3 Key Battles That Could Decide Liverpool's Clash With Crystal Palace on Saturday

This Saturday Liverpool welcome Crystal Palace to Anfield as both sides look for a strong response to underwhelming results on the opening weekend of the Premier League. Defensive frailties proved to be the decider as both sides dropped points, and so it's not surprising that defenders feature in three battles that could go a long way to deciding how the game pans out... The former Reds frontman scored twice the last meeting between the two sides and is always the focal point of the Palace...

Jordan Henderson vs Luka Milivojević

Once taunted by fans around the country and branded an overrated waste of money, Jordan Henderson has developed into a very capable holding midfielder.

While his defensive ability is still lacking in areas, Henderson has showed that he is very capable of carving out attacks from the middle of the park and last season's passing accuracy of 85% (the same as Mezut Özil and better than Kevin de Bruyne) only strengthens this point.

Milivojević is supposed to be the rock that holds the middle four together, and if he can keep Henderson out of the game then Liverpool will be relying on Mané, Salah and Firmino to create their own chances.

Sadio Mané vs Patrick van Aanholt

If Sadio Mané hadn't missed out on game time due to injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations it could be argued that he would have had a spot in the Premier League Team of the Year.

Mané is crucial to the Liverpool side, at one point last season they had only won 3 times in 12 outings whithout the Senegalese forward, and if he can find himself up against an exposed Palace back three then we should expect plenty of goals.

Former Sunderland wing-back Van Aanholt has plenty of pace to burn and so certainly has the speed to match the Liverpool winger in a sprint. However, the Dutchman is often seen more as an attacking defender and so it will remain to be seen whether or not he has the ability to nullify Mané.

Christian Benteke vs Dejan Lovren & Joel Matip

The former Reds frontman scored twice the last meeting between the two sides and is always the focal point of the Palace team.

Benteke scored 17 times in his debut season for the Eagles and, although de Boer's new 3-4-3 system looks less likely to focus on the old school long-ball tactic, it should be expected that the Belgian will fed plenty of aerial balls on Saturday.

While Dejan Lovren has had a fairly troubled Liverpool career so far, Joel Matip is an experienced defender who should not be too troubled by a big target man. 

However, Liverpool have been poor at set-pieces for a long time now and showed no difference at Vicarage Road. If Liverpool want to win, they need their centre-backs to deal with Benteke in a professional way. 

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