Liverpool will visit Crystal Palace next Monday in a very important match for the Reds in the fight for the Premier League title. As in the previous match against Chelsea, I think that the only uncertainty is the presence of Daniel Sturridge, who has been injured since the clash against Manchester City. In my opinion, manager Brendan Rodgers will choose a 4-3-3 scheme, as he did in the last matches.
The goalkeeper and defense will surely be the same as the last games, since there isn’t any injured or suspended player in those positions. Simon Mignolet will be the goalkeeper, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Škrtel will play in the centre back, John Flanagan in the left back and Glen Johnson in the right.
In the midfield, Jordan Henderson can’t play because he was suspended for three matches after seeing the red card in the Manchester City match – he will return only for the last match of the season against Newcastle. I believe that his replacement will be, as in the games against Norwich City and Chelsea, the Welshman Joe Allen.
Skipper Steven Gerrard will be in the lineup with certainty, and the name of the third midfielder will depend on the presence of Daniel Sturridge (hamstring injury) in attack. If he plays from the beginning, Philippe Coutinho will play in the midfield, but if Studge goes to the bench Coutinho will play as a striker and Lucas Leiva will be the third midfielder.
In the match against Norwich City Sturridge didn’t even go to the bench, and in the clash against Chelsea last Sunday he replaced Lucas Leiva at the second half with the match 0-1, as the boss was surely looking for a greater attack threat.
Rodgers spoke about Sturridge form: “Initially they [the doctors] thought the hamstring injury was not going to be as bad as what it was. He has trained with the medical team and he worked hard to push himself to make an impact against Chelsea but it was clear that impact was not going to work for us. He has been in a much better phase this week and feels a lot better and he will certainly be in contention for the game on Monday.” [source]
The truth is that Sturridge first training since he got injured was on Saturday, two days before the game (he played against Chelsea because the team needed it but it was too early for him) and although Rodgers said that he’ll check his fitness in the course of the weekend, I think that he’ll go to the bench again.
Of course, it’s all about how good is his shape, since if he’s in form there is no doubt that he’ll be in the lineup because he’s one of the most important players in Liverpool attack.
As I said, in my opinion Lucas will be the third midfielder, and Coutinho will play as a striker along with Luis Suárez and Raheem Sterling.
Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Johnson, Škrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Lucas, Gerrard, Allen; Coutinho, Sterling, Suárez.