‘We can hurt Liverpool like we did Manchester City’ – Palace star Kelly ready for Anfield return

There will be plenty of reunions when Crystal Palace visit Anfield this weekend.

From the dugout, where former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson – yes, it really did happen – will look to plot the Reds’ downfall, to the field, where one-time Kopites Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke will play key roles in the visitors’ gameplan. Even Zaf Iqbal, the Eagles club doctor, spent four-and-a-half years on Merseyside.

However, with 17 years’ service in a red shirt, Martin Kelly can top that. The versatile defender made 62 appearances at Anfield between 2008 and 2014, and was part of the squad which delivered Liverpool’s last major trophy, the 2012 League Cup.

He can also boast, if that is the right word, the shortest ever senior England career, his one friendly appearance totalling just two minutes.

This weekend, he will seek to bring down his former club. Kelly played when Palace won at Anfield in April 2017. Of the 31 home league games since, Liverpool have won 22 and drawn nine. It is the third-longest unbeaten home run in their history.

“It’s always nice to go back home,” says Kelly, speaking exclusively to Goal. “And especially with the new stand. It’s always a nice fixture in terms of the stadium.”

Palace are not only the last visiting team to win a league game at Anfield. They were also, in November 2015, the first side to inflict defeat on Jurgen Klopp in the Premier League.

Of course, it was Palace who famously ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side at the tail end of the 2013-14 campaign. ‘Crystanbul’, they called it.

Martin Kelly Liverpool PS

They’ve been upsetting the big boys this season too. Draws with Manchester United and Arsenal were admirable, but it was their victory over Manchester City at the Etihad, three days before Christmas, which blew the title race open.

Liverpool’s lofty position in the table owes plenty to the Londoners.

“We all get excited playing the big teams,” says Kelly. “You go to the best stadiums and it’s exciting.

“But we will take it as another Premier League game and will go with the game plan that has been set by the manager and the staff.

“We know that we’ve got great ability in our squad and we can hurt any team in the league. We’ve shown that by getting a result against Manchester City, the draws with Arsenal and Manchester United this season, so all we can do is stick to our game plan and see what happens.”

Luka Milivojevic Manchester City Crystal Palace EPL 12222018

Kelly, like the rest of the country, has been watching events at the top of the table with interest. Liverpool can extend their lead over Manchester City, who play at Huddersfield on Sunday, to seven points with a victory over Palace this weekend.

“I don’t think they will be thinking about that,” says Kelly. “They are professional athletes and all you think about is the next game and your next opponent – you don’t try to think too far ahead.

“I can see the title race going right down to the wire. Liverpool are in the driving seat at the minute, but Manchester City, with the way they play, will be right there. It’ll be exciting for every Premier League fan.”

As for Kelly, he is able to reflect on his time at Anfield with fondness. Injuries denied him the chance to truly establish himself at his boyhood club, but not many Academy graduates can match his achievements.

Indeed, until Trent Alexander-Arnold’s emergence, no home-grown player had played more than Kelly’s 62 games for Liverpool since Steven Gerrard.

“I think it’s vital for the club and the fans to see home-grown players come through,” he says. “With Trent, it seems that he has everything in his grasp to become a world-class player. Watching him play, he’s got all the attributes.

“He’s still young so he probably needs the experience wrapped around him like I did. Having Jamie Carragher helped me, and Trent has the likes of Virgil van Dijk around him, so if he keeps his feet on the ground, he can go a long way.”

Martin Kelly Trent Alexander-Arnoled PS

Kelly is also ideally placed to judge the progress of another supremely gifted young English full-back.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s development at Palace this season has been to the detriment of Kelly’s first-team prospects, in truth, but the England under-21 international is already catching the eye of the Premier League big boys with his performances.

Sadio Mane will have a testing afternoon against the 21-year-old, for sure.

“Playing alongside Aaron, you forget how young he is,” Kelly says. “He’s a player that only broke into the first team last season but playing with him, it’s like he’s played 10 seasons.

“He plays with experience, he’s always in the right position, he knows when to go forward and when to stay. He’s coming on leaps and bounds.

“He must be made up with the progression he’s making, and a player of Aaron’s ability he’ll probably want to start adding more assists to his game.

“He helps the team massively defensively, and you can leave him more or less one-on-one with any attacker knowing that he is going to do his job.

“He’s a great player to have on the team.”

Liverpool, you have been warned…

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Betting Tips for Today: Napoli can make home advantage count against Lazio

Napoli will look to close the gap on Juventus at the top of Serie A when they host Lazio on Sunday.

888Sport are 22/25 (1.88) about the home side winning this game and that looks a solid price given how they’ve fared thus far.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have won eight of their 10 home league matches this season. That’s the second-best record of any side in Italy, only behind the runaway leaders who have two more points in front of their own fans.

Lazio Torino Serie A

Lazio are 3/1 (4.0) underdogs and that quote conveys how much of a test this is likely to be for the visitors. A draw is available at 49/20 (3.45) with 888Sport.

Apart from a narrow 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan, Napoli have been in fantastic form in their most recent Serie A outings, winning five of the last six.

Not only are the hosts scoring plenty of goals domestically – 37 in 19 league outings to be exact – but their defence is also trustworthy, conceding fewer than a goal per game this term.

Perhaps the most impressive part of their campaign to date has been the ability to find the net in the closing stages of matches.

Napoli Sassuolo Coppa Italia

Napoli have scored 23 second half goals but 13 of them have come in the final 15 minutes of matches. At home those statistics are even more pronounced.

In matches at Stadio San Paolo, Ancelotti’s men have netted eight times between the 76th minute and full time, conceding just once in that time-span.

With that in mind, Napoli to win the second half could be worth considering at 6/5 (2.20) but if they are able to establish an advantage early then their defensive strength might be enough to take three points.

