Premier League Preview and Prediction: Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool

Venue: Selhurst Park – Sunday, March 6 – 13:30 GMT (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: Crystal Palace 13/5 – Draw 23/10 – Liverpool 23/20

Match Preview

Crystal Palace will hope to end a dreadful run of form when they welcome Liverpool to Selhurst Park in the earlier of the Sunday Premier League games this weekend.

Form suggests that Palace are currently the worst team in the league after they saw their winless streak stretch to 11 with a draw away to Sunderland in the week.

Despite being nine points clear of the relegation zone, Alan Pardew and his team will be wary that unless things change soon, they may be fighting for survival in the final weeks of the campaign.

Crystal Palace’s Premier League record: P28 – W9 – D6 – L13

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Liverpool have arguably been the most impressive team over the last couple of weeks and are now only six points off the top four.

A 3-0 win over Manchester City on Wednesday saw the Merseyside club close the gap on their top four rivals. The win of course followed up the agonising loss on penalties to City in the League Cup final last Sunday, and that resilience will have delighted Jurgen Klopp.

After scoring nine goals in their last two Premier League games and conceding none, Liverpool are in the best form of their season and look on course for a serious push for Europe.

Liverpool’s record in the Premier League: P27 – W11 – D8 – L8 

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Team News

Crystal Palace remain hopeful Wayne Hennessey and Connor Wickham can both shake off knocks to start. Jason Puncheon and James McArthur are both out.

Liverpool will of course still be without Joe Gomez and Danny Ings, who both have season-ending injuries. Mamadou Sakho (head) is a doubt but Lucas Leiva (thigh strain) is ruled out so Klopp’s problems at the back continue.

Key Points

Crystal Palace’s last five: L/D/L/L/D

Liverpool’s last five: W/L/D/W/W

Key Stat: Crystal Palace are yet to win in the Premier League in 2016.

Key Player: Roberto Firmino – The Brazilian is flourishing under Jurgen Klopp and is given the freedom to create all over the final third. With his freedom of movement, it will be hard for the Palace defence to track him and so you can expect him to manipulate space and cause them problems on Sunday.

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Score Prediction

Crystal Palace 0-2 Liverpool – Form doesn’t often lie and this Palace side are struggling to look convincing enough to win in the league. Liverpool rolled over a very good Manchester City side in midweek, so we’re expecting an easy away win.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: BC Place – Wednesday, April 8th – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Columbus 14/5

Match Preview

Vancouver Whitecaps host Columbus Crew in the first midweek MLS game of the season on Wednesday night as the Crew look to halt the ‘Caps recent surge.

Vancouver currently sit at the top of the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings after five weeks, with Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win against LA Galaxy making it four straight wins for the first time in the club’s short MLS history.

Octavio Rivero netted his fourth in five games in that win and the Uruguayan striker, who scooped the March Player of the Month award, is leading the MLS Golden Boot standing at this early stage.

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The Whitecaps look to be on a fine run and it’s going to take a huge effort from the Crew to walk out of Canada with a win on Wednesday.

One thing in Columbus’ favour is the fact that they’re coming off their second bye of the season and should be in good shape for this one, whereas the ‘Caps will have had just four days rest.

The Crew have only won one of their opening three games and have suffered two losses, including last time out at the Red Bulls.

Things haven’t quite clicked yet but a win against the side with the most points in Major League Soccer would be a real boost for Gregg Berhalter’s men.

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Recent history favours the home side though as the Whitecaps have won the last three meetings between the two, after Columbus won the first two fixtures in Vancouver’s inaugural season.

Last year’s meeting ended 1-0 to Vancouver in Columbus and this will be the first clash between the two at BC Place since 2013, when the ‘Caps sealed a 2-1 win.

Team News

Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson has three injury concerns that are set to miss out as Andre Lewis (knee), Mauro Rosales (ankle) and Marco Bustos (foot) are all injured. Gershon Koffie is a doubt with a knee sprain but should make the squad. Kekuta Manneh and Nicolas Mezquida should keep their places on the wings, with Rivero as the lone striker.

