A confident Crystal Palace host an inconsistent West Brom at Selhurst Park on Saturday as the relegation begins to heat up.
Crystal Palace looked certain for relegation when Ian Holloway left earlier in the season, but since Tony Pulis joined the London club the transformation has been remarkable. Getting results from players who were obviously struggling to cut it in the Premier League, Pulis has added to the squad with decent signings such as Tom Ince, Scott Dann and Joe Ledley all joining on deadline day.
West Brom are another team to have changed their manager this season – unjust in some people’s opinion – after appointing Pepe Mel a month ago. Three games into his tenure and performances haven’t improved much, but West Brom have managed to pick up 2 credible draws to Everton and Liverpool.
In a game that will highly contested in midfield as both teams look to not give away points away to a relegation rival, the defensive players will see most of the ball and play a big part in the game.
Normally played in his natural position of right-back, Ward has been operating in midfield in recent weeks with performances that have been received praise from Tony Pulis.
The consistent and reliable performances throughout the season, even during the early periods when Palace lost 7 out of 8 matches, and Ward has made the most tackles in the Premier League (74). Ward’s strong physique has also seen him win 125 ground duels.
Yacob has often been applauded for his impressively consistent performances for West Brom and the price they managed to obtain him for.
Like Ward, Yacob has won the most tackles (74) and ground duels (119) for his team . The midfielder has also been West Brom’s best passer this season – a pass accuracy of 87% – showing he can offer services going forward as well.
Crystal Palace’s improved defensive performances – 8 clean sheets since the middle of Novmeber – is much welcome for everyone involved as Pulis’ side have a mere 15 goals this season.
The last meeting between the two in the FA Cup third round saw Palace run out 2-0 victors.
West Brom’s inability to hold on to a lead this season has seen them draw 11 games and win on 4 occasions have the highest amount of draws in the league this season (11)
Crystal Palace have no new injury concerns and could welcome Jerome Thomas back into the squad. It is too soon for Glenn Murray however who has been out with knee since the closing stages of last season.
James Morrison could return for West Brom after recovering from a shin injury, but Olsson, Anelka, and Sessegnon are all set to miss out.
In a game that will be scrappy and short on quality, a low scoring draw will be the most likely outcome.