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Liverpool Faces Persistent Thorn Crystal Palace as Top-Four Race Winds Down

Crystal Palace looks to deliver another setback to Liverpool, with the Reds hoping to strengthen their top-four standing at Selhurst Park.
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Crystal Palace will host Liverpool on Saturday as they kick off the return of the Premier League after the international break. 

Jürgen Klopp's side will be looking for a victory from the fixture to maintain the pressure on second place competitors Manchester United. However, the Eagles will undoubtedly not make it easy for the Reds as they hope to cause an upset. 

Crystal Palace have proven to be a nightmare for Liverpool in the past, however this time around, with the threat of a relegation battle looming over Palace, Hodgson will hope his side stunts the free-flowing Liverpool team. 

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the clash on Saturday: 

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Classic Encounter 

Crystal Palace have been a thorn in Liverpool's side many times in the past, however never more so than during their 2014 clash at Selhurst Park. Liverpool entered the game with their title hopes remaining strong and their spirits flying high, only for them to come crashing back down to earth after Palace dealt them a title-crushing blow. 

The game appeared to start off in Liverpool's favor as Joe Allen's first Premier League goal for the Reds, and strikes from Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, gave the title challengers a 3-0 lead after 55 minutes. 

However, Liverpool's title hopes were soon left in tatters. Palace sent Selhurst Park wild as they sent Liverpool's fragile defense crumbling with a goal from Damien Delaney and a double from Dwight Gayle, all within just nine minutes.

The Eagles' last minute comeback scuppered the Reds' title chances and left Luis Suarez in tears at the final whistle. 

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Recent Form 

The Eagles went into the international break in fine form after beating bottom table rivals Huddersfield. The victory came in good time as it reassuringly put the side in good stead for the upcoming relegation battle. 

Hodgson's side currently sits in 16th place, just two points ahead of the danger zone. However, Palace have proven to be rather challenging for the sides at the top of the table. 

In a particularly tough run since January, the Eagles have taken on Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, and although they didn't prove to be victorious in those games it wasn't for lack of trying - proving to be a rather tricky side to beat. 

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Liverpool went into the international break on a high after thrashing Watford 5-0, allowing them to continue applying the pressure on Manchester United for second place. Klopp's men seem poised to secure a Champions League spot at the end of the season. 

It must be noted that Liverpool have been beaten only four times so far this season, however all four losses came away from home. Jürgen Klopp will be hoping to not make it a fifth at the weekend. 

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Team News 

Hodgson could face a challenge with his lineup for Saturday as Palace are missing many first team players. Wilfried Zaha will be assessed after being sent home from international duty with a knock but could still feature, while Jeffery Schlupp is ruled out with an ankle injury. 

Meanwhile, Joel Ward, Jason Puncheon and Alexander Sorloth are nearing returns but still look unlikely to appear in the starting XI on Saturday. 

Liverpool are equally suffering from a few injury blows. Joe Gomez fell victim to the international break as he was struck down with an ankle injury whilst on duty for England. And while Nathaniel Clyne is back, it remains unlikely that Klopp will start him so soon after returning. 

Dejan Lovren was another worry last week after the Croatian missed international friendlies against Peru and Mexico due to an ankle knock, while Emre Can looks likely to miss out at the weekend after he withdrew from the Germany squad due to a back problem. 

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Potential Crystal Palace Lineup: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Townsend, Cabaye, Milivojevic, McArthur; Benteke, Zaha.

Potential Liverpool Starting Lineup: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mané.

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Liverpool have been steamrolling through victories against sides lower down the table this season, and, with the magical trio of Salah, Firmino and Mané up front, look in good shape to do so again on Saturday. 

Though while this fluid Liverpool side are favorites to return to Merseyside with the victory, it is no doubt that Palace won't make it easy for them in what is likely to be a closely contested match. 

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-3 Liverpool