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Columbus Crew are set to be without star man Federico Higuain as the Argentine playmaker serves his one-match suspension for the red card he picked up in the loss to the Red Bulls last time out. Romain Gall (knee) and Wil Trapp (calf) are also set to miss out again and so Tony Tchani and Mohammed Saeid will continue their midfield partnership, with Justin Meram set to return to the lineup following international duty with Iraq. Kei Kamara will start in attack.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: L/W/W/W/W

Columbus Crew’s form: L/W/L

Key Stat: Vancouver have recorded the lowest average possession stat in MLS this season with 43.5% while Columbus have recorded the highest (56%).

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Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Chilean playmaker is always at the heart of everything Vancouver do going forwards and he already has three assists in five games this season. Expect him to be key.

Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Columbus Crew – The Crew may have had a long rest for this one but they haven’t found their rhythm yet and face the Whitecaps at the worst possible time. Vancouver look strong and should follow up that victory against the Galaxy with another home win.

Playoff Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy

Seattle Sounders welcome the LA Galaxy to CenturyLink Field in what will be the last game of the 2014 season for one of these sides and a place in the MLS Cup Final is at stake.

The Galaxy take a narrow 1-0 lead to Seattle with them thanks to a deflected second-half strike from Marcelo Sarvas in the first leg at the StubHub Center last weekend.

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The Sounders will be thankful that they limited the damage to just a one goal deficit in a game where they will be the first to admit that they weren’t at their full-flowing best, but they’ve still managed to keep themselves very much alive in the tie.

It has been an amazing season for Seattle no matter what happens but they appear to be stuttering slightly in recent weeks and they will hope that they don’t fall at the final hurdle, so to speak.

They’ll be looking to their usually solid home form and hoping that it will be their saviour in this clash and also hoping that Osvaldo Alonso will return from injury in time to give his side the edge they need in midfield.

Seattle Sounders 2014 home record: Played 18 – Won 12 – Drawn 2 – Lost 4

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Boosted from their 5-0 thrashing of Real Salt Lake in the semi-final, LA Galaxy look like a revitalised team from the one that succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against the Sounders on the last day of the regular season and will be happy with their lead, as well as being quietly confident they can get themselves over the line.

Hitting a good vein of form at the right time is crucial in competitions like this because one moment in a game can change the face of everything, so LA can be pleased that they’ve scored six in their last three games and conceded none.

They know that they are now the slight favourites as keeping a clean sheet at home means that the Sounders don’t have an away goal to their name, so if the Galaxy can knick one in Seattle, they will be firmly in the driving seat and will leave their opponents needing three.

LA Galaxy 2014 away record: Played 18 – Won 5 – Drawn 7 – Lost 6

It’s a clash of the Western Conference titans and the incentive to get to the final couldn’t be higher as both are seeking to make history – MLS Cup success for Seattle would see them become the first team in MLS to win the treble (Supporters’ Shield, U. S. Open Cup and MLS Cup) while LA Galaxy are looking to record their fifth MLS Cup glory and become the most successful club in the history of the competition.

Both sides know what to expect from each other and they both also know how tough a game it will be, which can only make for a tight and intense encounter which looks set to go down to the wire.

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Key Player: Clint Dempsey – he’s missed a few good chances of late and he knows he can do better. He’s a player of real high quality and the Sounders will be looking to him to inspire the team.

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are without a win on the road in their last five attempts – their last win away from home came at Chivas USA on September 1.

Seattle Sounders last five: D/W/D/D/L

LA Galaxy’s last five: D/L/D/W/W

Score Prediction: Seattle Sounders 1-2 LA Galaxy – We aren’t expecting a goal-fest but it should be a tight game. The Galaxy are high on confidence right now and look hungry for success, while Seattle look like they have run out of steam right at the end.

Playoff Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy

Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy will meet in a Western Conference heavyweight clash at the Rio Tinto Stadium in their playoff semi-final first leg on Saturday night.

Both sides share a vast experience of competing in the MLS Cup, so they’re certainly no strangers to the responsibility and pressure that comes with playoff matches.

Real Salt Lake were runners-up in the final last year following a penalty shootout defeat to Sporting Kansas City after they had tied the game 1-1 and have qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs every season since 2008.

They won the competition in 2009 when they beat LA Galaxy on penalties – their only MLS Cup title to date.

