Luka Milivojević: The Eagle who continues to soar


Looming threat of relegation at Selhurst Park

Balancing precariously above the drop zone in this season's Premier League table, life played out with the ongoing prospect of relegation has become standard procedure for Crystal Palace. Last term the club started terribly under Frank de Boer and were forced to take a completely different approach extremely early on, hiring veteran boss Roy Hodgson to steer them away from danger. The former England boss did just that, transforming things drastically in South London, securing top-flight football for at least another season after guiding Palace to a comfortable 11th placed finish.

This time around, much of the same problems that followed the Eagles last season have reared their ugly heads once more, namely their lack of consistent goalscorers. Sat just three points above the relegation zone as things stand, though Palace wouldn't be the first side mentioned when discussing candidates for the drop this term, they still find themselves very much in the mix. Huddersfield and Fulham already look doomed and with Southampton, Newcastle, Burnley, Brighton and Palace all separated by the finest of margins in the bottom half of the division, there's everything to play for right now.

Next month is absolutely pivotal for Roy Hodgson's side as they look to pull themselves away from danger. The Londoners go up against Burnley, Brighton, and Huddersfield throughout March, before a trip to Newcastle kicks off April. It's make or break for Palace at the moment, they could quite easily widen the gap between themselves and the rest of the relegation-threatened pack with a couple of positive results against teams in a similar position, or fall further down the table with a run of poor performances. One man who is absolutely vital for them though is their no nonsense, tough tackling, goalscoring leader Luka Milivojević, who's importance to the Eagles is as big as Wilfried Zaha's, just without all the hype.

Palace's not so secret weapon

Serbian midfield general Luka Milivojević, who joined Palace from Olympiacos back in 2017, has now established himself as one of the Premier League's most consistent performers. Last season he made headway in the top-flight by scoring ten goals for the Eagles as they rose from the foot of the table to the top half of the division. This time around, the 27-year-old has already notched seven goals and been the difference for the South London outfit as they've beaten the likes of Manchester City away from home and held Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

Although 90% of Milivojević's goals come from the penalty spot, the fact that he has only missed two of his 17 spot kicks in a Palace shirt is testament to his character. The Serbian has nerves of steel and can always be depended on to deliver when his side need him most, which is a great deal of the time. Milivojević also currently finds himself 18th in the list of successful passes made in the Premier League this term, ahead of players like David Silva and Christian Eriksen which further highlights his ability.

Palace's number 4 is a classy player, comfortable in possession and positionally disciplined out of it. He controls the tempo of a football match, picking passes when he feels the time is right, assisting the Eagles' more creative influences in the final third - without him, it's difficult to agree with anyone saying that Palace would remain outside of the bottom three. Milivojević was an understated player who's performances frequently slipped under the radar, but he is now becoming a player of real substance and it's only so long before one of the big boys come knocking.

The Serbian is Palace's joint-top goalscorer this season with seven.

Milivojević is vital for the South Londoners

With seven goals to his name this season - six from the spot - Milivojević is on course to finish the campaign as Crystal Palace's top goalscorer for the second consecutive season. With 10 goals to show for his efforts last time out, his importance to the club needs no further explanation. Palace are one of the lowest scoring sides in the whole division this season with 27 goals scored - only Fulham, Cardiff, Newcastle and Huddersfield have managed less.

Milivojević and winger Andros Townsend are the only players to have scored more than five goals for the Eagles this time around, while 'main man' Wilfried Zaha trails the pair by two goals alongside Jeffrey Schlupp. Michy Batshuayi was brought in on loan from Chelsea last month to help out with the supply of goals at Selhurst Park, however based on his early performances for his new team, the dependance on Milivojević's services don't look like slowing down any time soon.

Palace's dependence on Milivojević isn't just because of his goalscoring habits though, it is much more than that. No other player in the Eagles' squad has played more minutes than the Serbian - he has started all 26 of Palace's Premier League fixtures so far, rested only for their cup matches against Grimsby, Swansea and West Brom. Milivojević is the leader at Palace, he's the man who rallies the team should they need a boost and leads by example in the heart of the midfield, without him they'd be lost.

Doncaster performance epitomised the Serbian's game

With so many similar upsets featuring in this season's competition, Sunday's FA Cup fifth round clash against League One Doncaster Rovers looked to be a potential banana skin on paper. Instead, Palace cruised to a 2-0 victory at the Keepmoat, resisting pressure from Grant McCann's men throughout the encounter.

