Liverpool’s campaign of crisis plunged to new depths on Tuesday evening when they suffered their biggest-ever European defeat at home in a humbling 5-2 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League. With their pride wounded, the Reds need to dust themselves down for a tricky test against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in today’s late kick-off in the Premier League.
The Eagles have yet to post their first victory of 2023, though to break their duck for the New Year, Palace will need to find a blueprint to beat Liverpool for the first time since 2017.
Below, I’ve assembled my latest Premier League stats pack which features the inside track on a number of metrics from Crystal Palace and Liverpool’s top flight campaigns to date. Use the info below along with the tips in my Stats Pack Guide to construct savvier bet builders for the game.
Nathan Ferguson and Sam Johnstone are both still sidelined for Crystal Palace, though Tyrick Mitchell should be fine to feature after a minor scare, while Wilfried Zaha has a chance to make the cut after making a return to full training on the eve of the contest.
Jeffrey Schlupp, Eberechi Eze, Jordan Ayew and Michael Olise will battle it out for two of the four furthest forward spots in the Palace XI, while Will Hughes and Albert Sambi Lokonga will contest a berth in midfield beside Cheick Doucoure.
With Ibrahima Konate’s fitness in question, Joel Matip could partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence today, while Naby Keita could slot into midfield for the overused youngster Stefan Bajectic if Jurgen Klopp decides to freshen things up.
Diogo Jota and Robert Firmino will hope to start having come off the bench in midweek, though Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah seem certain to retain their spots in Liverpool’s three-man attack, with Cody Gakpo possibly the one to miss out.
Crystal Palace have gone eight games without tasting victory since January first, though their run of four draws in their last five assignments does at least point to a doggedness that should come in useful today.
The Eagles’ most flattering statistics are found in defensive areas this season and their goals and shots on target against figures per 90 are comparable to Liverpool’s. Only Fulham (60) have picked up more cards than Palace since August (55) however, and they are even money to collect more of them than Liverpool today.
Liverpool had pulled up their socks a bit with successive Premier League victories over Everton and Newcastle, however, their defensive disaster class against Real Madrid might have taken their confidence back down a few notches.
The Reds are still creating plenty in attack, as evidenced by their strong showing in the shots, shots on target and xG for departments, however, they still rank bottom half for xG against, and they allowed ten-man Newcastle to create far too many chances against them last week, despite their eventual win. That leakiness has held Liverpool back on the road in particular, where they have dropped points in eight out of 11 assignments.
Player shots and shots on target
Only four clubs have been averaging fewer shots on target per game than Crystal Palace in the Premier League this season and their underperformance in that metric is reflected in the stats that their players have posted individually.
It makes more sense to forget about accuracy and sift through options in the general shot markets for Palace, where Michael Olise looks like an interesting candidate. The set-piece specialist is 10/11 to lodge two or more attempts this evening, just as he did in five of his last six Premier League starts at Selhurst Park.
With Roberto Firmino’s involvement sporadic, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah are more deserving of your focus today, and that goal-threatening pair are both available at even money to clock two or more shots on target at Selhurst Park.
When Liverpool drew 1-1 with Palace earlier in the campaign at Anfield, Nunez and Salah racked up eight shots between them, which accounted for a third of Reds’ entire output in attack on the day. Nunez also appeals at 9/4 to have at least one strike on target in each half today.
Player goals and assists
Crystal Palace are crying out for a natural goal-scorer in the final third, however, in the absence of a reliable centre-forward, attacking midfielders Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise have rolled their sleeves up, providing seven goal contributions each.
Olise is in better recent form than Eze, chipping in with one goal and three assists in his last seven Premier League starts. The 21-year-old also ranks top of the pile for Palace for expected assists per 90 (0.25) and the ex-Reading man is available at 21/10 to either score or create a goal later on.
Mohamed Salah has been quietly building an impressive goal tally across all competitions this season and the Egyptian’s effort against Real Madrid in midweek was his 19th strike of the campaign so far.
The 30-year-old – who has bagged five of his eight Premier League goals in away games this term – has notched eight goals against Palace during his prolific career with the Merseysiders and that outstanding record makes him a snip at 7/5 to register again today. Darwin Nunez meanwhile, who has either scored or made a goal in each of his last three appearances, can be backed at 4/5 to either score or assist again at Selhurst Park.
Only five clubs in the Premier League have seen less of the ball per game on average than Crystal Palace in 2022/23 (44%) and the Eagles are almost certain to be chasing the ball instead of passing it for large swathes of this evening’s contest.
Classy Danish defender Joachim Andersen (58.6) and his central defensive foil Marc Guehi (54.4) have been posting decent passes per 90 figures this season, though they are as tight as 3/10 and 1/5 to beat a 50 pass target today, which might be too big an ask for both.
