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.
PalaceforLife is a charitable foundation set up by Crystal Palace FC to help change the lives of young people from South London via sport. PFL’s disability manager Michael Harrington gives Elephant Sport an insight into its work.
Tell us a bit more about PalaceforLife: how and when did it start?
The Palace for Life foundation has been working with the South London community for over 25 years. We exist to leverage the power of football and the Crystal Palace FC brand to change the lives of young people across South London, particularly the most hard-to-reach and hard-to-help.
We work with over 13,000 people each year, inspiring them to find a better path and to lead a healthier life. We cover a broad spectrum, from football sessions for young people with a disability, to delivering engaging assemblies and workshops in local schools and colleges.
Targeting young people in areas of deprivation, we offer free sessions in sport and other activities, alongside pastoral support, to instil positive values and help prepare our participants for a better life.
We have strong connections within the local community and businesses and run programmes designed to equip young people with the skills they need to start thinking about their future careers.
We believe that everyone matters, irrespective of their background and beliefs, and by giving extra support to the most vulnerable, we will help create a better community and society.
How long have you been with the Foundation, and what does your work involve?
I have been at the foundation for about 15 years. I am a UEFA B Licence football coach and currently head up our Disability Programmes.
This involves delivering some football coaching sessions myself, managing a small team of full and part-time employees, overseeing our wide and diverse weekly delivery schedule and developing new and existing partnerships with like-minded organisations who can have a real impact on the lives of people with a disability.
What are the most rewarding and satisfying parts of your job?
Working in a sector where everybody is trying to do the right thing to make people’s lives better, and the variety of people that I come in contact with on a daily basis.
Why is it important to Crystal Palace FC to make a positive impact on its local communities?
Being part of Crystal Palace FC and the Premier League, we are in a unique place to harness the ‘Power of Palace’, combined with the immense benefits that sport can bring to everybody’s lives.
These include improvements in physical fitness, self-esteem and confidence, reducing isolation and educating people around the importance of e
ating well, working hard and establishing core values such as honesty, fair play and teamwork.
Do the club’s players and coaching staff get involved in the work of the foundation?
Yes, players and staff make regular appearances not only as inspirational guests at our delivery sessions in schools, colleges and local sports centres, but also at our staff development days like [manager] Roy Hodgson did in July.
Today’s elite footballers get labelled as greedy and selfish; is this unfair, and do the Palace players do their best to help with your activities?
Yes, I think this is unfair. The players do a lot of good locally within the community that often goes unnoticed.
This can vary from making financial contrbutions to local projects – for example [goalkeeper] Julian Speroni buying two sports power-chairs for our wheelchair football team – to other players turning up unannounced to support weekly football training sessions for young people.
What kind of projects and initiatives does the foundation help to fund?
We have the following impairment specific groups and a few of these have a football team attached to them: Powerchair, Down’s Syndrome, Mental Health, Learning/Intellectual Disabilities, Vision Impaired.
We also run an schools programme that either delivers PE lessons throughout the year or we have a specialist six-week plus mini-festival programme targeted at new schools and those more inactive to generate an interest in playing football or becoming more sporty.
In terms of the foundation itself, has there been any changes in recent months?
The foundation is always changing to meet the needs of the local communities that it reaches.
The past eight months has seen the start of our Targeted Intervention programmes that aim to build up the resilience of young people at risk of anti-social behaviour and crime, whilst also working with young offenders to restore good mental and emotional health following adverse and challenging situations.
Young people are given educational opportunities and the chance to gain accredited qualifications, as well as learning the importance of healthy behaviours and how their actions affect not only themselves but the local community.
We have also startedthe Work Ready & Prepared (WRAP) programme which combines real-life, meaningful work experience with industry-specific accreditations, and training to prepare young people for the world of work.
This comprehensive 15-week study programme is designed to provide a wide-range of opportunities to practice skills within the workplace for 16-18 year olds.
What do people say about PalaceforLife and what kind of an impact does it have on your team?
We get a lot of positive feedback from those who we come in contact with, but to find out what others really think about us you would need to ask them.
Is the foundation dependent on Palace doing well on the pitch and staying in the Premier League, or is its funding protected?
The Premier League are a large financial contributor to our activities, but we are not wholly dependent on them to enable us to function. Obviously, it is beneficial for Palace to be a PL team, both financially and for the high profile it gives us.
Are you always looking to expand its activities and get more people involved in your programmes?
Yes we are, our aim is to engage with more people who are inactive and do not currently have the opportunity to play any sport.
Does PalaceforLife have any targets for 2019?
