Liverpool are favorites to win the FA Cup in the betting, but first they have to negotiate a tricky trip to Crystal Palace. William Hill's Lee Phelps has looked at the odds and has a free pick or two.
History hasn’t been kind to Liverpool when Crystal Palace have been the opponents, you could even call them a bogey team for the Merseysiders.
In actual fact Liverpool tend to win as you would expect, but key games in the history of the Reds have seen Palace come out on top.
Once upon a time the great late ‘80s side including John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge and so on beat Palace 9-0, Palace then beat the Reds in the FA Cup semi-final the April after and many believe started the downturn in Liverpool’s fortunes. More recently of course they put a massive dent in Liverpool's Premier League title aspirations last season coming back from three nil down to draw 3-3 in what has been labelled Cryst-anbul in memory of Liverpool's comeback against AC Milan to win the Champions League.
This season Palace one again reminded Brendan Rodgers’ team not to take them lightly with a 3-1 win, coming back from a second minute Ricky Lambert goal, cancelled out by Gayle, Ledley and Jedinak.
Alan Pardew has started his latest spell at Palace in good style, although I suppose you could argue it’s only one win in four now and the goals have dried up a little, but if we’re talking Premier League, low scoring draws are fine. The problem when you talk about the Cup is that he consistently weakened down as Newcastle manager despite being in comfortable positions in the league. What we don’t know is if that was at the owner’s request or not.
Palace are 10 points from safety (if we say 37 points is enough) with 13 games remaining so you could argue the FA Cup would be a distraction to what is surely the club’s main aim of staying up.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few changes by Pardew for this one with Arsenal, West Ham and Southampton their next three top flight games.
The home form is anything to write home about either, with the win against Liverpool one of just three all season long.
To add to the general improvement we’ve seen from Liverpool recently, Mario Balotelli scored on Tuesday against Tottenham, winning an important game 3-2 for the Reds who are now three off third place.
It seems like everything is coming together for Rodgers at Anfield, with players returning to fitness and form, confidence is flowing and they are capable of shutting teams out, being disciplined or going toe-to-toe like they did versus Spurs. They have to be careful any attacking flare doesn’t mean they become leaky at the back.
I can see Liverpool creating chances here and Daniel Sturridge is priced at 2.4 (7/5) to score. This is a man who has come back from injury well and although he drew a blank on Tuesday he had opportunities. His goal record for Liverpool is 38 goals in 56 games and I’m happy to play at that price.
I expect Liverpool to target the FA Cup, but I can’t say the same for Crystal Palace, so I’m happy to look at an away win here and Gerrard and Co going back to their recent away performances, where they keep it tight and look to grab a goal on the break. 2.1 (11/10) may tempt plenty in, but it’s a little short for me, given their recent struggles with Palace.
One other soccer pick I like revolves around second half goals. Liverpool have only conceded one first half away goal since their disastrous first 45 minutes at Old Trafford in mid-December. That is eight games and Palace have only scored one first half goal in their last five matches at home, so 2.2 (6/5) is another nice price.
Free Soccer Pick: Daniel Sturridge to score 2.4 (7/5)