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Crystal Palace-Liverpool Preview

AP - Sports

If necessity is the mother of invention then Liverpool have discovered their creative side in the opening weeks of this Premier League campaign.

Shorn of major talents through injury and suspension, the Reds have still sprinted out of the blocks to their best league start since the 2008-09 season when they finished second.

No sooner had Luis Suarez returned from a ten-match suspension than a slew of key injuries mitigated a change in system to the 3-5-2 which will likely be employed by manager Brendan Rodgers for the visit of Crystal Palace to Anfield on Saturday.

"The players have carried it out really well in the last couple of games," Rodgers told the club's official website. "It can be a system that works for us, but what doesn't change is our idea of the game, how we want to pass, how we want to be aggressive in our attack. It gives us numbers going forward, which is important.

"It's another system that the players have shown we can play. With more play and more development, it's one that we can flip to quite easily. It's wherever you can get superiority in the game. If I look at Daniel (Sturridge) and Luis Suarez, they are both nine-and-a-halves. They are not straight up and down strikers, they like to move and get in between."

Glen Johnson, Aly Cissokho and Joe Allen are unlikely to be available for the visit of Palace but Rodgers is hopeful they will be fit in time to face Newcastle United after the upcoming international break. Philippe Coutinho and Sebastian Coates remain longer-term injury absentees and Lucas Leiva is out on Saturday after being suspended for yellow card accumulation.

Crystal Palace (1-0-5) enter the game on a run of three straight 2-0 defeats and have won only once in their opening six Premier League fixtures - and that was against bottom club Sunderland.Despite this Rodgers is still expecting a tough test from the visitors.

"We know it will be a really difficult game," he said. "We've got to treat it like a cup final and work very hard. If we can do that, hopefully our quality comes through.

"Our reaction has been very good. We played well in a couple of games and got the result in the last one. The atmosphere at Anfield has been brilliant for us this year."

The reality of life back in the Premier League is starting to hit home for Palace. Not only are they struggling to find points, generating any sort of sustained attack has proved a bridge too far this campaign.

Manager Ian Holloway's men have gone 270 minutes without a league goal and are on a streak of 205 minutes without a shot on target away from Selhurst Park.

"This division is so harsh and so hard," Holloway told the club website. "Getting used to it and believing you can play in it can be difficult. We haven't improved quick enough or early enough and we look like we need a goal."

Liverpool (4-1-1) have been quick of the mark this season. Seven of their eight league goals have been scored before the 40th minute mark.

Palace's record league defeat was a 9-0 beating at Anfield in September 1989, but they did bundle the Reds out of the FA Cup in the 2002-03 season.

Palace and Liverpool have met on league duty only twice in the last 15 years, during the Eagles' last top-flight campaign in 2004-05. Andy Johnson scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park while Milan Baros grabbed a hat trick, including a stoppage-time penalty, for Liverpool in their 3-2 win at Anfield in the return fixture.

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