West Ham United continue their attempts to reach next season’s Champions League with a home clash against London rivals Crystal Palace, who desperately need points in order to arrest their slide and secure safety.
By each passing game it is difficult not to be impressed by West Ham, who are full of confidence thanks to being on a run of just two defeats in all competitions since the turn of the year and at the same time are playing an increasingly stylish brand of football. If it were not for the contentious award of a penalty kick late on in their last outing at Chelsea, they would be coming into this one sitting pretty in a top four spot, but the performance at Stamford Bridge was dynamic and riveting throughout.
In the two weeks since, the club has had another boost with Manuel Lanzini having agreed to join on a permanent basis in the summer. The Italian has produced several moments of brilliance in his first Premier League season and like many of his fellow attacking players at the Hammers, has an array of tricks up his sleeve. With Palace possessing their own threat going forward there is reason for the hosts to be a little wary here, but such is their current form one surely cannot look past them for victory.
The sequence of results Crystal Palace have experienced in the Premier League since the beginning of 2016 could hardly differ more to that of their opponents. Not a single win has been achieved and as a consequence they still cannot be discounted from the battle to avoid the drop after sliding all the way down to 16th place, only seven points above the bottom three. Manager Alan Pardew has become visibly concerned as what looked like a potentially great season has faded away quite horribly.
It was not a bad effort from the Eagles before the international break as they were edged out by a single goal at home to leaders Leicester City, but yet another defeat on their own turf would have been demoralising, especially when the biggest threat they seem to carry is from set-pieces and not through the pace of the wide men. Maybe Bakary Sako can change that as he continues to work towards full fitness – the former Wolverhampton Wanderers star’s flair will endanger West Ham.
James Tomkins is available again for West Ham after injury, but fellow defenders James Collins and Sam Byram are still out.
Crystal Palace have doubts over Emmanuel Adebayor, Yohan Cabaye and Mile Jedinak. Meanwhile, Marouane Chamakh, James McArthur and Connor Wickham are all definitely out.
Last Meeting: It was a disgruntled atmosphere at Upton Park in February 2015 as Crystal Palace cantered to a 3-1 victory with the help of two goals from Glenn Murray. The striker got his first four minutes before half-time and netted again following a free-kick shortly after the hour mark. In between, Scott Dann’s header had made it two, while in a brief West Ham rally Enner Valencia netted a consolation before Murray saw red for a second bookable offence.