Taking the 22/25 (1.88) about a Napoli win in the match odds looks the way to go for what promises to be an enthralling Serie A encounter.

Betting Banner - Best BetNapoli to win at 22/25 (1.88) for a 2pt stake with 888Sport

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Contract rebel Rabiot ruled out of contention at PSG amid Barcelona & Chelsea talk

Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Adrien Rabiot is not available for selection due to his contract stand-off at Paris Saint-Germain.

Rabiot has refused to sign a new deal at the Parc des Princes and, as it stands, will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is reportedly furious at the stance taken by the France midfielder and ordered he train with the reserves, ruling him out of contention for the first-team squad.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash with rock-bottom Guingamp, Tuchel said: “I have to prepare my team for Guingamp and it will be a team without Adrien Rabiot.

“I respect the club’s decision. And it is a decision of the club.”

Rabiot has been heavily linked with Barcelona and Chelsea and appears certain to depart the Ligue 1 champions, leaving Tuchel with a hole to fill in his squad.

Julian Weigl, a player Tuchel knows well from their time together at Borussia Dortmund, has been mentioned as a replacement but the German refused to fuel the speculation.

Julian Weigl Borussia Dortmund

“Weigl? I can’t talk about players who are at another club,” Tuchel added.

“Julian was one of my players, but he belongs to Dortmund. We’re working hard to recruit a defensive midfielder.

“Fourteen days is not long but I trust we can recruit the players we need.”

PSG’s only domestic defeat this season came at the hands of Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue nine days ago and Tuchel confirmed he would select his strongest XI at the weekend before making changes for the Coupe de France clash with Strasbourg on Wednesday.

The Parisians hold a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table as they seek a sixth Ligue 1 crown in seven years.

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Man City considering new left-back signing as Guardiola confirms ‘three or four’ midfield targets

Pep Guardiola says he has identified “three or four” transfer targets capable of replacing Fernandinho in the Manchester City midfield, and says he could also sign a new left-back.

Guardiola confirmed ahead of Monday’s win over Wolves that finding an alternative to the Brazil international would be an “important target” ahead of next season.

The Catalan also spoke at length about the difficulty of finding suitable players, especially as City are unwilling to spend £100 million to do so. 

“It’s so difficult to find,” he said of players with Fernandinho’s profile. “He knows the Premier League, after three years together here, he knows everything and that’s so important.”

City pursued Jorginho last summer and have still not given up hope of signing Frenkie De Jong from Ajax while it is understood they are also keeping tabs on Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele and Wolves’ Ruben Neves, among others.

That represents a broad spread of players with differing strengths and weaknesses, and speaking at his Friday press conference Guardiola outlined exactly what he is looking for.

“We need a guy who has physicality, can read where our spaces are to attack,” he said. “As many things as he can do, the better. It’s not easy to find one player who can do everything.”

Asked if he has identified anybody capable of fitting the bill, he replied: “Yeah we’ve seen many. There are three or four we are looking at, searching for that position.”

Guardiola also confirmed that City are considering the signing of a new left-back, although he insisted that his side have coped well without Benjamin Mendy, who missed most of last season and much of this.

Benjamin Mendy Manchester City

Goal understands that the City boss is especially keen to sign an alternative to Mendy, with Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell among the list of options.

“We survived well last season, this season too,” he said of Mendy. “But we are thinking about that yeah. I cannot assure you as I’m delighted with the players I have, but we are going to look at that option.”

Mendy has already had several training sessions and is now building up his fitness ahead of a return to the first team.

The France international had surgery on a meniscus injury at the end of last year, having already missed part of the season with a foot problem.
 

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Huddersfield Town vs Manchester City Betting Tips: Latest odds, team news, preview and predictions

Manchester City travel to take on Huddersfield Town in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Pep Guardiola’s men kept up their pursuit of league leaders Liverpool with a comfortable 3-0 win against Wolves on Monday night and will hope for another three points here.

The Terriers will have Mark Hudson in temporary charge following David Wagner’s departure on Monday evening but the former defender could barely face a stiffer opening test.

Huddersfield were hammered 6-1 when they last faced City and furthermore, they have failed to win any of their last 10 matches in all competitions.

Latest odds

Florent Hadergjonaj Huddersfield Town 2019

Given the apparent gulf in class between the teams, it is unsurprising that SportPesa make Manchester City their 4/27 (1.15) favourites.

Huddersfield are a 19/1 (20.0) chance to give Hudson a dream debut in the dugout. and SportPesa go 29/4 (8.25) that the hosts pick up a precious point against the defending champions.

Team news

City have no fresh concerns. Sergio Aguero, who hit a hat-trick against Huddersfield in August, could return to the starting line-up here. Gabriel Jesus, though, is surely pushing for a spot after scoring seven goals in his last three games.

Abdelhamid Sabiri, Tommy Smith and Aaron Mooy all miss out again for the Terriers.

Sergio Aguero Manchester City 2018-19

Shot-shy hosts?

Huddersfield have scored just 13 league goals so far this season – scoring just three times in their last eight games in all competitions.

City have scored 19 goals without reply in their last three games, including thumping 7-0 and 9-0 wins in cup competition, and no side has scored more frequently than the men from Manchester in the top tier this term.

SportPesa offer 20/27 (1.74) that City score more than two goals in West Yorkshire whilst the same firm go 20/33 (1.61) that Guardiola’s side win to nil against the toothless Terriers.

Huddersfield Manchester City graphic

Prediction

Without a win in 10 matches, the Terriers look to be destined for the drop.

Manchester City have been ruthless in recent weeks and this could prove to be something of a one-sided contest, so it is SportPesa’s 11/10 (2.10) quote for Manchester City (-2) to beat the handicap mark could represent real value ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

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