Liverpool rank as the second-most proficient team at keeping possession in the league behind Manchester City and the Reds dictated play for 72.6% of the game when they last faced Palace in August, despite playing the final half an hour with ten men.
A lot tends to flow through Virgil van Dijk (72.7 passes p/90) at centre-half and through Trent Alexander-Arnold (69.7) and Andrew Robertson (62.9) down the flanks for the Reds, and there is value on offer for all three in the 70+ passes market today. Van Dijk can be backed there at 4/6, Alexander-Arnold at 6/5 and Robertson at 5/2.
Crystal Palace cards
Cheick Doucoure is an imposing presence in midfield for Palace and alongside collecting more cards than any other Eagles player this term, the 23-year-old is a reliable performer in the foul market, especially at Selhurst Park, where the Malian has committed at least two in seven of his last nine appearances at that venue.
Doucoure looks very backable at 10/11 to commit two more fouls today, while Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell – who should have plenty of defending to do – could be neat docket fillers at 4/6 and 2/9 to commit just one foul each.
Darwin Nunez has been fouled 0.89 times per 90 in the Premier League this season and the fiery Uruguayan should enjoy the physical exchange with Marc Guehi today. On the right wing, Mohamed Salah (fouled 0.78 times p/90) has the technical skillset to test Tyrick Mitchell’s discipline.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho could be among those to feel the full force of Cheick Doucoure’s fury when Palace and Liverpool wrestle for control in the middle of the pitch.
Match-Ups to watch
Cheick Doucoure vs Jordan Henderson/Fabinho
Marc Guehi vs Darwin Nunez
Tyrick Mitchell vs Mohamed Salah
Liverpool are adept at committing the “small fouls” that allow them to break up play without drawing too much ire from match officials, so it’s probably wiser to use their players as foul rather than card options today.
Darwin Nunez has been committing 1.21 fouls per 90 in the league this season and the agitable centre-forward is excellent value at 4/9 to leave one on his marker today. Fabinho, who has given away at least two free kicks in three of his last five starts in the EPL, could be a tasty option at even money to concede at least two more today.
Trent Alexander-Arnold caught my attention at 3/10 to commit one foul, which seems a modest target for any defender marking expert free kick-winner, Jordan Ayew.
Several of Crystal Palace’s operators in the final third are potent dribblers and ball carriers, and their love for taking on markers in one-on-one situations can often rack up the fouls in their favour.
Jordan Ayew (fouled 2.84 times per 90) and Eberechi Eze (1.94) are of particular interest today against Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho, with both match-ups pitting regularly fouled attackers against opponents known for mistimed tackles.
Elsewhere, there is a high chance that Marc Guehi (1.05) will trade blows and fouls with Darwin Nunez when the combative pair lock horns later on.
Match-Ups to watch
Fabinho vs Eberechi Eze
Darwin Nunez vs Marc Guehi
Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Jordan Ayew
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
When putting together this stats pack, I couldn’t help but turn my eyes to the bookies markets and find some good value bet builder selections. Below are four of them that you could load into your betslip at some decent looking odds – £5 returns £28, £20 returns £56.
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
If you need reminding, when Palace met Liverpool in the league earlier in the season, Joachim Andersen riled up Nunez to the point he was sent off for a headbutt.
Nunez made one foul in that game and will be back with a vengeance, with Andersen’s job likely being the exact same.
Darwin Nunez averages 1.21 fouls p/90.
He embodies the South American grit, and has made at least 1 foul in each of his last 3 matches in all competitions.
That includes 2 a piece against Newcastle and Real Madrid most recently.
Doucoure is more of a traditional player to back for a foul, and no other Palace player has received more cards than he has (7).
He makes 1.35 fouls p/90 and has the job of enforcing the midfield against Stefan Bajectic.
The young Spaniard draws 1.58 fouls p/90 and attempts 2.63 dribbles.
Doucoure will also have the responsibility of cutting out any pacy Liverpool counters, and will be forced to bring down the likes of Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, and Mo Salah on the break.
Liverpool love a corner. They’ve averaged 6.68 of them per game.
You may think that drops off on their travels, but they still average 6.18 corners away from home.
Given Palace average just 44% possession, you can expect most of the play to be in Palace’s defensive third.
With Trent (157) ranking 4th for crosses in the league, and Robertson (120) ranking 9th from the other flank, you can expect their early crosses to be knocked out for corners if they’re slotted in behind.
Palace average a huge 2.43 cards in their direction, compared to Liverpool’s 1.18.
Only Fulham (59) have received more cards than Palace (53).
At evens, this screams value for the referee to brandish more cards in the home teams’ vicinity.
In their last 6, only in their games vs United did they receive less cards than their opposition. And worth noting that United are also amongst the 3 serial offenders.
Last time the two sides met, Palace received 4 cards to Liverpool’s 3, and that includes Nunez’s rash decision to get sent off.