Reds claims are Crystal clear
Ian Ogg previews the Monday Night Football clash in the Barclays Premier League between Crystal Palace and Liverpool.
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There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip and those cups at Anfield are unlikely to be filled with the sparkling stuff with the champagne back in the cellar after that costly slip at Chelsea.
Manchester City safely negotiated their largest obstacle on Saturday and it's hard to envisage the Citizens suffering a Devon Loch moment in their remaining fixtures against Aston Villa and West Ham while they are nine clear on goal difference.
True, there would be no small degree of schadenfreude at Upton Park should they avenge their humiliating Carling Cup exit to City (or their league defeat) and, in so doing, prevent them from winning the Premier League but it would take a truly extraordinary turn around in form for that to happen.
Is any of this relevant to Monday night's game in South London?
It may not be but then again.........
The bookmakers make City the 2/7 favourites for the title and every football fan and pundit knows that Liverpool's chance of winning the league has all but gone and the players and staff must know it too.
For all the talk, it must weigh on their minds and that could well affect Liverpool in this game.
Crystal Palace are unlikely to do them any favours but win here and it's Newcastle at home and the Geordies represent an altogether different proposition in their current mood despite their defeat of Cardiff so hope will linger on.
Liverpool comfortably accounted for Palace in October but Ian Holloway still had his hand on the tiller for that encounter and Tony Pulis has overseen a remarkable metamorphosis since then.
Prior to their defeat to Manchester City, Palace had won five on the bounce with Chelsea and Everton among the vanquished but, apart from a shock defeat at Hull, the Anfield men have only lost to Arsenal, Southampton, City and Chelsea in the league.
Their record suggests that they're unlikely to stumble against Palace and they have scored in 17 of their 18 away league games this season but that's reflected in odds of 2/5 and shorter.
The Eagles are hardly prolific but they are solid defensively and have conceded three goals fewer than the visitors which would make the win to nil and correct score markets (0-1, 0-2 etc) of interest except that the Liverpool backline has looked vulnerable in recent weeks and has been breached by West Ham, Sunderland, Norwich and Cardiff - teams which you'd struggle to describe as free-scoring.
Luis Suarez was uncharacteristically quiet against Chelsea and the PFA Player of the Year will be keen to make amends for that at Selhurst Park. Over two thirds (21 out of 30) of his top-flight goals have come against teams currently in the bottom half (with 14 against the teams in the bottom four heading into this weekend) and 13 away from home (Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard have both scored nine) but the Suarez to score and Liverpool to win double is generally odds-on and evens at best.
The Uruguayan is odds-on to net at anytime and around 3/1 to score first , prices which reflect his brilliant season and prices which hardly set the pulse racing.
He's formed an exceptional partnership with Sturridge and a feature of their game has been Suarez's decision making and unselfishness in front of goal.
The 27-year-old has provided a dozen assists this season with half of those on the road and Boylesports 7/4 about an anytime assist is almost tempting as a token bet.
Given that Suarez has 13 Man of the Match awards to Gerrard's three would suggest there's some value to be had in backing the striker at 9/2 with the Liverpool skipper rated just 7/1 for the award while, given his superlative range of ball striking, the 4/1 (888sport and Unibet) about him scoring from outside the box also makes some sense for those keen to get him on side.
That all rather assumes that Liverpool will carry on as they have before but with the Premier League title all but gone, that's not an assumption that I'm prepared to make at the prices quoted.