Liverpool v Crystal Palace: Reds can complete the job and make Champions League

Jurgen Klopp’s fast-finishing side can get the better of the Eagles in Roy Hodgson’s final game in charge and secure a place in the top four.

When: Sunday, May 23, 16:00 BST

How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event

Follow the Liverpool v Crystal Palace game in our score centre

Best bets

Liverpool to win 3-0 at 7/1 (bet365)

Liverpool to win 3-1 at 11/1 (bet365)

Thiago Alcantara to score anytime at 9/2 (Paddy Power)

It never worked out for Roy Hodgson during his brief spell in charge at Liverpool.

He's not a popular figure on Merseyside due to that miserable period during 2010/11 but the former England boss would become public enemy number one if he were to deny the Reds a place in the Champions League in his farewell game for Palace.

Palace have ruffled Liverpool's feathers before and a win/draw for the visitors on Sunday would likely see the Reds miss out on a prized top-four finish.

The visitors start the game in 13th spot having won just 12 games out of 37 so far. That includes six on the road although the last five were against Sheffield United, Brighton, Newcastle, West Brom and Fulham.

In other words, they're good at flexing their muscles against the weaker sides but less so against the higher teams.

Away defeats to Leicester, SpursLeeds and Man City since mid-January highlight the point that this particular Palace side have a certain level.

There's also the little matter of their 7-0 loss to Liverpool earlier this season.

Last three meetings

Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool (December 19, 2020)

This could have been a tricky test but, instead, Liverpool went mad and scored an away top-flight win by a margin of seven goals for the first time in their history. It put them five points clear at the top but this was to prove the Reds' peak moment and their form dipped badly over the next few months.

Takumi Minamino set them on the way inside three minutes and they were 3-0 up at the break through further goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Firmino netted again after the break, Jordan Henderson fired home and Mo Salah got in on the act with two late strikes as Liverpool seemed to be holding their own goal-of-the-month competition.

Liverpool 4-0 Crystal Palace (June 24, 2020)

After the inevitable was delayed by the Premier League shutting down during the pandemic, this was the game that took Liverpool to the brink of their first league title in 30 years, a feat confirmed a day later when Manchester City lost at Chelsea.

A performance befitting would-be champions, the Reds went in front via a curling Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick midway through the first half and Salah fired in a second before half-time.

Man-of-the-match Fabinho thumped home a brilliant third after the break and Salah set up Mane with a superb pass to complete the rout, Liverpool finishing the night 23 points clear.

Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool (November 23, 2019)

Liverpool have won their last seven games against Crystal Palace but this was one of the tougher ones.

A sharp finish from Mane put the Reds in front on 49 but Wilfried Zaha looked to have pinched a point for the hosts after slotting home an equaliser with just eight minutes remaining.

But this was a period when Liverpool just kept finding a way and three minutes later Firmino popped up with the winner to make it 12 wins and a draw for the Merseysiders in their first 13 games. It put Jurgen Klopp's men eight points clear at the top.

Head-to-head - last 10 meetings

Liverpool wins: 9

Draws: 0

Crystal Palace wins: 1

Liverpool scored: 29

Crystal Palace scored: 10

Liverpool the league's in-form team

After being pegged back by late equalisers from Leeds (away) and Newcastle (home), Liverpool's Champions League hopes looked desperate.

But their mojo is back. No team has taken more points in the last nine games (23 from 27) and, combined with Leicester's stutters, the mission is almost complete.

Thanks to Klopp's first victory at Old Trafford, Alisson Becker's extraordinary injury-time winner at West Brom and a convincing if hard-fought win at Burnley, Liverpool are back in the top four at just the right time.

Alisson's header looks to be the defining moment of their late burst but they have to finish the job here otherwise it will count for nothing.

The Burnley game smacked of Liverpool saying enough is enough and that there will be no more slip-ups in this most trying of seasons.

In fact, if Chelsea don't win at Aston Villa, Liverpool could end what many have said has been a disastrous title defence in third place. Not so bad overall.

Liverpool's last five results

Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle (Salah)

Liverpool 2-0 Southampton (Mane, Thiago)

Man Utd 2-4 Liverpool (Jota, Firmino 2, Salah)

West Brom 1-2 Liverpool (Salah, Alisson)

Burnley 0-3 Liverpool (Firmino, Phillips, Oxlade-Chamberlain)

Scoreline prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace

There could be a few scares along the way and Liverpool fans may wake up the night before in a cold sweat, picturing Zaha running at Rhys Williams.

But, despite the wobbles, the Reds have actually conceded just three goals in four games with Williams and Nat Phillips paired together, two of those coming at second-placed Manchester United.

They combined for a clean sheet against Southampton in Liverpool's last home game although, to be fair, Palace have scored in each of their last six away matches.

But Palace have shipped eight goals in their last three outings and that's why the hosts should easily outscore them.

We tipped 3-0 and 3-1 against Burnley, landing the former at 15/2, and I'm going to play those same two scorelines on Sunday at 7/1 and 11/1 respectively, both at bet365.

Liverpool have been in this position before under Klopp when they had to win on the final day and each time they've passed the test.

I expect no different this time, with Klopp and Hodgson suffering a warm embrace at full-time.

Best Goalscorer bets

Mo Salah is no better than 4/9 to find the net while Sadio Mane (13/10) and Roberto Firmino (6/4) have been inconsistent all season.

Firmino, to be fair, has found his scoring boots on the road but his last Anfield goal came back in December.

I'll therefore roll the dice a little and back Thiago Alcantara at 9/2 with Paddy Power to score anytime.

The classy Spaniard scored in Liverpool's last home game and was within a whisker of adding another at Burnley in midweek.

With Fabinho holding, Thiago is getting forward more and, after a difficult patch, is really starting to show his quality.

A goal on final day would cap his impressive finish to the campaign.

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