Two teams seeking their first victories of the 2022-23 Premier League season prepare for battle at Anfield on Monday night, as Liverpool play host to Crystal Palace.
The Reds came from behind twice to rescue a 2-2 draw with Fulham on the opening weekend, while Patrick Vieira‘s side were no match for Arsenal in a 2-0 loss.
Not often will you see Virgil van Dijk being bullied on a football pitch, but the nightmare-inducing Aleksandar Mitrovic and his Fulham side were unfortunate not to come out on the correct end of the scoreline against a Liverpool team who were simply not at the races.
Mitrovic towered above Trent Alexander-Arnold to head home Fulham’s first Premier League goal of the season before doubling his tally from the penalty spot after being felled by Van Dijk, but Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah found the back of the net to restore parity for Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp did not hold back in a scathing assessment of his side’s performance last weekend, and the age-old question of whether Liverpool would sign a new midfielder inevitably cropped up as Thiago Alcantara entered the treatment room once again.
A return to home comforts provides Liverpool with a prime opportunity to right the wrongs of gameweek one, as it has been 17 months since the Merseyside giants lost a Premier League game at Anfield – winning 13 of their last 14 in front of the Kop.
Furthermore, not since the 2003-04 season have Liverpool lost their first Premier League home game of a new season, and the competition will mark its 30th anniversary on Monday night, so ending a streak of conceding first in each of their last five top-flight matches would be the ideal anniversary gift for Klopp and co.
Never will you see a Premier League manager expressing nostalgia over a previous victory against a particular opponent, and Arsenal travelled to Selhurst Park with every intention of rectifying their mistakes from last season’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of their former Invincibles captain Vieira.
Unlike that encounter in April, the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners through Gabriel Martinelli‘s header and a Marc Guehi own goal, but it could have been a different story had the Eagles’ attackers managed to take a couple of gilt-edged opportunities that fell their way.
Defeat to Arsenal broke a spectacular five-game run of home clean sheets for Palace, whose chances of putting their first three points on the board have hardly improved this week, but there were still some positive signs to take away from the inaugural clash of the season.
The 2017-18 campaign represented the last time that Palace opened a top-flight campaign with back-to-back losses, and Vieira’s side failed to keep a single clean sheet in their last five Premier League away games last term, which spells danger against a fired-up Liverpool.
Recent history does not favour the visitors either, as Liverpool have won 10 Premier League games in a row against Crystal Palace since a 2-1 Anfield defeat in April 2017, prevailing in both fixtures last term by an aggregate score of 6-1.
There are fears that Thiago could be out for at least four and up to six weeks with the hamstring injury he picked up at Craven Cottage, as he joins Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Caoimhin Kelleher, Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones and Ibrahima Konate in the infirmary.
Joel Matip has also emerged as a late doubt for the game after missing training with a groin injury, but on a brighter note, Naby Keita has recovered from illness, and Kostas Tsimikas has a good chance of shaking off a knock to be involved.
Matip’s possible absence could see the Van Dijk and Joe Gomez partnership renewed at Anfield, and Nunez has surely done enough to earn his first competitive start, with Roberto Firmino proving largely ineffective last weekend.
Meanwhile, Palace new boy Cheick Doucoure was forced to leave the field with cramp against Arsenal but should be fine for the trip to Anfield, where Michael Olise could also return to the matchday squad.
Yet another setback has come the way of Nathan Ferguson as he remains out with a foot injury, joining James McArthur, James Tomkins and Jack Butland on the sidelines, but Sam Johnstone made the bench on the opening day.
Vicente Guaita may hold his place in between the sticks for the time being, while Odsonne Edouard‘s spot in the final third is under threat from the returning Jean-Philippe Mateta.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Nunez, Diaz
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Schlupp, Doucoure, Eze; Ayew, Mateta, Zaha