Liverpool v Crystal Palace key battles: Christian Benteke, James Milner and more

Kieran Beckles

Joel Matip v Christian Benteke

Christian Benteke will return to Anfield on Sunday afternoon. The Belgium striker looks to punish Liverpool for discarding the towering striker last summer. Benteke was signed in a £32.5m deal under Brendan Rodgers. However, it quickly became apparent that Jurgen Klopp didn’t rate the striker. Joel Matip, if fit, will be tasked with keeping Benteke in check at Anfield. The Cameroon centre-half made an excellent start to his Liverpool career. Matip has faded in the second half of the campaign due to injury, though. This battle could decide the outcome of the Premier League clash, particularly given Liverpool’s susceptibility when it comes to defending set-pieces. Benteke has scored three goals in his last four games – too. Ominous, you might say.

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James Milner v Wilfried Zaha

Another Palace star in a rich vein of form is Ivory Coast international Wilfried Zaha. The Manchester United reject is loving life back at Selhurst Park. His eye-catching performances have even prompted talk of a possible move to Tottenham Hotspur. Zaha has produced more dribbles than any other player in the Premier League. It’s little wonder that the winger boasts a return of six goals and nine assists in 29 games. Zaha will come up against an experienced Premier League player in the shape of Milner. The vice-captain has proven himself adept at playing at left-back, despite being a midfielder. But Zaha’s ability to cut in from the wing and searing pace will be a concern for the two-time Premier League winner.

Simon Mignolet v Simon Mignolet

Not many Liverpool fans would have predicted that Simon Mignolet would end the 2016-17 season as Klopp’s undisputed number one. In doing so, he has ended speculation surrounding his future. It appears unlikely the Liverpool boss will sign a shot stopper in the summer. Indeed, Klopp was quick to rubbish speculation linking Liverpool with a move to sign Manchester City outcast Joe Hart. The England No1 is currently on loan at Serie A side Torino. However, Mignolet’s biggest enemy is himself. It would be typical of the Liverpool goalkeeper to make a mistake in light of the recent praise for the Belgian shot stopper.

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