Crystal Palace take on Wolves at Selhurst Park in what should be a very close, competitive game. The hosts have yet to win on their own ground and they haven’t even scored a goal. However, they’ve been a tough game for anyone at home since Roy Hodgson took over, with the former England manager ensuring his side are well organised and tough to beat, whilst they have Wilfried Zaha to produce moments of magic in the final third.
Yet, they won’t find it easy against a Wolves side that have adapted to life in the Premier League with ease. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have been one of the early season surprise packages, with draws against the two Manchester clubs proving that they can compete with most in this league. They head down south boasting a five-game unbeaten run and have actually lost just once in the league, although it was away from home.
Crystal Palace vs Wolves Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-0 Wolves
Wolves have deservedly picked up plenty of plaudits for the way they’ve played but Selhurst Park might not be the ideal venue for Santo’s men. Hodgson is superb at setting up his side to defend and they should be able to deal with Wanderers’ style and at home they will have the fans on their side. Although, whilst we think Palace will edge this, probably through the quality of Zaha, it should be an extremely tight game and in terms of play there won’t be much between the sides.
Our recommended tip: Under 2.5 goals
Games involving these two sides have been two of the lowest scoring in the league. In terms of Palace, that’s probably because they rely too much in Zaha. He is their chief attacking threat and whilst an excellent player, if he’s not on form then they can look toothless. For the visitors, their lack of goals doesn’t tell the whole story. Wolves have been great to watch this season and are particularly dangerous on the counter-attack. However, they’ve been very wasteful in front of goal and that needs to change over the season. Therefore, we expect a low-scoring game between the sides that could be decided by one strike.
This will be the 64th meeting between the sides and it’s Wolves who have had the better of it over the years, winning 25 games compared to the Eagles’ 20. However, Palace have won three in a row against Wolves, although they were cup games and lower league encounters as this will be the first Premier League meeting between the sides.
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Players to watch: Wilfried Zaha & Matt Doherty
There’s no doubt that Zaha is the main man at Palace and they really are fortunate to have a player of his ability in the side as he is capable of playing at most clubs in the league. He gives the Palace attack a different dimension with his pace, power and skill. You only have to see their record without Zaha to see how vital he is to the team and Wolves will be aware of this but it’s easier said than done when it comes to stopping him.
The man who is likely to be tasked with marking Zaha is Matt Doherty. The Irish wing-back has been sensational in recent weeks but that has mainly been for his work going forward, where he makes intelligent runs and is weighing in with assists. His battle with Zaha could be crucial in defining the outcome of the game. Can he push the Ivory Coast international back? Will Zaha’s presence limit Doherty going forward? It will be intriguing to watch.