Crystal Palace take on West Ham United this Saturday in a crucial London derby at Selhurst Park.
Both sides have suffered miserable campaigns thus far in the Premier League this season. Palace sit bottom of the table with eight defeats in nine matches whilst the Hammers have greatly under-performed after heavy investment in the summer window. West Ham were humiliated last Friday night in a 0-3 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, but since won 2-3 at Wembley against rivals Tottenham in the Carabao Cup this week. Palace, on the other hand, narrowly lost to Newcastle 0-1 last time out in the Premier League before being annihilated 4-1 by Bristol City in the league cup.
Despite being less than a quarter of the way through the season, this fixture already represents a proverbial six-pointer for the London clubs. West Ham boss Slavan Bilić knows defeat will likely spell the end of his reign in charge at the London Stadium, whereas Palace acknowledge a defeat will leave them cut adrift at the bottom.
The recent history of this fixture is unwelcome reading for Crystal Palace as the Hammers have won on their last three successive visits to Selhurst Park. It represents the away side’s longest winning run across the capital, as last season’s 0-1 victory was the beginning of the end for then Eagles boss Alan Pardew. More recently played as a late October fixture over the past few seasons, it sparks déjà vu for Palace fans who see the visitors as something of a bogey side. As bleak as it seems for West Ham, Palace always seem to outdo them and surrender. Manuel Lanzini has scored in each of his four matches against Palace for Slavan Bilić’s side, who he himself hasn’t lost to in those four games as manager.
After the most unlikely of victories from 2-0 down against Spurs on Wednesday night, West Ham may keep much of their starting eleven together when they return to league action this weekend. Michail Antonio remains a doubt after missing the mid-week win through a rib injury, but James Collins and Diafra Sakho will definitely be absent through respective ankle and back problems. Bilić has a lot of options available for the game at Palace and will have to get his team selection and tactics spot on to save his job.
Palace, meanwhile, will almost certainly retain the starting eleven who unluckily lost to Newcastle in the league last Saturday. The second-string Eagles side who totally embarrassed the club mid-week, however, will not be giving manager Roy Hodgson a headache for his tactical thinking. There was no bad luck about the game at Ashton Gate and he expects his first-choice eleven to get the good fortune they deserve this time out. James McArthur is the one injury Palace are sweating over after the Scotland international sat out training sessions this week. Chung-Yong Lee picked up a knock in Bristol on Tuesday, but is not a player worth worrying about for Palace. Christian Benteke will be in the fan-zone from around midday on Saturday, but he remains injured until December along with fellow striker Connor Wickham. Jason Puncheon is one yellow card away from a disciplinary suspension.
West Ham have been pretty shocking this season, but how can we as Palace fans dare point the finger at our London neighbours? Anything they do badly, we seem to do worse! If the two clubs were summed up in a meme together this season, it would be something along the lines of –
*West Ham turn in the worst performance of the season*
Crystal Palace: Hold my beer…
Surely Palace can’t lose again, another game, surely… when will it stop? I’m hoping we put in another performance similar to the win over Chelsea and we need to win! We have to gamble, but a draw seems respectable enough to keep both sides from total obliteration and Bilić happy (and employed). Although, I may be clutching at straws as we always lose to them (and everybody!). 1-1
Fact of the Day: Javier Hernández hasn’t had a shot on target in three Premier League games, despite having the fourth best all-time goals per minute ratio since English top-flight records began. (You know what that means?!)