Match Preview: Crystal Palace vs Fulham

By - Sunday 20th October, 2013

After a break for the World Cup qualifiers, Premier League football returns to Selhurst Park for a London derby in front of the Sky Sports cameras

Ian Holloway: Not must-win, but must not lose. Photo by Paul Townsend, used under Creative Commons.

There are numerous clichés bandied about in football, but the phrase “must win game” is probably appropriate for Crystal Palace in their clash with Fulham, despite what Ian Holloway may claim.

Palace face Fulham in Monday night’s Premier League clash, desperate to earn a victory against the team four points ahead of them. Boss Ian Holloway has played down claims that this is a must win game, although he notes that it is a must not lose game instead. However, it is a game worth more than simply three points.

Fulham have been poor thus far this season, but a victory last time out over Stoke City would have raised morale amongst players and fans alike, and it is this which Palace will be looking for on Monday. A victory would be a morale boost, and a vital one at that for fans who will back their team to the hilt with ferocious noise when they’re doing well, but are a little more subdued when things are difficult. A renewed vigour would ensue and the confidence from this may propel the players forward into improved performances and consequently better results.

Should Palace fail to win, then they would find themselves with a solitary victory from the opening eight matches, of which four were arguably games in which three points could have been taken. Confidence would continue to sap away and the fans would become more disgruntled, the team being four points from safety with some tough matches to follow.

It was on October 4th 2004 when these two sides met at Selhurst Park for a Premier League match under the lights, with Palace having earned two points from the seven preceding matches. It was the Eagles who took the spoils with a 2-0 victory that night, and a repeat performance would help to kick-start their season this time around, as it did nine years previously.

I expect the Eagles to find a way to continue their phenomenal record under lights at Selhurst Park

There are no new injury concerns for Palace, and the good news is that skipper Paddy McCarthy is expected to be match fit within the next month, whilst Jonathan Parr continues his comeback from a long term injury. Damien Delaney should be fit after coming through the Liverpool match with no ill effects from his previous injury, whilst Danny Gabbidon took part in training over the international break, but may not be risked, with Adrian Mariappa most probably parterning Delaney in the centre of defence.

Former Palace transfer target Darren Bent will be a threat for Fulham. Photo by Vic.t, used under Creative Commons.

Palace will be looking to Joel Ward to continue his superb form at right-back, especially given the tough task of facing Alexander Kacaniklic who is expected to return on the left wing for the Cottagers on Monday. Who Ian Holloway decides to play on the wing is anyone’s guess, with the constant changing of personnel leaving the opposition guessing as to who will play. The Bristolian hinted in his post-match press conference at Anfield that he will play Dwight Gayle through the centre, possibly alongside Marouane Chamakh, although this seems unlikely given his penchant for a 4-3-3 formation. One of the two is likely to miss out on a spot in the starting line-up. Yannick Bolasie may return to the starting line-up following a cameo from the bench against Liverpool.

Former Fulham man Kagisho Dikgacoi looks set to miss out through injury, but Spaniard Jose Campana completed the full match for Spain U21s over the international break and should be in contention to partner either Mile Jedinak and Stuart O’Keefe in the centre, or to take O’Keefe’s spot. Ian Holloway suggested that he would be more attacking, and therefore it is most likely to be either Campana or O’Keefe, rather than both of them.

Fulham have talent in all areas, with Brede Hangelend a daunting presence in defence, Adel Taraabt, Alex Kacaniklic and Bryan Ruiz providing flair and danger in midfield, and Darren Bent, a summer transfer target for Palace, up front.

On paper the Fulham squad looks far superior to that of Palace’s, and surely should be further up the league table, but for some reason I expect the Eagles to find a way to continue their phenomenal record under lights at Selhurst Park and earn a much needed victory.

Crystal Palace 2-1 Fulham.

Crystal Palace vs. Fulham, Monday 21st October, Selhurst Park Stadium. Kick-off 8pm. Coverage on Monday Night Football, Sky Sports 1 from 7pm. Limited tickets remain.

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam

Matt Woosnam is a Kingston University student in his final year as a Politics & International Relations undergraduate. A campaigner on mental health he is the founder of @Talk_Out, as well as part of the TalkEasyTrust, and seeks to break down stigma by encouraging talking out. Matt is also an avid Crystal Palace fan and the online editor of Five Year Plan Fanzine, as well as a regular contributor to the Croydon Guardian.

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  • Jamie

    Well that was an unmitigated disaster

    • MattWoosie

      Indeed! I did say that Fulham had a better squad than us… just didn’t expect it to be shown that way!