Two London clubs who have been responsible for some surprising results so far in this Premier League season clash at Selhurst Park, as fourth-placed Crystal Palace take on a West Ham United side that lies a point and two places behind.
The home side are targeting their third consecutive victory after edging past Watford and overcoming the stubborn resistence of a dreadfully dour West Bromwich Albion rearguard action, with their only defeats so far coming narrowly against sides who finished in the top five last term. Palace are a threat to any side in the Premier League, so as Alan Pardew looks to get the better of his former club, opposite number Slaven Bilic will pay them due respect.
One of the top-flight’s most surprising statistics was finally ended last time out, as Yannick Bolasie scored his first home goal since netting in a Championship match in January 2013. For such a key figure in the Eagles’ attacking setup, it was an immensely lengthy wait, but he appears on song, as does Wilfried Zaha, whose recent upturn in form has shown why he has been capped by England, and that he once cost some £15m.
After three away wins out of three at the home of a trio of illustrious clubs, Bilic warned that the trip to struggling Sunderland would be the biggest test so far for his side, and as it turned out they were fortunate to come away with a point. Some sloppy play saw them fall two goals behind, and it eventually took a game-changing goal just before half-time and a sending off to inspire their comeback. That said, the it was further evidence that this Hammers is team is more than adept at retrieving deficits.
There will be a huge number of attacking players on display here, with Palace’s array of pacy attackers matched by the presence of Dimitri Payet and Victor Moses. The former was on the scoresheet again on Wearside and his creativity will cause problems for a home defence which has proved difficult to breach of late. The away team won 3-1 on both meetings between the sides in 2014-15, but the indications are that this will be closer, though certainly entertaining.
Joel Ward, Marouane Chamakh and Connor Wickham are all still out for Crystal Palace, but on the positive they have four players back. Lee Chung-Yong, Damien Delaney, Mile Jedinak and Jordon Mutch all return.
West Ham are waiting on the fitness of Aaron Cresswell and Winston Reid, both of whom are nursing injuries. Angelo Ogbonna could be back after a hamstring problem but Enner Valencia is definitely out.
Played for both – Danny Gabbidon: The Welsh international central defender joined West Ham upon their promotion back to the Premier League in 2005 and was a reliable figure, making 96 appearances without scoring. In 2013, he helped Palace to promotion and then scored once in 23 outings in the top-flight as they finished a highly respectable 11th.