Milivojević put in a typically professional performance on Sunday, once again dictating play in the middle of the park and controlling the tempo of the match. He had 96 touches of the ball during the clash - more than anyone on the pitch - whilst also making five key passes, which was again more than anybody from either side managed in South Yorkshire. Defensively, Milivojević's performance epitomised all that he is about. The 27-year-old made five tackles, four interceptions and four clearances, dwarfing any other player on the pitch.

The midfielder also completed 67 passes throughout the 90 minutes, 88% of which were accurate, and yes, you guessed it, that was more than anyone else on the field. To put it into context, left-back Patrick van Aanholt finished the game with the second highest amount of passes and it was still ten less than the Serbian managed. Milivojević is now talked about by many in the same breath as the Premier League's best central midfielders and it's clear to understand why. Should he continue to demonstrate the same form as he has done for the previous two seasons, whilst maintaining an almost perfect record from the penalty spot, it's almost certain that we'll see Milivojević poached by one of the Premier League's biggest sides.

For now though, the Serbian's priorities lie firmly with Crystal Palace as they look to pull away from the drop zone and obtain a top half finish for the first time in four seasons. Winning the FA Cup is also now a real possibility following Sunday's win over Doncaster, and with just four higher ranked sides left in the competition, the Eagles have a real shot of avenging the final defeat suffered by Manchester United in 2016.

One thing is for sure, we'd fancy them to beat anyone on penalties.

Milivojevic put in another flawless display against Doncaster in Sunday's FA Cup clash.

New customers only. First single & e/w bet only. Odds of 1/1 or greater. 2 x £10 bet tokens. Free bet stakes not included in returns. Free bets exclude virtuals. Free bets are non withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions. Further t&cs apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus
🔴 BET £10 & GET £30 IN FREE BETS! ⚫️
New customers only. Place a £10 fixed odds bet min odds 1/2, 2 x £10 free bets & 2x free spread bets. Free bets awarded on consecutive days. Full t&c’s apply.
Claim Bonus
1st time depositors only. Min. deposit £10. Use code FAPOKER. Free Play given as cash, Spin & Go tickets, and a Sports Free Bet over 6 days. Tickets expire after 24 hours. Withdrawal restricted during bonus period. Terms apply.
Claim Bonus
⚪️ Get £40 FREE BETS when you bet £10 (mobile only) ⚪️
New customers who register via Mobile only, min £10/€10 stake, win only, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 4 x £10/€10 (30 day expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply
Claim Bonus
Place a £10 Sportsbook bet on any Football market between January 7th - February 6th, at min. odds 1/2 (1.5) — get £40 in free bets, valid 30 days. Your qualifying bet must settle before 23:59 February 6th. Only deposits via Cards will qualify. Free bets will be awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled. T&Cs apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus
Place a £10 bet on football (Jan 7 - 15), at min. odds 1/5 (1.2) — get £60 in free bets. £40 free bets will be awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled and £20 free bet the following day. Only deposits via cards will qualify, Apple pay not valid on this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔥 ✅ BET £10 & GET £60 IN FREE BETS! ✅ 🔥
New UK customers only. Register using the promo code BETFRED60, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+). First bet must be on Sports. £20 in Free Bets to be used on Sports, £10 in Free Bets to be used on Lotto and 50 Free Spins (20p per spin) credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. Further £20 in Free Bets credited 5 days after settlement. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
18+, Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st Deposit, Min Deposit,: £10, max £20 free bets valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement.
Claim Bonus
New customers only. Min deposit and bet £10 (£20 if E/W bet) from UK debit card only. Min odds evens (1/5 per leg in multi selection). £10 Free Bet vaild for 7 days, stake not returned, no Cash Out, max winnings £5k. T&C’s apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus

🏆 Money Back as CASH up to £20 if your first bet loses! 🏆
New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any Football market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using cards will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🟢 Bet £10 & Get £50 in free bets! 🟡
Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
New UK customers only. Min Deposit: £5. Maximum Free Bet: £30. First bet on a Football multiple with 3+ selections. Overall odds: 3.00 (2/1) or higher. Free Bets available upon settlement of the qualifying bet. Debit card deposits only. This is offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. 18+ Full terms apply. 18+.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & get £30 in bonuses! 🌟
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply. | Please gamble responsibly
Claim Bonus