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Real Salt Lake will look to their home advantage to try and get themselves ahead in this tie as their form at the Rio Tinto Stadium has been excellent this year, with 11 wins and just the one defeat.

Real Salt Lake’s home form: Played 17 – Won 11 – Drawn 5 – Lost 1

LA Galaxy are the joint most successful team in the history of the MLS Cup alongside DC United with both sides having won four titles.

However, the Galaxy were dumped out of the competition at this stage last year by the same opponents, losing 2-1 on aggregate, so they will be looking to avoid a repeat performance.

They will also have to recover from their Supporters’ Shield disappointment after their 2-0 defeat against Seattle Sounders in the last game of the season saw them finish in second place, while the Sounders lifted the title.

They’ve struggled for consistency away from home and their last win on the road was a 3-0 win at Chivas USA on September 1, so the key will be to keep it tight on Saturday night.

LA Galaxy’s away form: Played 17 – Won 5 – Drawn 6 – Lost 6

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It’s crucial to still be alive in the tie when the second leg comes around, so neither side will want to hand the initiative to the opposition, so this should make for a tense but entertaining affair.

Key Player: Alvaro Saborio – Real Salt Lake’s Costa-Rican forward has been in fine form this season, having scored 8 goals from just 13 starts. He boasts the best goals-per-game ratio for the home side and if he plays a part, he could make the difference.

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have faced Real Salt Lake twice before in the MLS Cup and have been on the losing end both times:

  • 2013 – Western Conference semi-final – Real Salt Lake 2-1 LA Galaxy (aggregate score)
  • 2009 – MLS Cup Final – Real Salt Lake 1-1 LA Galaxy (Real Salt Lake won 5-4 on penalties)

Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/L/W/D/W

LA Galaxy’s last five: W/W/L/D/L

Prediction: Real Salt Lake 1 – 1 LA Galaxy

Playoff Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Vancouver Whitecaps

FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps have both earned their spot in the playoff positions after successful regular seasons in the Western Conference but the dress rehearsals are over and now it’s time for the real thing as they clash in the knockout round at the Toyota Stadium on Wednesday.

Dallas are appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 when they fell at this stage, losing 2-0 to New York Red Bulls – they were MLS Cup runners-up in 2010 which is the furthest they’ve ever been.

They’ve finished the regular season with slight inconsistency with four wins and five defeats from their last nine games.

Dallas met with Vancouver twice in the closing stages of the season, winning 2-1 at home in September and losing 2-0 away in October, so this is a game that couldn’t be harder to predict and should make for a fascinating tie.

FC Dallas home form: Played 17 – Won 12 – Drawn 1 – Lost 4

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Vancouver’s only appearance in the playoffs came in the 2012 season when they were beaten 2-1 in the knockout round by LA Galaxy so they will be hoping to make it through to the semi-finals this time around.

As the regular season was nearing its conclusion, Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey stressed the importance of going into the playoffs in a good run of form and they’ve certainly done that, winning four and drawing one of their last five games.

Picking up victories on the road has proven to be a slight issue for the Canadian outfit, but they don’t lose too many games either, so if they don’t win this in 90 minutes, they may be able to force extra-time and penalties.

Vancouver Whitecaps away form: Played 17 – Won 3 – Drawn 9 – Lost 5

This game marks the beginning of the MLS Cup 2014, so let’s hope these two sides can set the tone with an entertaining spectacle.

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Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Whitecaps playmaker has been crucial to their success this season (10 goals, 12 assists) and a lot of responsibility will fall on his shoulders again.

Key Stat: Vancouver Whitecaps have never beaten FC Dallas at the Toyota Stadium – is there a first time for everything?

FC Dallas last five: W/L/W/W/L

Vancouver Whitecaps last five: W/W/W/D/W

Prediction: FC Dallas 0 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union visit the Columbus Crew Stadium on Sunday night and will be hoping to leave with three points to follow up their 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City, and end the season on a high.

Columbus Crew will be looking secure the third playoff seed to avoid playing in the wildcard game, and will need to win to fight off Kansas City, whereas the Union’s season will definitely finish on Sunday.

The Union comes into the game having only won one in their last six. And the Crew hasn’t conceded in their last four matches at home.

