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Crystal Palace vs Liverpool: Eagles out to dent title hopes and end on high


SO, THE last home game of the season is upon us already.

What a season it has been, and what better way to finish up at home to title-chasers Liverpool.

If you thought Manchester City were impressive last Sunday, expect Brendan Rodgers' side to go all-out attack as they look to bump up their goal difference.

Indeed, the Premier League title could come down to just that should both the Reds and City win their remaining games.

However, with the way Palace have defended since Tony Pulis' arrival, it will not be an easy ride for the visitors.

The Eagles have their own aims to finish the season on a high and to also maybe sneak a top ten finish. Who would have thought that?

Monday's game could also be the last time you see Julian Speroni pull on the famous red and blue in SE25. Of course, we hope it isn't, but it is a possibility.

The custodian is hoping the club offer him new terms to stay despite interest elsewhere, and the stopper himself knows the game against Liverpool could be emotional.

Speroni is also set to come up against the Premier League's best strikeforce this season in Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

"This is why you want to be in the Premier League, to face this kind of talent," he said. "Whatever happens, we have to go out there and enjoy it. The Liverpool v Chelsea match last weekend was key for Liverpool. They lost and now everything is wide open again.

"It could go to the last game of the season and it's whoever holds their nerve.

"We only have two games left and you wish you had five or six more. Liverpool will be tough and then we have Fulham, who are fighting for their lives. It's not over yet so we carry on."

In terms of line-up, Pulis is likely to play his strongest XI, which includes Speroni in goal.

At the back he is unlikely to change things, with Adrian Mariappa, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney and Joel Ward keeping their places.

In midfield, the boss may decide to recall Kagisho Dikgacoi to partner Mile Jedinak in a bid to stop Steven Gerrard bursting forward.

Yannick Bolasie could also be a busy man in stopping marauding right-back Glen Johnson as well as trying to get forward, while Jason Puncheon looks set to come up against youngster Jon Flanagan.

Joe Ledley, who impressed in his preferred position of central midfield against City, might be deployed further forward to support Cameron Jerome. But Marouane Chamakh has been eye-catching in that role too.

Looking at the visitors, they have no injury worries.

Sturridge came on against Chelsea last weekend after recovering from a hamstring problem and looks set to start.

Raheem Sterling has certainly caught the eye in recent months and will provide Joel Ward with a good test, while Phillipe Coutinho will need to be marshalled.

We've seen how good Martin Skrtel is from set-pieces so he will need to be marked properly, while Gerrard needs no introduction.

Meanwhile, Rodgers is gunning for nothing but a win in south London and believes Liverpool will bounce back following their defeat to Chelsea.

He said: "Our objective is for ourselves. We need to win the two games and see where it takes us.

"Then we will be fine. The players have been absolutely fantastic. We'll now focus on Crystal Palace.

"To lose against Chelsea was obviously a big disappointment, because we haven't had many games that we have lost.

"But we'll recover, we'll go again and hopefully we can get the win next time against Crystal Palace.

"I like to take the initiative in games and let players express themselves. Our game is based on being offensively creative as opposed to stopping.

"[Chelsea] will prepare us for that because of the nature of how Crystal Palace play."

Crystal Palace vs Liverpool: Eagles out to dent title hopes and end on high

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