To continue to have a positive effect on the lives of young south Londoners.
How would you sum up the PalaceforLife foundation in three words?
Bold, Helpful, Strong.
Feature image courtesy of the PalaceForLife Foundation. Selhurst Park image courtesy of Ajay Suresh; Julian Speroni image courtesy of Richard Fisher, both via Flickr Creative Commons under licence CC BY 2.0.
A rainy afternoon in South London was the setting for a lively 2-2 draw between Crystal Palace and Everton as both sides fought for a victory they desperately needed.
With both hosts and visitors in trouble at the wrong end of the Premier League, a single point suited neither, but defeat would have been unthinkable.
The game began horrendously for Toffees caretaker boss David Unsworth as the hosts were ahead within a minute at Selhurst Park. Palace’s first attack of the game was finished off by James McArthur, who found the net after Ruben Loftus-Cheek had forced Jordan Pickford into an early save.
However, that lead was short-lived as the Evertonians fought back to level matters soon after. Eagles defender Scott Dann fouled Oumar Niasse in the penalty area, and Leighton Baines made no mistake from the spot.
There was a real question mark over whether Niasse was touched at all in this one – and that doubt led to an FA charge for ‘simulation’ in the days following the game.
Wilfried Zaha then put the Eagles back in the driving seat, as he was brilliantly picked out by a cross from Joel Ward, allowing him to roll the ball into an empty net at the far post on 35 minutes.
What then followed was a calamitous piece of Palace defending as Everton were handed their second gift of the day, thanks again Dann and goalkeeperJulian Speroni.
‘Referee Andrew Taylor was booed and jeered off the pitch by the home support after the game, the Palace faithful laying the blame for the dropped points on his shoulders’
The pair nervously exchanged passes before Idrissa Gueye stepped in to intercept, and Niasse took the opportunity with great aplomb, rolling home to put his team back on level terms on the stroke of half time.
There was far less goalmouth action in the second half but it was not for want of trying. Palace dominated throughout but ultimately were not being able to find the key to unlock the Everton door. In fact for all of their possession and attacking intent a key element of the forward line did seem to be missing all day.
A certain Belgian sitting on the bench looked on longingly, and in fact there were a few deliveries again from Ward in the second half that might well have been more of a problem for Pickford if Christian Benteke had been on the pitch.
In the second half, both defences were tightened up and even the eventual late introduction of Benteke, left out of the starting line-up, could not deliver a winner.
Referee Andrew Taylor was booed and jeered off the pitch by the home support after the game, the Palace faithful laying the blame for the dropped points on his shoulders as the full-time whistle blew.
Sitting down for just three minutes to chat to the media, Palace boss Roy Hodgson was irritated by his side’s inability to turn possession into victory.
‘We can discuss it till the cows come home, but the referee gave it as a penalty they took it and they scored it’ – Roy Hodgson
“If you look at the performance over 95 minutes, I believe we played well enough to win the game,” he claimed.
In combative mood, the ex-England manager was then asked whether it was time to turn these dropped points into wins. “Yeah, well how do you do that?” he shot back at his inquisitor, staring into his soul.
When it was suggested it was his job to galvanise his team, Hodgson then asked pointedly: “So what do I actually do then?”
On the issue of the penalty, he said: “I’m pretty certain you’ve asked Dave Unsworth the same question and he’s said it was a foul, and now you’ll ask me and I’ll say it wasn’t.
“We can discuss it till the cows come home, but the referee gave it as a penalty they took it and they scored it.”
When the press conference cameras were switched off, Hodgson turned to journalists and began a small rant, visibly irritated by the way the game had gone.
In fairness to him, many would agree that Loftus-Cheek and Zaha have breathed fresh life into his side.
Unsworth praises team
Everton’s heroics in coming from behind to beat Watford may feel a distant memory, but Unsworth’s credentials as a potential Everton manager may well be enhanced after recent weeks.
A lot of Blues fans will argue that Ronald Koeman failed to get any kind of response during the final weeks of his tenure. At least the team are playing for Unsworth.
He could yet remain in the role, given Everton’s unsuccessful tug-of-war with Watford over Marco Silva.
After the game Unsworth was in fairly good spirits. “They’ve been terrific since the first training session that we came together, up until today’s game. They’ve given me everything and I can tell the Everton fans have given me everything as well.”
Then on the penalty and with the smell of an FA charge in the air, Unsworth understandably took the “I haven’t seen it since and couldn’t see it from where I was sitting” approach.
Only time will tell whether his efforts thus far will be enough for majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright to give him the job on a permanent basis, but the former player continues to stake a claim.