Liverpool vs Crystal Palace will be a reminder of Philippe Coutinho, but not for the reason you think

Liverpool’s first competitive game at Anfield since the Premier League resumption occurs on Wednesday night when they host Crystal Palace.

There will be no supporters inside the stadium, but Liverpool will focus anyway: a win takes them one step closer to passing that scoreboard they need to confirm their title crown.

While most of the focus will be on that, Jurgen Klopp and his coaches and players will have their eyes on getting the job done.

Tactically, they will be prepared, and those tactics could be even more obvious given the lack of noise from the crowd.

Their opponents, Roy Hodgson’s team, will be tough clients and, in fact, will remain the last team to beat the Reds at Anfield in the Premier League in April 2017.

But they will have a key threat, which has caused Liverpool trouble many times in the past, and will need careful management.

Speaking on the Analyzing Anfield podcast, Josh Williams explained: “Wilfried Zaha is the key man and if you look at the average positions in Palace’s most-used formation, the left striker is the player closest to the goal.

“He is the man they are trying to play with. With that threat behind him, he is offering a dynamics relatively similar to that offered by Sadio Mane and Liverpool will have to deal with it.”

“It is crucial to bring them to the field because they tend to sit very deeply and it is really important in terms of moving into the penalty area.”

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In a way, it works for Crystal Palace that their attacks already tend to avoid the right side of the field, where left-back center defender Virgil van Dijk will line up with the Reds. But still, Liverpool is a great favorite.

David Hughes added: “It kind of reminds me of Philippe Coutinho’s era of Liverpool 4-3-3, where there was so much confidence in one player and that player is the focus of all possession.”

“He’s almost alone and it’s like ‘give him the ball.’ If you keep him quiet, that basically nullifies his biggest threat.”

In the past, against lower opponents at Anfield, Liverpool would tend to seek Coutinho’s creativity to get a moment of magic to break the deadlock.

That is no longer the case, with variance and unpredictability the key.

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The only danger to opponents is no longer a player, with Mane and Mohamed Salah in wide areas at the top, and Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold behind them only four attack threats.

Playing Crystal Palace on Wednesday night will be a reminder of that, but also a reminder, given the confidence of Hodgson’s men in Zaha, of what used to be the case for them with Coutinho.