Palace get their Premier League Asia Trophy campaign up and running tomorrow when they take on Liverpool in the Hong Kong Stadium in a 8.30pm kick-off HK time, or 1.30pm back in the UK.
The game will provide Frank de Boer with his first real chance to see his first-team players in match action, having overseen a youthful Eagles team beat Maidstone United 3-1 on Saturday. A 25-man squad has made the near 6,000 mile trip to the Far East, where they will take on the Reds with the winners moving into the final to face the victors of the Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion semi-final which takes place immediately before Palace’s game.
With the two sides due to lock horns in Premier League action at Anfield in exactly a month’s time, it will provide De Boer with useful insight into Jurgen Klopp’s side as well as handing his players an opportunity to be in contention for a starting berth when the season gets going.
Reds’ preparations well underway
Having secured qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season, the Reds have a hectic pre-season schedule which will see them take in games in Hong Kong, Germany and Ireland. Before jetting off for the Asia Cup, they beat Tranmere Rovers last Wednesday 4-0 thanks to goals from James Milner, Marko Grujić, Pedro Chirivella and Ben Woodburn. Two days later, they took on Wigan Athletic and drew 1-1.
Meanwhile, Klopp has been able to strengthen his squad by bringing in two new faces. Mohamed Salah completed a £37 million move from Roma at the start of the month, with the Egyptian international striker returning to England having previously featuring for Chelsea and netted on hos debut against the Latics. Another former Blue has also pitched up at Anfield in the form of Dominic Solanke, who made the switch to the Reds after his contract at Stamford Bridge expired.
Jurgen Klopp: “The Premier League gave us a nice challenge that we can only involve 25 players, so if you take three goalkeepers then you can only have 22 [outfielders] in the squad for this tournament. That’s quite difficult.
“If I would be poker player, I would say maybe we should not show all our cards. But it’s the same probably for Crystal Palace with their new manager with Frank de Boer. It’s not about hiding things; we cannot hide anything anymore so it’s about playing. You have to use these games like the most intense training session you could ever plan, because that’s what we want."
Not included in De Boer’s squad are the likes of Connor Wickham, James McArthur, Pape Souare, Chung-yong Lee and Sullay Kaikai who are all injured. However, new singing Ruben Loftus-Cheek could make his first Eagles appearance in this game, while youngsters Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Nya Kirby could also make their maiden first-team bows.
Sadio Mane has been left on Merseyside as the winger continues to recover from a knee injury that saw him miss the final month of last season, as has Mamadou Sakho. Emre Can has been given more time off after playing for Germany in the Confederations Cup, while Danny Ings and Harry Wilson are also injured.
Watch out for
The two new faces in the Reds squad could pose some of the biggest threats to the Eagles over the course of the 90 minutes. Salah made just six Premier League starts during his two years with Chelsea, and was farmed out on loan to Fiorentina for the second half of the 2014/15 campaign where he impressed. He has been on loan at Roma for the past two campaigns and netted 34 goals in 43 games in the Italian capital, helping them to second spot in Serie A last season.
Solanke meanwhile was named the Player of the Tournament during England under-20s’ successful U20 World Cup success during the summer. The attacker, who agreed to join Liverpool before the tournament kicked off, scored four times including twice in the semi-final success over Italy, having made just a solitary appearance in his Chelsea career.
Last time we met
It was just 86 days ago that Christian Benteke came back to haunt his former club as Palace beat the Reds 2-1 at Anfield to claim their third successive win at the venue. Philippe Coutinho had given the home side the lead with a fine free-kick after 24 minutes, however Benteke would level with three minutes of the first half remaining, before heading his team ahead on 74 minutes to help Palace take a massive step towards Premier League safety.
Tickets, travel and coverage
All tickets for both days of the Premier League Asia Trophy are sold out.
All four games will take place at the Hong Kong Stadium, which is based at 55 Eastern Hospital Road, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay.
The nearest train station is Causeway Bay, Exit F (Hong Kong Line), which is a 15-minute walk away. It also served by Citybus number 5, KMB number 678 and number 936.
British supporters can watch the game live on Sky Sports, with highlights uploaded to Palace TV around four hours after the game’s conclusion. You can also follow the game live by following us on Twitter.