Our writer previews the EPL clash between Crystal Palace and West Ham which takes place at Selhurst Park on Saturday evening.
Alan Pardew faces his former club in a match that harshly demonstrates how long six months can be in football. Pardew’s head was on the proverbial chopping block six months ago, while West Ham’s trajectory seemed to be invariably upwards. Things have changed.
The move from the Boleyn Ground to the Olympic Stadium has coincided with a dramatic drop in form for West Ham. This has been hugely exacerbated by the type of injury crisis that could derail any side. Palace have benefited hugely from the predatory presence of Christian Benteke and will be full of confidence as West Ham attempt to stop the bleeding.
English Premier League | Saturday 15 October | Selhurst Park | 18:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Crystal Palce 23/20 | Draw 49/20 | West Ham United 47/20
Benteke’s presence has been a massive lift for the club. For ages pundits have been screaming for Palace to find that optimum target man. He scored the fastest ever goal in European World Cup qualifying for Belgium and will be a handful for the slightly cumbersome Collins.
Former Hammers man James Tomkins has fitted in perfectly to the West Ham side. He has been extra valuable in the absence of Scott Dann, who could be making his return to the starting 11 this weekend, lending even more potency from dead-ball scenarios.
Pape Souare remains sidelined after injuring his leg in a horrific car crash, while Jonathan Benteke is unavailable until January with a leg injury. There are similarities between these two sides. Both enjoy playing on the counterattack and have immense pace up front.
Palace will need Joe Ledley and James McArthur to subdue any attacking platforms launched by Dimitri Payet. Palace have a far more stable defensive system and a prolific centre-forward. You feel that they should feel fairly confident of victory if they are able to nullify the brilliance of Payet.
West Ham United
West Ham will be hoping that Aaron Cresswell is able to make a surprise return this weekend. They have suffered tremendously in the full-back roles: Sam Byram’s injury means that former Liverpool right-back Alvaro Arbeloa will likely start this weekend.
Gokhan Tore is now unavailable for up to five weeks while West Ham are still trying to rehabilitate long-term absentees such as Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll. Slaven Bilic needs more from his thin striker options and is likely to start Simone Zaza with little confidence.
In truth, there is little for West Ham to be overly confident over. However, they do possess one of the top five players in the league: Dimitri Payet. The unfortunate symmetry of his brilliance and their dip in form is that he must be thinking of alternative clubs. He has been sensational and Bilic will need him to galvanize this side.
Michail Antonio has been the chief beneficiary of his creative genius, but one expects that this could be one encounter where Antonio’s physical prowess counts for little.
Verdict: Crystal Palace Win (23/20)
Palace have an established defensive line and a striker in top form. West Ham have neither. Their defense is a patchwork while their need for a striker is taking on desperate dimensions.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets