After what was a disastrous start to the season, Roy Hodgson has resurrected Crystal Palace and has carried them to mid-table – 13th. The Eagles are however just three points ahead of the relegation zone and cannot afford to slip as the teams are separated by only a handful of points.
Interestingly, they would be facing West Ham United, and the Hammers currently sit just two positions and a point ahead of Palace. The Eagles don’t have a good record against the East Londoners having failed to win even once in their last five games.
Summer acquisition Mamadou Sakho has been out since the second week of December with a calf injury and is expected to spend time on the sidelines. Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon have not featured ever since the end-of-the-year clash against Manchester City. Both players remain important to the team’s functioning and the manager will be hoping for their comeback soon. Even Ruben Loftus-Cheek is yet to play since that busy Christmas period owing to an ankle injury.
Here’s how the away side could line up against West Ham at the London Stadium.
The goalkeeping glove has been shared between Wayne Hennessey and Julian Speroni this season. However, the gaffer seems to prefer Hennessey to his more experienced counterpart and expect that to happen again.
Timothy-Fosu Mensah and Patrick van Aanholt will occupy the two fullback positions. Both of them add pace and strength to the flanks and are threats while going ahead.
Martin Kelly and James Tomkins have been the two centre-backs in recent games and that could be the case again. Tomkins has earned plaudits for his positioning and demonstration of strength and defensive awareness inside the box.
Yohan Cabaye adds a creative element to this team as the veteran is crucial component during set pieces and transitional play.
Luka Milivojevic is the all-round player that holds Hodgson’s team together. He adds a decent defensive cover to the team, in addition to bringing the goal-scoring touch from midfield too. He has scored five goals in the League so far, helping Palace during the times when their other forwards have been wasteful in front of the goal. James McArthur will complete the three-man midfield for the Eagles.
Wilfried Zaha is a potent threat from the left wing. His impeccable dribbling ability helps him to cut in and create, as well as finish off chances for his team. Unsurprisingly, Palace look short of ideas without him.
Christian Benteke will hope to finish the final quarter of the season on a good note after being lacklustre for major parts of this campaign. He’ll lead the line Bakary Sako is currently in his purple patch for Palace and will want to make the most out of the opportunity again on the wings.