Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
You could describe this contest between two sides having sub-par seasons as a relegation battle, but in truth, it’s probably a stretch. Palace, who sit five points above 18th-placed Cardiff, are likely already safe. The Terriers, meanwhile, are sixteen points from safety with seven games to play. They’ve picked up eleven points from their first 31 games, so you don’t need to be a Harvard mathematician to predict their fate. All they can do now is prepare for a season in the Championship – which, in fairness, they seem to be doing.
Currently in 14th spot, Palace could pick up a few places with a win here, which they should achieve so long as they don’t consider this game won before it starts. Huddersfield have been doomed for a while, but the way they approach each game – primed to fight for everything despite being outgunned – means a complacent opponent can face a nasty shock. Roy Hodgson is unlikely to let his players sleepwalk into this game.
Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Huddersfield
It feels mildly patronising to say that Huddersfield’s escape from relegation in 2018 was a stunning achievement. That doesn’t make it any less true, and although they have added to their squad, they still have by far the lowest wage bill in the Premier League; sometimes that shows on the pitch, and that’s why they won’t repeat last season’s heroics in 2019. More than anything, they lack a cutting edge in attack and, with Palace blessed with talented ball players further forward, we can only see the Terriers’ defensive endeavour carrying them so far. The hosts should scoop up all three points here; it’s not like they’re much use to Huddersfield.
Our recommended tip: Palace Clean Sheet
A look at the stats shows that Huddersfield’s defence isn’t all that bad; it’s much better than Fulham’s just above them, and better than Burnley’s too. It’s only a goal worse than Bournemouth’s, and the Cherries sit cosily in 12th place right now. The reason that the Kirklees Stadium will be hosting Championship football next season is the team’s attack. Eighteen goals in 31 games makes it really tough to do anything but finish last, and with MansionBet offering 5/7 on a home clean sheet, that seems like a solid bet to make.
Huddersfield will hope that they can repeat the outcome that emerged the last time these sides met on this pitch – on the opening day of the 2017/18 season, when they shocked everyone with a 3-0 win on their Premier League debut. Occasions like that have been few and far between since, and when they faced Palace earlier this season, the story was the same as it has been for much of the campaign. The Terriers scrapped, and made it difficult for the visiting Palace side, but a Wilfried Zaha goal after 38 minutes was enough to win the day for Hodgson’s side. Although the hosts had most of the possession their attack was, once again, blunt.
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Players to watch: Michy Batshuayi & Jonas Lossl
Just as Palace’s season was hitting the buffers due to a lack of goals, the loan signing of Batshuayi from Chelsea has reawakened their attack. The young Belgian international really deserves better than being shuttled around on short-term contracts – his half-season stint at Dortmund last season showed that when given a regular starting spot he can be prolific, and he’s the perfect player to finish off the chances created by Zaha and midfielders such as Max Meyer – chances which fellow Belgian Christian Benteke has a habit of missing.
Lossl has one of the more thankless tasks in the Premier League; between the sticks for a team that doesn’t do much attacking, he’s always going to have a busy day ahead of him, and that will be the case here too. Of course, his goal being perpetually under fire does mean that he gets plenty of practice, and with the limitations placed on him he’s not doing a bad job. An agile keeper with a couple of seasons in the top flight on his CV, he’s a player Huddersfield must keep if they are to get back to the Premier League.