Neither side have won a game in the new year and will view the upcoming clash as a chance to claim a rare victory.
West Ham’s week from hell
The Hammers have had a week that they would much rather forget. Slaven Bilic’s side were condemned to an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup last Friday, before Bilic confirmed in the week that star man Dimitri Payet has refused to play for the Club since having a transfer request turned down.
The news about Payet’s defiance has come as a shock to the Club and it will certainly be interesting to see how much the news affects the side on Saturday. The Frenchman, whose international career has been rekindled thanks to his fine form for the Hammers, has been forced to train with the Club’s under-23 side although Bilic confirmed that West Ham will not sell their best player.
Eagles looking for improvement under Allardyce
The South Londoners are without a win in four games since replacing Alan Pardew with Sam Allardyce, but the Club is certainly showing signs of slow improvement under the former West Ham manager. Allardyce removed Keith Millen and Andy Woodman from the coaching team earlier in the week, replacing the pair with Sammy Lee and Martyn Margetson respectively.
The additions to the coaching team adds some much-needed experience to the backroom staff, with both men previously working at international level. The coaching staff at Selhurst Park have often been criticised for their lack of experience.
Palace will also have several players back from injury soon, with the depleted squad being a big factor in their poor form. Captain Scott Dann, midfielder James McArthur and striker Christian Benteke could all return for the weekend’s game. The Eagles will also have Jeffrey Schlupp available for selection following his move from Leicester City on Friday afternoon.
With Payet absent indefinitely, West Ham will need to rely on fellow creative midfielder Manuel Lanzini to step up and fill the shoes of the Frenchman. The Argentina international has a good record against the Eagles, scoring in all three of his appearances against Palace.
Meanwhile, Benteke will hope to end a six-game goal drought if he returns from a shoulder injury. The Belgium international comically skied a penalty in the reverse fixture.
Michail Antonio and James Collins are both doubts for the hosts due to illness and a hamstring problem respectively. Diafro Sakho (back), Alvaro Arbeloa (calf), Arthur Masuaku and Gokhan Tore (both knee) are all ruled out through injury. Andre Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate remain with their respective countries for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, which starts this weekend.
Meanwhile, Palace’s absentee list could be reduced from ten to six with McArthur, Benteke, Dann and Wayne Hennessey all expected to return. Pape Souare (leg), Jonathan Benteke, Steve Mandanda and Connor Wickham (all knee) remain out through injury. Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako are with their respective African nations. James Tomkins is set to start against his former Club.