After 78 minutes of the identical fixture last season, Liverpool were leading 3-0 and looked destined to remind Manchester City that their title-winning fate was in their own hands.
At the full-time whistle, Luis Suarez was escorted off the pitch in tears by Steven Gerrard after a resilient Crystal Palace fought back to earn an astonishing 3-3 draw. Tony Pulis’ super-sub Dwight Gayle scored the decisive brace to send Selhurst Park into raptures and Liverpool into despair.
Since then, both teams have lost their most influential figures. LMA Manager of the Season Pulis left Crystal Palace by mutual consent after disagreeing with Palace co-chairman Steven Parish over the club's summer transfer policy. Whereas, Liverpool's 31-goal hitman Suarez joined Barcelona in a deal worth £65 million.
South London misery
So far, Neil Warnock's return to Selhurst Park has been a misery. His reign has been gloomily overshadowed by his accusation against referee Craig Pawson being "influenced" by Chelsea players. The FA reacted by fining Warnock £9,000 for bringing the game into disrepute for suggesting that a referee was motivated by bias.
Liverpool have also experienced an abysmal start to their 2014/15 campaign. At this stage last season the Reds had won seven, drawn two and lost two. This season they have won four, drawn two and lost five. In turn, matching their total amount of league losses during the 2013/14 season.
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Suarez leaving Liverpool has created a huge loss of confidence amongst Brendan Rodgers' young-side. A confidence, which was supposed to have been regenerated by the attacking-signings of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli who were brought at a total cost of £64.8 million.
Balotelli has only rewarded Rodgers' blind-faith by scoring against Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League and Swansea City in the Capital One Cup. Already, the Kop has given up on their temperamental signing, which has left Rodgers praying for the past three months for Daniel Sturridge’s return to fitness.
Liverpool's £25 million signing Lallana told NBC Sports: "I knew it wasn't going to be easy. After losing Suarez and missing Sturridge up top lately, it's been difficult. But we've had to find different ways of winning games; other people have had to chip in with goals."
In the Premier League, chipping in and winning games has proven to be a difficult task for Liverpool. This season, Raheem Sterling is Liverpool's top goal scorer with three goals in eight appearances. At the same time last season, Suarez and Sturridge had scored eight goals apiece.
Sturridge has not played for Liverpool since 31 August, after suffering a thigh injury whilst on duty with England. He told reporters in October: “Maybe it’s my body type, maybe it’s hereditary. Both my uncles had injuries, and my dad had them as well. Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibes."
After Rodgers revealed that Sturridge would be ready for action against Palace, the “Caribbean vibes” struck once again. This week, Sturridge suffered a thigh injury in training and the scans have revealed that he will face a further six weeks on the sidelines.
With Palace spiralling towards the relegation zone, a struggling Liverpool will be hell-bent on avenging the misery wrought upon them at Selhurst Park last season. The Reds will be gunning for the relegation-threatened Palace defence, leaving an immense weight of pressure upon Balotelli's isolated shoulders.
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