and out-competed.
The impatient, fast-paced, money-driven culture that has wrapped itself around modern football could actually be the new ‘stability’.
Of course, not every club that ditches its manager after a few years of service or halfway through a season will reap the rewards of their decision.
But signs are showing (the sackings of Mourinho at Chelsea and Klopp at Dortmund) that a policy of severing ties with even big-name managers and sending a message that short term under-achievement is not good enough could well prove fruitful.
Wenger’s free rein and effective self-employment at Arsenal is not defying the system as well as his club thinks it might be. Yes, Wenger has doubled share prices at The Emirates, but ultimately the football is what does the talking.
Actually, the message Arsenal’s embarrassingly desperate loyalty towards him shows is one of mockery. I believe that Wenger’s coasting along makes a mockery of the intense demands placed upon football manages in the modern environment.
Football management has changed, and with that, so too has the pressure on managers, who must live up to the fact that their use-by dates are now shorter and the patience of boards similarly so.
The lack of pressure being applied to Wenger is telling on the players, who appear starkly unmotivated and lacking in heart and leadership. The alleged stability that Wenger has provided, during a period that has seen Arsenal leave Highbury, angry protests from fans and a noticeable dilution of expectation and ambition, has been primarily characterised by a fundamental decline, both in terms of trophies and league positioning.
But, as Wenger reminded us in an interview with beIN sports this week, “It isn’t all about trophies.” Well, clearly. But at least Arsenal has its stability…
Ranked amongst the top 10 stand-ups in Britain by The Independent, comedian Ian Stone has flourished to become one of the most talented topical acts in the country.
Currently presenting ‘The Football’s On’ for BT Sport, the north Londoner is a regular on shows like Mock the Week but his lifelong passion is Arsenal. Elephant Sport spoke to him about the highs and lows of being a Gooner, Arsene Wenger and much more.
How did you feel about the last weekend’s north London derby?
It was a fair result. They have some decent attacking players, they hit the post and I thought they played alright particularly in the first half an hour so 1-1 is probably fair.
We were kind of flat but we haven’t been brilliant in most games this season to be honest. We are muddling through.
It’s not the best but we are in it so I’ll take that.
Where do you think Arsenal will finish come the end of the season?
Genuinely – I’ve no idea. We could win it or we could finish third. The race will be between Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and us.
It will be tight. I would like us to be running away with the league but that’s not going to happen so I enjoy the big games.
Anyone can win it, even Spurs – I hate them but they’re a decent team. They have a good squad but ours is better.
Not having European football will benefit Liverpool and Chelsea but none of the teams are defensively good, apart from Spurs, so that’s why I think they are a threat.
Growing up what was the best thing you witnessed as an Arsenal fan?
That’s not an easy question. But if you’re talking about the school years, then seeing Liam Brady for the first time and going ‘wow the way he plays is just beautiful’. I loved him and I still do.
How did you first become interested in Arsenal?
My dad. He just took me to Highbury and I thought ‘yeah this is it, I love this place’. That’s what happens to most of us, isn’t it?
Favourite all-time Arsenal player and why?
Hard to pick one. Brady first, I loved him, and Pat Jennings too. When it was a one on one with the keeper and Jennings was in goal, you thought they were never going to beat him. Tony Adams, because he loved the club as much as I do and Ian Wright for the same reason.
Dennis Bergkamp because he’s probably the best footballer I have ever seen, Thierry Henry because he’s a close second. There’s many, but those players are great players and they loved the club, and as a fan that’s what you want really.
Dennis Bergkamp was a great but comparisons have been made between Mesut Ozil and him – what is your opinion of the German?
Ozil. That goal against Ludogorets. I could watch that goal a million times and I wouldn’t get bored. That second dummy… the bloke is a genius and unlike any footballer I have ever seen. He has a lovely style about him.
When he first arrived, I was a bit disappointed. There were some moments but he didn’t really impose himself in games and you thought ‘you really could win this game on your own if you could be bothered’ but now he’s bulked up a bit and he’s scoring goals.
He’s an outstanding footballer and I’m glad we’ve got him. I love watching him.
Away at Villa last season, he brought the ball down right in front of me and you just thought ‘how did he even do that’? That’s what I love about Ozil. He makes the incredibly difficult look incredibly easy.
Favourite current Arsenal player and why?
Alexis Sanchez. He just loves the game and he loves to play. Alexis is a great footballer. I’m so glad we have got him as it’s a pleasure to watch players like that.
Arsene Wenger is into his 20th season at Arsenal but what is your take on the boss?
Last season I was fed up, we had a great opportunity to win the title, and for all the romance of Leicester winning, we blew it and I blamed Wenger.
Sometimes when he’s signed players like Igor Stepanovs and Marouane Chamakh, I’ve sat there thinking ‘what on earth are you doing?’, but what can you say about the boss?
He creates beautiful football teams and will be remembered long after we’ve all gone as someone who created a style of football. He’s made some mistakes but we all have. He’ll go when he wants to go. I’m certainly not going to call for him to go.
What I would love more than anything is for him to win the Champions League and sign off with that. He deserves it but you know his legacy.
We all sit in the most beautiful of stadiums and that’s all down to him so I have the most positive of feelings towards him.
I’ve not had a 20-year relationship with anyone who hasn’t pissed me off though!
Who would you get as his replacement when he decides to leave?
I wanted Jurgen Klopp but he’s at the right club at Liverpool, they suit him. Anytime we ever talk about a possible replacement, it all goes wrong for them.
Ronald Koeman is a very good manager and we will see what happens despite losing 5-0 to Chelsea on the weekend!
