Alan Pardew’s side make the short trip to East London as they take on Slaven Bilic’s West Ham side in what is a crucial game for Crystal Palace as they look to finally pick up a league victory in 2016.
Palace have been poor since the turn of the year, and with no wins in the league and a rapid fall from grace in the league; it is beginning to get to that stage where they are looking over their shoulders.
But if they manage to pick up a victory against a rampant Hammers side it will certainly boost confidence and ease the pressure of what could potentially be Pardew’s biggest game of the season against Norwich next weekend, if Palace indeed comes away with nothing from West Ham.
Although they have been performing dreadfully in the league, their saving grace has been the FA Cup. The club are through to their first semi-final since 1990, and on April 24th they take on Watford for the chance to reach the final; but the priority has to be the league, and if Palace does go down this season it will surely be a shock given the quality of Pardew’s side.
London derbies haven’t been Palace’s forte this season; in the six they have played, they have only won one and lost the rest; so the omens don’t look good for Palace.
Last weekend was international week, and all the clubs wait nervously to see if players will come back fit and healthy, but for Pardew it looks as though he has some knocks to key players.
Captain Mile Jedinak will face a late fitness test, as will Yohan Cabaye, and Emmanuel Adebayor who returned to international football with Togo also faces a late fitness test.
Connor Wickham is back in training, but it is unsure whether he will be included in the match-day squad. And James McArthur is the only long-term absentee for Pardew.
West Ham will provide a tough test
It’s been a marvellous season so far for Bilic’s side, they currently sit in fifth place, one point behind Manchester City and five behind Arsenal in third – and with a FA Cup quarter-final replay to look forward to against Manchester United, all is rosy at the Boleyn.
And this week co-owner David Sullivan said the dream would to ‘finish third and win the FA Cup’ and if they carry on it could be a possibility.
In the league they haven’t lost in their last five games, winning three and drawing two and with Dimitri Payet on fire at the moment, they have a player that is capable of producing things rather special.
But Bilic will have to be wary of Palace’s threat, last season Pardew masterminded a 3-1 win as Glenn Murray grabbed a couple.
Bilic has said that the Hammers will have to be ‘wary of Palace’s pace’ as they look to extend their unbeaten run in the league.
Bilic will only be without two players for the visit of the Eagles, meaning it will be a near full strength side; James Collins and Sam Byram are the only players that will be missing for the clash on Saturday afternoon.
With one side flying and the other struggling for form; it could be a cagey affair, but both sides like to attack so we could see a few goals at the Boleyn ground this weekend.