We travel to Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon as Premier League football returns following the international break. A week which was supposed to see a fully fit Daniel Sturridge return to action but it appears that the Liverpool forward has picked up another thigh injury to rule him out of the match.
It is very sorry times for Brendan Rodgers. It has been very evident that we’ve missed Sturridge in his absence since September and was the last position we needed any injuries after the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the summer. It has also been rumoured that Mario Balotelli is struggling to be fit in time for the trip against Neil Warnock’s men which will leave us desperately short upfront. Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert will be our only recognised strikers which puts further pressures on the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling to deliver.
Sterling is our top goal scorer on 3 Premier League goals whilst the next highest contribution is own goals. Selhurst Park didn’t prove a happy ground for us last year as we spurned a 3-0 lead to somehow draw 3-3 with a late Dwight Gale hat trick that confirmed the Premier League trophy wouldn’t be heading to Anfield effectively.
This time around it is about getting our season back on track after a dismal 2 wins from our last 8. Defeat will mean three on the bounce after consecutive defeats to Newcastle United and Chelsea a fortnight ago. Another poor statistic whilst I’m being extremely negative is the fact we haven’t won at Palace in our last 5 attempts, losing three and drawing twice including that performance at the end of last season. Palace also have the highest percentage of goals from set pieces this season which doesn’t bode well for our defence which has got significantly worse than last season despite the money spent on Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo.
It makes the decision to allow Daniel Agger to leave a more questionable one and it has also put into debate whether Kolo Toure should be recalled after a very impressive display against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. We’ve conceded a hefty 18 goals in the Premier League so far and that includes just 1 clean sheet. That combined with our strikers not quite firing on all cylinders makes our efforts to emulate last season’s success a particularly tricky one.
Let’s move onto the positive news. We’re facing a side just out of the drop zone on goal difference and Palace have also only won 1 out of their last 6 matches. They’ve won just once all season at home against Leicester City back in September. It is rather apparent that Crystal Palace aren’t quite as solid as they were under Tony Pulis which will be a welcome relief for Rodgers who must be preying his side can do the business on Sunday. Thankfully there are only a couple of teams who can overtake us on the Saturday as West Brom and Sunderland both face tricky away fixtures.
3 points could take us back up to 7th ahead of Manchester United but we would rely on those above us dropping points. Although Daniel Sturridge is rumoured to have suffered a similar thigh problem to the first occurrence, the duration of the injury is still awaiting further scans for definite confirmation. Rodgers will no doubt be losing patience with his star centre forward who has now been injured for the past 10 weeks. We certainly need either Fabio Borini or Rickie Lambert to step up to the plate and deliver a sterling performance to bring the 3 points back to Anfield.