Crystal Palace will ride a wave of enthusiasm into their FA Cup fifth round tie at home to in-form Liverpool on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Palace come into the match with five wins, one draw and just one defeat in the seven matches following the appointment of Alan Pardew (pictured) at the turn of the year. They are 13th in the Premier League table, with 27 points from six wins, nine draws and 10 defeats.
The Eagles came back from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Pardew’s former club Newcastle on Wednesday. They were perhaps at little unfortunate not to emerge victorious from a match in which they edged possession, limited Newcastle to just one effort on target and created a couple of good chances themselves, aside from Frazier Campbell’s equaliser.
When he took over from Neil Warnock, Pardew inherited a side who had slipped into the relegation places following a 10-match winless streak. A come-from-behind victory at home to Tottenham Hotspur in his first league match in charge provided an immediate boost to the confidence of players and supporters alike, and has been followed by further good results.
Five league matches is too small a sample from which to draw any kind of definitive conclusion but in those fixtures Palace have improved at both ends of the pitch, leading to an average goal difference per match that is nearly a full goal higher than in the 20 fixtures prior to Pardew’s arrival. Players have spoken about a new positive atmosphere inside the club.
Pardew is highly likely to be without the injured Jerome Thomas (muscle) for this match, while Lee Chung-Yong (leg), Mile Jedinak (ankle) and Scott Dann (head) are all doubtful.
Liverpool travel to London on the back of a strong run of form that has seen them move back into contention for a top-four finish after a poor start to the season. They are seventh in the Premier League table, with 42 points from 12 wins, six draws and seven defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were twice pegged back at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday before a late winner from substitute Mario Balotelli saw them emerge as 3-2 victors at the end of a pulsating encounter. Lazar Markovic and Steven Gerrard (from the penalty spot) had scored early-on into each half, only for Spurs to hit back and equalise both times.
It was Liverpool’s sixth win in their last eight league matches and a result that saw them put further pressure on those ahead of them in the table – including Spurs, who are now just a point ahead of them. After four consecutive clean sheets, their defending did leave a little to be desired, but they carried enough of an offensive threat to eventually take all three points.
Rodgers struggled to incorporate Liverpool’s litany of summer signings into a coherent setup during the early part of the campaign but seems to have hit upon a successful formula in the form of the 3-4-2-1 formation that has precipitated their strong recent results. With Daniel Sturridge now approaching full fitness, they look in good shape for the season’s final stretch.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Jon Flanagan (knee), while Brad Jones (thigh) and Lucas Leiva (groin) are also likely to miss out. Gerrard (hamstring) and Raheem Sterling (foot) are both doubtful but should be fit to take part.
Crystal Palace v Liverpool Betting Tips
Pardew scored the winning goal for the then-second division Palace side who pulled off a major upset to defeat Liverpool 4-3 in the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1990. In more modern times, Palace have won three, lost one and drawn one of their last five home matches against the Reds, including a 3-1 win in November. The record is more even at all venues.
Palace come into the match in high spirits, with the arrival of Pardew having rejuvenated a side who were starting to slip into serious trouble at the bottom of the league table. They have already recorded as many league victories during his short time in charge as they did in the first 20 matches of the campaign and everyone will be fired up for this match.
Liverpool have rediscovered their rhythm over the last couple of months or so and now look like a team capable of mounting a challenge for a top-four finish between now and the end of the season. But with four of the current Premier League top six having already been eliminated, the FA Cup also offers a chance of silverware that they will be keen to take.
There is sure to be a great atmosphere inside Selhurst Park and we believe that Palace are capable of at least taking the tie to a replay.
- Back Crystal Palace +0.5 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 16/19 with BetVictor.
- Four of the seven matches since Pardew took over at Palace have seen three or more goals and while Liverpool have been involved in a number of a low-scoring matches in recent times, the 3-2 win over Spurs showed they can still be drawn into an end-to-end slugfest. Back over 2.5 goals @ best odds of 22/23 with Unibet.