Are Liverpool going to win the Premier League title this season? The two mitigating words against that happening are probably “Manchester” and “City” although there’s little doubting that Jurgen Klopp is moving this squad in the sort of direction where a domestic crown is looking a question of when rather than if.
A cursory glance at the Reds bench for Sunday’s 4-0 drubbing of West Ham United was a case in hand. Last season, Liverpool’s German coach was often denied the right sort of options to change a game whereas there were plenty of aces in the hole against the Hammers including Xherdan Shaqiri, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Fabinho.
There was also Daniel Sturridge who managed to score with his first touch after coming on as substitute and it would be an unexpected bonus if the former England striker was able to score some important goals for his club this season. He’s second favourite in the odds to score here at 4/1.
Salah Already Looking Strong
The starting XI looked awesome against West Ham, with Mohamed Salah carrying on where he left off last season by scoring the opener before Sadio Mane chipped in with two goals to take the game away from the visitors. Roberto Firmino continues to play the unselfish forward role and there was enjoyment to be derived from the performance of Naby Keita.
It’s been a long wait for Liverpool supporters to see the midfielder in action although his dynamic performance was a clear illustration of why Klopp was prepared to bide his time before the African player arrived from Leipzig to make his debut.
Monday night’s assignment at Selhurst Park should be a good deal tougher for the Reds, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson likely to be tested in the full-back positions by a lively pair of wingers in Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha.
Zaha, 9/1 for First Goalscorer at Ladbrokes, was the subject of much transfer speculation over the summer although an early transfer deadline means that the Ivory Coast international can now focus on his football with Crystal Palace and he could prove to be a tricky customer in this clash.
Crystal Palace Enjoy Good Start
The Eagles enjoyed a flying start after winning 2-0 at Craven Cottage and the victory over Fulham shouldn’t be underestimated considering they were away to one of the Premier League new boys who had several new faces lining up in front of a packed crowd.
Roy Hodgson did have a brief spell as Liverpool manager and got a fairly raw deal from the fans on Merseyside during that time, although there is plenty of adulation from the massed ranks of Palace supporters who will create lots of noise for the arrival of this Premier League title contender.
A lot will come down to the battle of the midfield, with Luca Milivojevic and James McArthur likely to have their hands full against Keita and Gini Wijnaldum, although Klopp might regard Henderson as a more effective operator in front of the back four and it will be interesting to see the Liverpool shape.
The Reds front three are simply sublime and explains why the visitors are strong favourites to win the match, although we’d probably err towards backing a high-scoring encounter rather than the away victory. This is essentially a free hit for Palace against one of the division’s top teams and their confidence levels will be high after beating Fulham.