After a big win at home The Eagles will go on the road to face off in a London Derby against West Ham.
Last week was an ideal result for Palace as they earned a key three points at home against newly promoted Norwich City. Palace currently sit in a comfortable ninth place and within a win’s reach of the top four. This is also a big game as their run of matches following the West Ham game are Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. With this brutal run of games coming up getting a result and making it three games unbeaten could be key to building confidence.
West Ham have enjoyed a strong start to the season and currently sit in fifth place. The Hammers have not lost in the Premier League since their opening weekend humiliation at the hands of Champions Manchester City. After numerous summers of big spending there is optimism among West Ham players and fans alike that they could make a breakthrough into European Football this season. Crystal Palace have also not had a great record against West Ham recently with their last victory coming in 2015 courtesy of a Glenn Murray brace and a Scott Dann header.
Expect manager Roy Hodgson to roll out a line-up very similar to the one that took all three points as Selhurst Park last weekend. Martin Kelly stepped up admirably when filling in for the injured again Mamadou Sakho last week and should hold his place alongside Cary Cahill after what has been a very strong start to the season for the Englishman. The question will come in midfield where captain Luka Milivojević will be force to miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. This could lead to a recall for Max Meyer or Andros Townsend, fresh off a goal, or potentially an introduction for James McCarthy or the seemingly exiled Víctor Camarasa.
A look at the West Ham squad revels one of great quality especially in the attacking areas. Wingers Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini, and Felipe Anderson combine with summer signing Sébastien Haller at striker to form a threatening front line. Meanwhile rising star Declan Rice has firmly established himself not only for The Hammers but for the England National Team as well. One of the keys to West Ham’s improvement this year has been a much improved defense let by Rice in midfield but also a back line that has been very consistent with young Frenchman Issa Diop partnering well with veteran Angelo Ogbonna.
The spotlight will fall on two places on the pitch this weekend. The first of which will be on right-back Joel Ward. The veteran is Palace’s longest tenured player and the only one remaining from the club’s last spell in the Championship. There were questions going into the season about the decision not to sign a right-back after the departure of revelation Aaron Wan-Bissaka but to his credit Ward has silenced most of them with assured play at the back. Ward will come up directly against dangerous Brazilian Felipe Anderson and will have to play tight defence to prevent more stunning strikes like the one Anderson unleashed on Palace last season. The second will fall in midfield where someone will have to step up and fill the void left by
Milivojević both in terms of play and in leadership. West Ham have a decent midfield with the likes of Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere joining Rice in a group that are capable of taking control of a game if given the time to do so. Luka’s absence will likely make the role of former Hammer Cheikhou Kouyaté even more important as his defensive skills will be essential in helping to support the defence against West Ham’s dangerous attackers.
This fixture is certainly one that has experienced its share of drama in recent years with late goals and red cards making the match consistently entertaining. This will be a difficult match for The Eagles but with the defence looking as strong as they have, Tottenham game not included, there should be hope about getting a result in East London. If Wilfried Zaha continues to push toward his best form and the midfield steps up without Luka expect a good away day for the fans who make the trip across the city.