Crystal Palace host Swansea this Sunday in the fifth game week of the Premier League. Each side has recorded only one victory in their opening four games, and both experienced this win in the fixture game of their seasons.
However, whilst Swansea pushed on to pick up a credible point against an in-form Liverpool, Crystal palace dropped all three points away at Old Trafford. Of course it would have been hard for Palace to maintain a winning momentum with Manchester United away on the calendar, but they will now be looking to pick up where they left off from their home win against Sunderland.
As Premier League new boys it will be games like these – home matches against sides not vying for Champions League positions – that Palace will have to pick up points in if they are to survive. Stoke away, as well as fixtures against United and Spurs represented a tough start to the season, but they showed against Sunderland that they are capable of picking up points in the games in which they should be aiming to do so.
Swansea have had a tough start to the season as well, facing Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool in three of their first four games. They put up a good fight against United however and were unlucky to lose by a 4-1 margin, and they only fell to Tottenham by virtue of a penalty.
The Swans have since earned something to show for the quality that they have in their side with victory over West Brom and a point against Liverpool. Indeed this is a team that won the League Cup and finished as high in the table as they could have hoped for. Over the summer they managed to hang onto their key players and add a couple more to the roster, and so it will surely only be a matter of time until they start picking up the wins consistently.
Both CrystalPalace and Swansea have recorded only 1 victory this season, and both of these have come against the only teams yet to win in the Premier League: Sunderland and West Brom.
CrystalPalace have created more counter-attacking goal opportunities – 4 – than any other team in the Premier League so far this season.
Swansea did not win a penalty throughout the 2012/13 season and are yet to win one coming into this match either. That said there have been a total of 22 penalties in CrystalPalace’s last 41 games in the Premier League.
We can expect Swansea to control possession throughout this game, and as such for most of the football to be played in Palace’s half with a lot of pressure on the defence. This could, though, play into the hands of Palace because they are statistically one of the most successful counter attacking teams at the moment. If they can draw Swansea into their half and soak up the pressure then it will open up chances for them to attack Swansea on the counter. I see Damien Delaney as being key to this. So far the Irishman is leading the rest of his team in clearances in defensive areas. He has so far made a total of 41 clearances, 20 with his head, which is 9 more than the next best in the team Daniel Gabbidon. On top of that he has a 73% tackle success and an aerial duel success of 82%. If CrystalPalace are to survive Swansea’s possession pressure then this man will be pivotal to their success.
He was Swansea’s player of the year in 2013, and although he hasn’t scored as many as he had by this point last year, he has still arguably been Swansea’s best player. Michu has only scored once in four outings this season (which technically makes him Swansea’s joint top goal scorer), but has been unlucky not to score and create more. He has had a total of 11 shots so far, rivalled only by Bony on 9, and has hit 5 of those on target. What is perhaps more interesting about his performances so far is that he seems to have added a new creative dimension to his game. Over the whole of 2012/13 he provided only two assists, yet this season he is Swansea’s top chance creator with 11, 10 of which came from open play. He has one assist to show for this, and nobody else in the team is really close to him in number of chances created. He may not have exploded to live as he did last year, but I expect him to do so starting from Sunday.
Sadly for CrystalPalace, they have the most injuries in the Premier League. Ward should return for Palace towards the end of September, as should Bolasie. Thomas and Parr could feature, but they are both looking to be 50-50. Beyond that, all of Williams, Hunt, McCarthy, Price and Murray are injured with unknown return dates.
Ashley Williams could be involved in the game depending on his recovery time, while Hernadez will be certain to miss out. Jose Canas and Neil Taylor will be out for a longer amount of time.
As I have said, Swansea will be vulnerable to the counter, that is if Crystal Palace play their cards right. Despite that though, I predict a win for Swansea who will put a tough run of games behind them and begin to move up the table with some potentially stylish wins. Moreover I can’t really see Crystal Palace scoring against Chico Flores and Ashley Williams (should he start).
Swansea to win: 2 – 0
Interesting facts from FourFourTwo’s StatsZone app.