Liverpool V Crystal Palace at Anfield : Match Preview

21 April 2017 04:34

Palace more than a one-man team, says Klopp ahead of Benteke's Anfield return

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is well aware of the threat Christian Benteke poses but has warned his players they cannot concentrate their focus on the big man.

The Belgium striker returns to Anfield for the first time since ending his one-season stay at the club last summer with a B#27million move to Selhurst Park.

Benteke has scored 14 goals this season - four more than he managed under Klopp last season - and three in his last four matches.

Worryingly for Klopp he likes scoring against Liverpool, with five in seven appearances.

Only Stoke's Jon Walters, who scored his seventh against the Reds in the Potters' 2-1 defeat earlier this month, has more in the Premier League against the club.

"When the ball is in the air he is the main threat because he is unbelievable and we felt it all the time in training when he was here," Klopp said.

"He has scored 14 goals this season so he is another player with confidence and on a good run.

"Always when you play against players like these type of players who are tall, good with their backs to the goal, you have to avoid the crosses and the passes.

"If we let them cross 50 balls it is pretty likely he will have a few dangerous headers but that is not his only strength.

"You have to avoid passes in this area but not only for him; if you only concentrate on Christian then (Wilfried) Zaha, (Andros) Townsend are around you.

"They have one of the best offensive lines in the Premier League and we respect this."

Klopp has defensive problems to worry about with defenders Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan - plus midfielder-turned-auxiliary-centre-back Lucas Leiva - unable to train this week because of minor injuries.

If none recover the Reds boss is faced with giving Joe Gomez his first Premier League start since September 2015 following his recovery from a knee operation which prematurely ended his campaign last season.

"It is not 100 per cent Lucas, Joel and Ragnar cannot play but they are not in training at the moment," said the German.

"Joe Gomez played on Monday for the Under-23s and did well and has made big steps in the last few weeks. Maybe we have to try this pair (Gomez and Dejan Lovren)."

Benteke meanwhile, has been warned against letting his desire to prove a point to Liverpool affect his focus.

Victory on Sunday would take Palace's points total to 38, which may prove enough to preserve their Premier League status, and Sam Allardyce said: "I don't want him to get over zealous about trying to do somethinig a bit special that may harm the team's performance.

"Trying to do that last dribble or trying to do that last flick or trick to show (Liverpool) what they might be missing. Great if it comes off, but if it doesn't it can be costly.

"If you go back to one of your old clubs you always want to show what you might be missing.

"I'd like to see him carry on playing the way he has been, certainly in the last six, seven or eight games. Since he came back from international duty, the goals are coming back.

"He's working much harder and he's creating more opportunities for himself, the players are creating more opportunities for him to score. He will want to do very well but I don't want him to lose what he's been offering the team by trying to do too much."

Source: PAR