West Ham United will look to end their three-match losing run away from home when they travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Hammers are winless in their last four games in all competition, and will look to collect three points and move in the right direction in the table.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, have picked up four points from their last two games, and will look to keep up the good run.
Here are three key battles that could potentially decide the outcome of the game.
Wilfried Zaha is available against West Ham this weekend despite being handed a one-game suspension, which won’t come into effect while the player considers his right to appeal.
This will be a big boon for Roy Hodgson, who might deploy the former Manchester United star on the right-wing. Zaha’s explosive pace coupled with his willingness to take on defenders will certainly test Ryan Fredericks this Saturday.
Fredericks was given the nod ahead of Pablo Zabaleta against Liverpool and we expect the 26-year-old to retain his place in the starting lineup this weekend.
However, having played so little football over the course of this season, it will be interesting to see how Fredericks deals with the explosive Zaha on the right flank.
Palace have been boosted by the return of Christian Benteke, whose form has been on the up, even though the former Liverpool star is still yet to find the back of the net this season. And we expect the 28-year-old to start over Michy Batshuayi once again this weekend.
Benteke’s aerial prowess and physicality will certainly help the hosts in not only putting pressure on the defenders but also in set-pieces, where the likes of Luka Milivojevic and Zaha are both capable of delivering good crosses.
West Ham, on the other hand, have been able to keep only one clean sheet following the injury of key defender Fabian Balbuena.
Manuel Pellegrini will hope that defensive duo of Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna will be able to keep the Belgian forward at bay.
Marko Arnautovic is poised to make his return from injury, after working hard the entire week. The Austrian international might replace Javier Hernandez as the lone forward for West Ham on Sunday.
The former Stoke City star certainly offers a physical presence in the final third while his runs and dribbling ability might create a myriad of problems for the Crystal Palace defence.
The onus will be on the central defensive duo of James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho to stop the West Ham star from finding any space or freedom in the attacking third.
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