Christian Benteke

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Liverpool will still be without Philippe Coutinho due to a back injury.
  • Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne also miss out, but Daniel Sturridge is fit.
  • Crystal Palace has won three-straight games against Liverpool in the Premier League.
  • Both teams have scored in each of the last 10 meetings in all competitions between Liverpool and Crystal Palace, averaging 3.9 goals per match.

For the second-consecutive week, Liverpool will have to play without Philippe Coutinho, who is still missing with a back injury.

However, that didn’t seem to be an issue last week against Watford as Liverpool scored three goals, but it was the leaky defense that allowed Watford to score three goals themselves. (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Crystal Palace meanwhile also allowed three goals last week but couldn’t score any of its own as it was humbled, 3-0 to Huddersfield. Crystal Palace’s squad is still struggling to adjust to manager Frank De Boer‘s free-flowing style of play and Wilfried Zaha will miss Saturday’s encounter.

But working in Crystal Palace’s favor is Christian Benteke and the club’s three straight wins over Liverpool. It will surely be an open and exciting match at Anfield.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Crystal Palace: “We played Crystal Palace a few weeks ago. I’m not 100 per cent sure about the line-ups in that game, but Phil and Zaha were on the pitch and they will not be [this weekend]. I’m not sure if Adam played in this game, but that’s how it is…The only thing we know is it’s a tough game, probably both teams were not overly happy – we were not really disappointed about our first game, but it was how a first game can be, there are things to improve and it’s always like this, but even then we could’ve won which I think everybody knows.”

Crystal Palace manager Frank De Boer on his system of play: “I am not a manager who suddenly after a defeat decides to change things around and as I say I did see some very positive points so I am not going to change the system. We don’t need to use adapting to a change in style of our play as an excuse, it’s not so difficult and quite easy to play. The Premier League is so competitive that you have to work hard as a team to get a result because if you don’t you get punished. The players don’t want to use the new system as an excuse and I think everybody understands what we want but we have to execute it better.”

Prediction

Liverpool’s centerback pair of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren looked better midweek in the UEFA Champions League against Hoffenheim, but it’s another challenge to face Benteke and a motivated Crystal Palace team. Still, the speed of thought and pace on the field of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane should prove to be the difference. Liverpool 3-2 Crystal Palace

Top Premier League story lines – Week 2

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The Premier League hits its second match day on Saturday, beginning with Manchester United’s trip to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City.

That match isn’t even in our top five as a pair of Top Four battles await Sunday and Monday.

[ MORE: Another American teen making Bundesliga name ]


Can heated rivalry help Chelsea find its form?
Tottenham – Chelsea (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, NBCSN) [ STREAM ] 

The Blues took a long time to recover from Gary Cahill‘s early red card as Chelsea lost 3-2 to Burnley on Opening Day, and know they could find themselves six points behind Tottenham after just two weeks of the Premier League season. The rivalry between Spurs and Chelsea has risen several notches in the past couple years, and Chelsea will also be hampered by suspensions to Cahill and Cesc Fabregas.

Everton starts murderer’s row of fixtures at the Etihad
Manchester City – Everton (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) STREAM ] 

Man City, Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester United: Those are Everton’s next four matches following a win over Stoke and Thursday’s Europa League win over Hajduk Split (The Toffees head to Croatia on Aug. 24). The good news, if there is any, is that Man City didn’t look terrific in its win over Brighton and Hove Albion. The bad news? Everton’s top men, aside from new boy Gylfi Sigurdsson, almost all played in the win over Hajduk.

Arsenal’s beleaguered defense heads to the road
Stoke City – Arsenal (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

The Gunners may boast wins over Chelsea and Leicester City this month, but Arsenal conceded thrice to the Foxes and needed drama to boost three points from Opening Day. Stoke fell 1-0 at Everton but was far from a pushover.

Can Town make it 2-for-2 versus the Toon?
Huddersfield Town vs. Newcastle United (Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – STREAM ]

Rafa Benitez’s Opening Day plans were shuttered by Jonjo Shelvey‘s poor red card, and the Spaniard won’t have his best midfielder at The John Smith’s Stadium when Newcastle faces a Town team that won 3-0 at Crystal Palace. The road sides won when these two met in the Championship last season.

Liverpool’s stumbling defense meets old pal Benteke
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – STREAM ] 

Jurgen Klopp‘s men stumbled out of the gates, even if their last minute concession against Watford in a 3-3 draw arguably shouldn’t have stood up to the linesman’s view. Benteke scored twice as the Eagles won at Anfield last season, and will certainly be up for irking his old boss once more.

Report: Everton chase Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke

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Christian Benteke has emerged as a target for Everton after they sold Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for $96.5 million on Monday.

