Inside Crystal Palace’s Liverpool preparation: Jordan Ayew’s return and set piece work

Crystal Palace have been boosted with the return of striker Jordan Ayew .

Crystal Palace will hope to get their first home win of the year when Liverpool visit Selhurst Park today in the Premier League.

Palace lost to West Ham, then battled to come from a goal down to beat Millwall, before producing a professional performance to earn a point against rivals Brighton at the Amex.

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Patrick Vieira’s side have also kept an eye on the January transfer window with links to Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah and Juventus’ Aaron Ramsey.

On potential outgoings, Christian Benteke has told his team not to entertain talks of a move to Burnley, while Jean-Philippe Mateta looks to have bought himself time in South London with recent improved performances.

So with the kettle boiling ahead of Liverpool’s visit, here is all that has happened in the build up to the titanic game.

GUÉLOR KANGA of Gabon and JORDAN AYEW of Ghana during the Group C (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Jordan Ayew turns down days off and returns to training

Fresh from suffering an AFCON heartbreak, Jordan Ayew returned to Palace’s training ground to offer his availability for the game against Liverpool.

The gesture has been received well by the technical team, who were willing to rest the player and give him time to recover from a promising build up to the AFCON, but ultimately a disappointing campaign in Cameroon.

He’s been in  training on Friday and Saturday, and is now expected to take a place on the bench and hope to get some minutes against Jurgen Klopp’s men.

James Tomkins of Crystal Palace looks on during the Premier League match (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Tomkins and McArthur at various levels of fitness

Jordan Ayew’s return might have boosted the attack, but Palace will be without Scottish midfielder James McArthur and reliable defender James Tomkins.

McArthur spent Friday’s session working in the gym and did some ball work on Saturday, while Tomkins has been working on the field with two technical trainers to improve fitness and enhance conditioning.

Manager Patrick Vieira hinted that both were getting close to full fitness, and could join the first team training next week if they did not suffer a setback.

This will be great news given how other teams are battling with injuries and Covid bouts.

Set-pieces and transitional play takes centre stage during training

The progress in ball retention and passing through the channels have been visible for all to see under Vieira, but there remains a weakness when defending set-pieces and the Frenchman is working hard to correct the weakness and keep player focus.

Friday and Saturday sessions were dominated by set-piece practice, before the team was split into two for a kick about.

The technical staff also briefed players on the importance of keeping in shape to avoid being caught on transition.

It will be interesting to see what difference that makes during the game against Liverpool.

Egypt forward Mohamed Salah. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

What Vieira said about facing Liverpool without Salah and Mane

Patrick Vieira told the press: “This is a team and not just about those two players they are missing.

“With those two they are stronger but still a couple of players playing really well who are fantastic talents.

“The best way to describe this team is as a strong team.

“Before talking about their individual talent it is about the team and this is a strong team.

Patrick Vieira on Burnley’s interest in Christian Benteke

The manager said: “He will be at this football club. Christian loves this football club and he is part of what we are trying to do.

“I shouldn’t even have anything to comment about it because it has crossed my mind that there would be a subject there.

“Christian is a Palace player, he is happy to be here, I am happy for him to be here and we are working together to take the team to a different level.”