In this week’s Premier League, Alan Pardew’s high flying Crystal Palace will host a worried West Bromwich Albion side looking to extend their stay in the top flight, at the ever bouncing Selhurst Park on Saturday. The Eagles have been soaring with confidence literally since February and have picked up five wins in their last six games including the victory against champions Manchester City at home, showing how far they have come this season with their new manager. When the 53-year-old joined the South London based club, they were sat stranded in 18th place on the table, but wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Burnley and Leicester City moved them out of the bottom three and set up a platform that has enabled them to perform consistently enough to get a grip on the season. At this rate, Alan Pardew should be looking to finish higher than Crystal Palace did last season and anything better than 11th would mean a club record, something the manager will be going after right from this weekend.
Tony Pulis will take his West Bromwich Albion outfit to familiar surroundings, albeit with a bit of pressure this time to get a result on the back of three successive defeats in the league after good early form. Despite holding a 2-1 lead against Leicester going into the final 10 minutes at The Hawthorns, West Brom slumped to a 3-2 loss to the Foxes to heighten their relegation worries, with only six games left in the campaign. Although West Brom are 7 points clear from the drop, the run-in to the season end is arguably the toughest among teams in the lower half of the table which involves facing four teams currently in the top five, requiring them to secure their Premier League status in the next two games in order to avoid a last minute scrap for survival.
Pardew will likely stick with the same team that beat Sunderland in convincing fashion last time out, although Pape Souare could miss out due to a thigh injury picked up at the Stadium of Light. Defender Martin Kelly replaced him in the first half and would be expected to start against the Baggies in his place at the back. James McArthur has been battling an illness, but should be fit to feature. Meanwhile, the game may come too soon for the return of Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell.
Possible Starting Lineup:
Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, Bolasie, McArthur, Jedinak, Zaha, Puncheon, Murray
West Brom will be without Youssouf Mulumbu as he will serve the final game of his three-match suspension, while Ben Foster is also out due to his torn Cruciate Ligament. Brown Ideye has been struggling with a knee injury and will face a fitness test before the clash at Selhurst Park.
Possible Starting Lineup:
Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Lescott, Brunt, Morrison, Gardner, Fletcher, Yacob, Berahino, Ideye
- The Eagles have won both of their previous Premier League games against WBA at Selhurst Park, scoring exactly three goals on both occasions.
- West Brom have won just one of their previous five Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace (L2 D2).
- Tony Pulis is looking to avoid losing four Premier League games in a row for the first time since he was Stoke manager (did so four times with the Potters).
- If Palace score four goals in this game they will have matched their total under Tony Pulis last season (26 goals in 26 games) in only 13 matches under Alan Pardew (22 so far).
Jason Puncheon – Crystal Palace
Puncheon has been one of the most important players at Crystal Palace under Alan Pardew as the midfielder has started to score and make crucial goals that have won a good number games for them overseeing their slow yet steady rise in the Premier League table. The midfielder has scored 4 goals this season in 31 appearances creating an astonishing 58 chances including 7 assists, it’s fair to say he’s had a productive season for Crystal Palace. Predominantly starting as a right sided midfielder, Puncheon’s pace and ability to run at defenders has enabled the manager to play him in a variety of areas on the right hand side of the field and it’s paid dividends. The 28-year old will play a key role in Palace’s chances to get all 3 points on Saturday with his speed and set piece threat as he’s done for the better part of the season under Alan Pardew.
Saido Berahino – West Bromwich Albion
The 21-year old has had a good season in terms of scoring goals as he hit double figures this campaign with 12 goals from 32 appearances (27 starts). But Berahino has been subdued of late as his last goal in the league came back in early March against Aston Villa and he needs to find his scoring boots soon to steer the West Bromwich to absolute safety before they face the big boys in the last five games in the league. The English youngster has managed to average a respectable passing accuracy for a striker at 84% and also the shot accuracy has been decent with 52% of his total shots have been on target but the conversion rate is a statistic he has to serious improve on, which will get him three to four more goals between now and the end of the season. Only 12 shots out of the 32 on target have found the net beating the keeper and if he can get more clinical in front of goal, West Brom will find what it takes to secure their position in the league in these next two games.
A Tony Pulis derby where Tony Pulis won’t get the maximum points from.
Crystal Palace 1-1 West Bromwich Albion