There’s been talk of Diego Simeone but I don’t think he’s right for Arsenal. He needs the fans onside and I think our fans are a little bit different.
We can be aroused but I don’t think we are right for Simeone. We’ll see what happens but I don’t think Arsene is going away for a while yet.
Best goal you have ever witnessed as an Arsenal fan?
Against Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League game at Highbury. Robert Pires was penned in in the corner by three defenders but somehow managed to play a 40-yard pass to Dennis Bergkamp in the centre of the pitch.
He killed it, exchanged passes with Patrick Vieira and he’s away. Bergkamp plays the ball inside the full back to Sylvain Wiltord, who lays it across to Thierry Henry, who’s sprinted 80-yards to side-foot it in.
From one end of the pitch to the other in six seconds – it was the most exhilarating thing I’ve seen Arsenal ever do.
Worst moment as an Arsenal fan?
Losing the Champions League final to Barcelona was bad – I enjoyed the trip to Paris but not the game. Losing the 2000 UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray on penalties was awful.
In the 1980 season, I went to 60 games out of 68, and we lost to West Ham in the FA Cup final, then Valencia in the Cup Winners Cup final and somehow managed to get hammered by Middlesbrough 5-0. That was pretty grim.
Best moment as an Arsenal fan?
Beating Barcelona at the Emirates a few years ago was pretty awesome, and Thierry Henry scoring on his comeback against Leeds United in the FA Cup was special too. I interviewed him for a radio thing and he loved talking about that moment.
How impressed have you been with Alexis Sanchez up front this season?
It’s working. I like the fact that there’s movement when Sanchez is up front. Olivier Giroud is a great sub and you can bring him on and play him in a two but I like the mobility of the team when Sanchez plays.
What have you made of the summer signings of Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka?
Excellent. Two very good signings. We needed spine – we’ve got it now.
How do you feel about the progress that Laurent Koscielny has made over the years to become one of the world’s best defenders?
I think most people realise how good Koscielny is. He’s got better as quite often defenders do so I’m pleased for him and he enjoys being at the club so let him stay as long as he wants!
Which player that left the club hurt you the most?
It killed me losing Patrick Vieira but he wanted to go. I remember him coming on as an 18 year old against Sheffield Wednesday – we were losing and he turned the game. He was a stunning footballer and a fighter and I loved him and Emmanuel Petit together.
How do you see Arsenal fairing throughout the season and could this be Wenger’s final season?
I think if he wins the Premier League or Champions League, I think he will stay. We can win the league but will we? If we get lucky with injuries, we will be there come May, but it’s very tight. Our position in the league is good at the moment – let’s see.
Lastly, how do you feel Arsenal will fair against Manchester United after the international break?
I want to beat them so badly. I’ve not seen Arsenal win many games at Old Trafford but I went to the FA Cup game there when we won 2-1 with Danny Welbeck scoring, and it was absolutely wicked – 9,000 of us there on a Monday night.
What I loved was weeks later, reading that the players had been so happy with the support and the difference it had made. That means a lot to the fans. I love winning at Old Trafford, so hopefully we will.
I’d love us to have a run in the Champions League too. I want us to finish first in the group and give ourselves a chance because if we do that, the second leg of the next round will be at home and that’s huge.
It’s a long time since we went far in Europe and if we got to the semis and do well in the League, Ozil and Sanchez will stay and we can continue to improve. We’re doing all right at the moment, I’m enjoying it so let’s continue!
Liverpool and England right-back Nathaniel Clyne make his professional debut for Crystal Palace in October 2008 against Barnsley.
In his four years at Selhurst Park, the full-back made 122 appearances and was named Young Player of the Year before his move to Southampton in 2012.
On the south coast, he was a key figure in Saints success under both under both Nigel Adkins and Mauricio Pochettino, earning him a £12.5m move to Liverpool in the summer of 2015.
Stockwell-born Clyne, 24, is known for his smart, incisive passing and pace down the right flank. In November 2014, he made his international debut against Slovenia in a 3-1 victory and has earned nine caps to date.
At Anfield, he slotted straight into the first team and, although signed by previous manager Brendan Rodgers, has continued to progress under new boss Jurgen Klopp.
Nathaniel took time out to answer some quick-fire question for Elephant Sport:
What’s a typical morning like for you? Wake up, have breakfast, go into training.
What’s your breakfast of preference? Ham and cheese omelette and one slice of thick brown toast
When you’re not playing football what are your hobbies? Shopping, cinemas, Xbox, going to concerts and events.
You’re at your third top-flight club now what would you say are the biggest differences between the three clubs/cities/fans? London lifestyles quicker than Liverpool and Southampton. All clubs are pretty much the same, family clubs and the fans are passionate. Being at Liverpool, you notice the size of the club by how many fans they have around the globe in places like Asia, Australia and America
In the past two years you’ve become arguably one the best full backs in the league what do you think that’s down to? Keeping up consistently good performances, keeping fit, staying away from injury and keeping a hunger for the game.
What has been your proudest moment to date as a footballer? Making my debut for England senior team.
Klopp seems very animated on the touchline: what’s your take on him as a manager and his style of coaching? How does it differ from other managers you’ve played under such as Brendan Rodgers, Mauricio Pochettino and Neil Warnock? He’s very charismatic always smiling and cracking jokes. He brings confidence for the team to go out and express ourselves.
With Euro 2016 looming you’re in contention to be on the plane with England – what would you consider to be a success at the tournament? Success for me would be to get called up for the Euros and to get into the starting line-up. As for the team, it would be to do our best in the tournament and try to win it!
Follow Nathaniel Clyne on Twitter @Nathaniel_Clyne and on Instagram