Columbus’ home form: Played 16 – Won 8 – Drawn 4 – Lost 4

With the Crew having already secured a place in the playoffs, it makes for intriguing viewing to see just what side Gregg Berhalter will put out. But we expect a strong team.

Columbus will want to end the regular season on a high heading into the post-season, while Philadelphia will want to spoil the party, so hopefully we’ll get some goals.

Philadelphia’s away form: Played 16 – Won 4 – Drawn 4 – Lost 8

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Key Player: Federico Higuain – Sensational this year, expect him to finish strong too.

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have won their last five at home. Can they make it six?

Columbus’ last five: W/W/L/W/W

Philadelphia’s last five: D/L/D/L/W

Prediction: Columbus Crew 1 – 1 Philadelphia Union

Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls

Sporting Kansas City welcome New York Red Bulls to Sporting Park for the final fixture in this year’s MLS regular season.

It’s a game that has implications for both Eastern Conference sides as they look to avoid the wildcard playoff fixture.

Victory for Kansas City guarantees them a third place finish meaning that they will definitely avoid the wildcard game – a draw could be enough for them but they would be relying on Columbus Crew failing to win in their game at home to Philadelphia Union.

New York Red Bulls have to win this game in order to stand any chance of finishing in the top three.

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[Dom Dwyer: Can Sporting’s top goalscorer inspire them to victory?]

Since an impressive run of form in the middle of the season that saw them go eight games without defeat, winning six and drawing two, Sporting Kansas City have hit the metaphorical wall.

After that purple patch, they’ve only managed three wins in 11 games and have suffered seven defeats in that time.

Fortunately for Kansas City, they had done enough beforehand to ensure that they’ve still secured a playoff position.

Sporting Kansas City’s home form: Played 16 – Won 6 – Drawn 6 – Lost 4

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[Thierry Henry: One of the main men for New York Red Bulls]

It has very much been a season of ups and downs for New York Red Bulls as they haven’t managed to string together a strong run of form at any stage.

Just as it looked like they were getting going, they would lose a game and it would disrupt the run they were on.

Their form away from home has certainly been an issue in this campaign with just two victories on the road from 16 attempts, so they will need to improve on that.

New York Red Bulls away form: Played 16 – Won 2 – Drawn 7 – Lost 7

Neither of these sides will be particularly high on confidence going in to it but they both know the importance of this fixture, so it should make for a good game.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – the Red Bulls forward is still desperately chasing the record as the top goalscorer in an MLS season although it’s going to take a minor miracle because he needs a hat-trick.

But with the bit between his teeth, he may put in that extra effort and it could inspire New York to victory.

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City haven’t beaten New York Red Bulls at home since October 2011, when they ran out 2-0 winners.

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: W/L/D/W/L

New York Red Bulls last five: W/L/W/W/L

Prediction: Sporting Kansas City 1 – 1 New York Red Bulls

Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs Toronto FC

Toronto’s disappointing season is over as far as playoff hopes go, but they travel to an in-form New England on Saturday night looking to end the campaign on a high.

The Revs come into the game off the back of a good away win against Houston Dynamo last Thursday, they wrapped up a second place finish in the Eastern Conference with that result.

More would have been expected at the start of the season from Toronto and they will be disappointed with their season, as they struggled to ever find a good run of form.

The Revs have only lost one in their last nine all competitions and have been reaping the rewards in terms of their position in the table.

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Lee Nguyen, a challenger for the MVP award, has been excellent and his confidence has been sky high. Without his astonishing 17 goals from midfield, New England would not be second in the table.

Toronto need to have a strong finish to the season and reassess for next term, but they will be without Jermain Defoe once again, a situation they may have to get used to as his future is very much up in the air.

Dominic Oduro’s two goals in 23 games is far from satisfactory for a player with the potential he has, while Gilberto will have expected to score more than seven in his first season in MLS.

Key Player: Lee Nguyen – We’re running out of superlatives to describe the midfielder and he will be heavily involved in the game once again.

Key stat: Toronto have failed to keep a clean sheet in five, so we can expect goals.

New England Revolution Last 5: L/W/W/D/W

Toronto Last 5: W/L/L/L/D

Prediction: New England Revolution 2-1 Toronto