It’s not often the case this early in the season that pundits start to talk about ‘six point’ games, however this is exactly what it will feel like for both Roy Hodgson and Slaven Bilic come this Saturday.
Both Crystal Palace and West Ham have endured dismal starts to the competition with Palace in the slightly worse position at the bottom of the table, having to wait eight weeks to find the opponents net.
For West Ham things are not as bad but they’re not far off. With a couple of wins and draws in their first nine games they sit four places above Palace in 16th, though its fair to say both clubs were probably aiming for top half finishes this season; things have gone seriously wrong so far.
Despite West Ham’s dramatic win over Spurs in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup action, the spotlight still looms over Slaven Bilic. The West Ham owners have been quick to rally behind the Croatian manager, proclaiming their loyalty, though over the last few days the tone from West Ham’s top dogs has slightly changed. A report from The Independent has claimed the owners want results, and they want them now. A big loss to Palace this weekend will therefore surely leave Bilic clinging onto the London Stadium with his fingertips.
Palace will take some comfort in that they have already been through a managerial sacking this season with the removal of Frank De Boer, giving Palace the record for the quickest managerial sacking in the Premier League era.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson means the team must now take a deep breath and begin to rebuild, though Hodgson, now best know for his very disappointing England managerial career, is far from safe in his Selhurst seat.
The two London clubs have been battling it out ever since 1906 where both teams settled for a point in the Southern First Division. More recently, results have favoured the East end of London more than the South, leaving West Ham unbeaten in their last four meetings, winning three and drawing the other.
So perhaps West Ham could be the slight favourites going into this one – though speaking of a ‘favourite’ when both clubs league performances have been so weak so far seems a bit strange.
Notable injuries see West Ham without James Collins (ankle) and Diafra Sakho (back), whilst the influential Michail Antonio is a 50/50 due to a slight rib condition. Palace’s injury woes have eased up a bit over the last few weeks though their striker problem still lingers. Freddie Ladapo is the only fit out and out striker, a player with a mere sixteen minutes of Premier League football under his belt.
Match prediction: 2-2