[ MORE: James joins Bayern Munich ]

Benteke, 26, continues to score goals wherever he goes and he did so last season in a poor Crystal Palace side, netting 17 times for the Eagles to steer them away from the relegation zone.

Sky Sports claim that Ronald Koeman wants to replace one bustling Belgian striker with another as Benteke would slot perfectly into the gap vacated by Lukaku.

Palace are said to be unwilling to sell Benteke but every player has his price. The Eagles paid Liverpool $37 million for Benteke last summer and although his performances at Selhurst Park were up and down, his value is clear with Benteke scoring 66 goals in 154 PL appearances over the past five seasons.

With Everton already adding Sandro Ramirez and Wayne Rooney to their attack for the new season, there is a sense that Koeman may have too many attacking options. However, the Dutch coach said during Rooney’s unveiling on Monday that he would rather have several players chip in with 10-15 goals than rely on one man for 25, with Rooney likely to play in an attacking midfield role.

That leaves the central striking role open for Sandro and another forward, and Everton are said to be interested in signing Olivier Giroud but the Frenchman wants to stay at Arsenal.

As for Benteke, Palace know that Everton have plenty of cash still to spend and that will drive Benteke’s price up as the Eagles aren’t exactly short of cash themselves with American billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitzer investing heavily in recent years.

That said, a fee of around $55-60 million would surely make Palace sit up and take notice.

Benteke returning to Merseyside and scoring plenty of goals for Everton after his lean spell at Liverpool certainly seems like the direction this tale will take if this deal actually happens.

Hull City relegated from Premier League

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  • Palace, Swans staying up
  • Hull going down
  • Ranocchia’s early error dooms Hull

Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke clinched Premier League safety for Crystal Palace and Swansea City on Sunday, their first half goals enough to send Hull City down in a 4-0 win at Selhurst Park.

Luka Milivojevic converted a late penalty and Patrick Van Aanholt scored on the edge of stoppage time to seal the win.

Hull has 34 points, four behind Swans and seven back of Palace.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ranocchia’s colossal error made it 1-0 within the first two minutes, his swing and miss at a Michael Dawson back pass allowed Zaha — of all people! — in one-on-one with Eldin Jakupovic. The star keeper didn’t have much of a chance.

The desperation clicked up a notch for Hull, but good chances failed to materialize as the game neared the half-hour mark. Alfred N'Diaye blazed a shot over the bar, but it was mainly Palace’s advantage in class on display.

Jason Puncheon‘s 34th minute corner saw Benteke power past Harry Maguire to head home, and Hull was in a lot of trouble.

Palace should’ve conceded a penalty within minutes of the second goal when Puncheon handled Kamil Grosicki‘s free kick, but Martin Atkinson didn’t see the offense.

The second half was cagey, as Palace set back to hit on the counter. Andros Townsend was particularly effective in his defensive responsibilities.

Palace wrote its safe status in ink when Dawson took down Jeffrey Schlupp and Milivojevic sent Jakupovic the wrong way. Van Aanholt took a pass from James McArthur to make it 4-0 as the match his stoppage time.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Chelsea won 1-0 on Dec. 17
  • Palace won at Chelsea last season
  • Blues lead all-time 21W-15D-9L

Big Sam Allardyce will put his relegation-battling mettle on the line with a brutal stretch of games beginning with Crystal Palace’s London Derby at Chelsea on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Palace plays Chelsea, Southampton, Arsenal, Leicester City, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur over the next six fixtures, and are a mere four points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: PL Preview — Merseyside Derby ]

Allardyce has led a stiffening of Palace’s once-porous back line, though Eden Hazard, Pedro, and company will challenge that. The Eagles’ three-straight clean sheets have come against Middlesbrough, West Brom, and Watford.

Chelsea’s only league loss since the calendar hit October came in January, a span which has seen the Blues draw only twice.

What they’re saying

Allardyce on Christian Benteke’s two-month goal drought: “From Christian’s point, it’s very frustrating for him because he hasn’t put the ball in the back of the net since Bournemouth. He’s had opportunities and they’ve come and gone, and hopefully they will arrive at the right time for us, which is in the next 10 games. If we are to stay up then we need to get Christian scoring again, and I would hope he could bag five or six goals in the next 10 games to try and help the problem we’re in.”

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte on the plight of Palace“If you ask me why they are in this position, I don’t know. It’s very strange. When you have this team with these great players it can happen, like with Chelsea last season. They have won the last three games; in the last six games they are sixth in the table. We have to pay great attention.”

Prediction

It’s nice of Conte to pay lip service to the legit talent of Palace, but this will be a day for the Blues. Chelsea 3-0.