Liverpool-Crystal Palace Preview

·3 min read

Jurgen Klopp claims he was "wide-eyed" when he found out he had won the FIFA Best Award for best manager.

Klopp scooped the prize for the second year running, seeing off competition from Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa and Bayern Munich's treble-winning coach Hansi Flick.

Liverpool won the Premier League last season, finishing 18 points clear of second-place Manchester City, and lead the way again this term thanks to a last-gasp win over Tottenham last time out.

However, ahead of Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace, Klopp revealed his surprise at pipping Flick to the award.

"I'm grateful for it, obviously," he said. "From the first moment, like everybody else, I was looking at it a bit wide-eyed. I didn't expect it. I thought Hansi Flick won pretty much everything in the last year. Now with four different categories, more managers and players voted for me. The media and fans, more for Hansi Flick which I get completely – in the end it's not my choice.

"I'm happy for it, it's a special thing for my coaches and me, I saw them already, they are buzzing. We'll take an award like this, there's more important things in the world but it's a nice one."

Liverpool face a Palace side unbeaten in three games, with the Eagles having held Spurs to a 1-1 draw in their last home match, and Roy Hodgson has been delighted with the attacking threat his team are showing.

"The way we're trying to play and the way we're playing is the way we're always trying to play," he said. "I do think, at the moment, in the last three games our attacking play has been particularly potent. We're getting good reward for the efforts the players put in on the training field to improve their combinations and their understanding. We're getting some joy from it."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Crystal Palace – Eberechi Eze

Signed from Queens Park Rangers in the close season, Eze has become a key player for Palace. He has created two goals and scored one himself in the league, and Klopp was full of praise, labelling the youngster "a talented boy".

Liverpool – Sadio Mane

Liverpool forward Mane heads into Saturday's clash without a goal in his last eight league games. However, he has scored in each of his last six Premier League meetings with Palace – only three players have ever scored in more consecutive appearances against a specific opponent in the competition.

KEY OPTA FACTS

• Liverpool have won each of their last five Premier League away games against Crystal Palace – only against Norwich City and Aston Villa have they won more consecutively on the road in the competition.

• The Reds have won their final league match before Christmas in three of their last four seasons (D1) since a 0-3 defeat against Watford in December 2015.

• Palace have kept just one clean sheet in their last 21 Premier League matches, a 1-0 win over Southampton in their first game of 2020-21. Their current 12-game run without a shutout is their worst since a 14-game run between May and November 2017.

• Liverpool are winless in their last five away league games (D4 L1), drawing each of their last four in a row. They last went six matches without a league win on the road in January 2011, while the Reds last drew five such games in succession back in December 1991 under Graeme Souness.

• In 21 Premier League appearances in December, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has scored 17 goals and assisted a further nine, averaging a goal or assist every 66 minutes. It is his best goal involvement ratio in any month in which he has played more than one game.