Crystal Palace host fellow in-form side Wolves at Selhurst Park on Saturday, with both teams looking to climb further on the Premier League table.

Crystal Palace have looked settled under Patrick Vieira in recent weeks, and their convincing win over champions Manchester City at the Etihad is glowing proof of their progress. The London club aim to progress up the table further and make their position relevant in the top-six race.

Despite his team showing the resilience and character of a top-six club, there is still plenty of work pending for Vieira to do. The Eagles showed that against Manchester City as goals from Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher did the trick, while also being helped by the dismissal of Aymeric Laporte.

While their performances have been eye-catching, the results are yet to flow consistently. Crystal Palace only have two victories to show for their flair and resilience. However, they have lost only twice and managed six draws, more than any other team in the division.

Against Wolves, they have a tremendous challenge at hand, one that would give them some level of relevance, in the long run, this season. The fixture would be yet another test for Vieira and his players to show the Palace faithful they are more than just mere surprise packages against teams like Manchester City.

Meanwhile, Wolves are on a brilliant run of form, winning their last four games out of five and setting the standard of a new style under Bruno Lage. Many had written off the Black Country outfit and their manager after the difficult start to their campaign. Back then, Wolves were playing attractive football without getting results.

After three games into the season, they sat in the relegation zone. Their staggering revival and playing style have won some plaudits. With key players hitting form and adapting well to Lage’s fluid style of football, results have flown in, taking the Midlands side up to seventh on the table, a point below Arsenal.

Last time out, Wolves dispatched Everton in a tricky game. The first goal from Max Kilman and a strike from Raul Jimenez rendered Alex Iwobi’s second-half effort a mere consolation. Despite the narrow nature of the victory, Wolves proved they were the far better team in all positions in the game.

Both teams will be vying for three points, although more importantly, they seek relevance in their quest to finish in the top-six come the end of the season. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira will be wary of making changes despite some positive news on the injury front. It is not that there are many absentees in the squad. Still, key attacker Eberechi Eze recently returned to full training and got decent game-time with the Under-23 squad after making a speedy recovery from an Achilles tendon problem.

The Crystal Palace manager will be wary of drafting Eze straight into action against Wolves, as he would like to manage his fitness better this season. Eze could make the bench if deemed fit by Vieira or could be out of the matchday squad altogether. Nathan Ferguson is the other absentee who remains weeks away from a return to full training.

Vieira is unlikely to make unnecessary changes to his lineup, considering how well the same players played against Manchester City. After making a big impact as a substitute against Manchester City, Michael Olise might be pushing for a start and could replace Jordan Ayew, although Vieira will not make this change.

Furthermore, the Crystal Palace manager is likely to retain Wilfried Zaha to lead the line and field Odsonne Edouard on the left side of the attack. Conor Gallagher, who had an exceptional game against Manchester City, will keep his place in midfield, alongside Cheikhou Kouyate, despite the availability of Luka Milivojevic.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyate, McArthur; Ayew, Zaha, Edouard

Wolves

Despite a gruelling game last time out against Everton, Bruno Lage will be happy with no fresh concerns over the fitness of his players. Pedro Neto, Yerson Mosquera and Jonny are still on the sidelines and unavailable for the Crystal Palace clash.

Adama Traore, who was bafflingly left as an unused substitute against Everton, might not come in just yet. The Spanish international will yet again find himself on the bench. Willy Boly also made the previous matchday squad, although Lage will be wary of starting him just yet and might place him on the bench.

Meanwhile, Marcal remains a doubt to play yet, although Rayan Ait-Nouri, who assisted Max Kilman’s strike, could keep his place in the side. As for the defensive setup, it should feature Kilman, Conor Coady, Romain Saiss and Ait-Nouri.

Overall, Lage is expected to name a similar side that beat Everton, with Raul Jiminez leading the line with Hwang Hee-chan and Francisco  Trincao on either side of the Mexican. In the middle of the park, Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho will be the key players for Wolves.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Jose Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Ait-Nouri; Trincao, Jiminez, Hee-Chan, Edouard

Key Stats

  • Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches, though four of those games were drawn.
  • Only Liverpool and Chelsea have lost lesser games this season than Crystal Palace.
  • Wolves have won four of their last five Premier League matches while being unbeaten in those fixtures.
  • Crystal Palace have drawn their last three Premier League home matches.
  • Crystal Palace have managed just two goals in the first half in this season’s Premier League, both scored by Wilfried Zaha.

Player to Watch

Wilfried Zaha

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Against Manchester City, Zaha started as a central striker, and apart from marshalling the attack well, he was a real leader on the pitch. While he had a goal and an assist to show for his efforts, Zaha was also heavily involved in getting Laporte’s sent off, which turned the tie in Crystal Palace’s favour.

Zaha needs to show a similar character against Wolves, who will be expected to sit tight at the back. Patrick Vieira’s side will need the experience and expertise of the Ivory Coast international to unlock this Wolves side and provide the impetus by leading the line well from the front.

Prediction

Crystal Palace 2-1 Wolves

That prediction above could go wrong when the final whistle blows on Saturday. However, based on form, Crystal Palace look strong. Patrick Vieira’s side have shown the character to play like a top-six side but have not got victories to show for their cause. In recent games, their rise has been evident, and surely the wins are to follow.

As for Wolves, they might be stopped in their tracks after performing admirably in recent games. Bruno Lage’s men surely have the mettle to close out a team like Palace, but Wilfried Zaha & co. might prove too strong for the Midlands club. We are expecting Palace to record a narrow victory over their opponents at Selhurst Park.

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