Match Preview: Crystal Palace vs West Bromwich Albion


By - Saturday 8th February, 2014

Matt Woosnam previews a winnable home match for Palace


Is today the day Glenn Murray makes his return? Photo by Tom Brogan, used under Creative Commons (http://goo.gl/MXJ6iW)

Another season in the Premier League is vital to the redevelopment plans for Selhurst Park, but defeat at Arsenal on Sunday did nothing to help Crystal Palace’s cause in their quest to avoid relegation back to the second tier of English football. In the Emirates’ board room, Eagles’ co-chairman Steve Parish may well have been taking notes of what was a wonderful piece of architecture from the outside; but an abysmal, dull, uninspiring bowl lacking in character and soul. Palace fans were widely acknowledged for their impressive vocal backing last week; and that will be needed more than ever when their team takes on West Bromwich Albion for the third time this season, at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Baggies, under new management in the form of vastly experienced Spanish coach Pepe Mel, are searching for their first victory since defeating Newcastle on New Year’s Day. A credible draw at home to Liverpool last time out followed an entertaining match at Villa Park nine days previously, although it was the home side who ran out narrow victors in the West Midlands derby. During the transfer window, the Baggies lost star striker Shane Long to Hull City for a fee of around £7m, but failed to strengthen their squad significantly; perhaps as a consequence shooting themselves in the foot somewhat.

Nonetheless, they are no easy proposition and Palace will need to be wary not to be complacent; particularly with the dangerous Saido Berahino and Victor Anichebe to threaten the defence, and the likes of Yousouff Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob to secure a strong midfield and protect their back four. Morgan Amalfitano has proven this season that he can be a handful on the wing and Palace will do well to marshal him.

Murray came through a behind closed doors training match unscathed

Palace will be able to call on all of their deadline day signings after they were not registered in time for last Sunday’s match with Arsenal. Tom Ince is almost certain to start on the wing with Jason Puncheon occupying the other wing; with Marouane Chamakh likely to start in a deep attacking role with Cameron Jerome as the lone striker.

In central midfield, new signing Joe Ledley could displace Kagisho Dikgacoi, although Tony Pulis noted that his new recruits were not guaranteed a start. Joel Ward will remain at right-back and hope to improve on what was perhaps his worst performance in a Palace shirt on Sunday. Although the club signed Scott Dann on deadline day, it is unlikely that the excellent defensive partnership of Danny Gabbidon and Damien Delaney will be broken up by Tony Pulis, and so Dann will have to wait for another day to make his Palace bow.

There are no new injury concerns for the Eagles, and the promising news that will be like music to the ears of Palace fans, is that striker Glenn Murray could potentially make the substitutes’ bench this Saturday. Tony Pulis was coy on the likelihood of the scenario, but refused to rule it out after Murray came through a behind closed doors training match unscathed. Should Murray indeed appear on the bench, Eagles supporters should be cautious of expecting too much from the man who has been out of action for almost a year.

Stephane Sessegnon remains absent for West Brom with a groin injury, while Jonas Olsson and controversial striker Nicolas Anelka are also sidelined through injury. However, winger James Morrison returns to the squad and will hope to play some part; and new signing Thievy Bifouma is set for a place on the bench.

A relegation six pointer and perhaps a must win for both sides, it will be a tight affair in what is expected to be poor weather conditions; but Palace will be buoyed by the skill and ability of Tom Ince on the wing, and it is this that should see them defeat West Brom for the second time in the last three meetings between the sides.

Prediction
Crystal Palace 2-0 West Bromwich Albion.

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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