Published author, Palace fan and all-round lovely bloke Richard Foster will be providing HLTCO with match previews throughout the 2015/16 campaign, bringing a degree of thoughtful perspective to the madness of the Premier League from week to week.
So we have the middle portion of our three Ws this Saturday, following Watford last week and West Ham in two weeks time it is the turn of West Brom to provide the filling.
This means the return of the baseball-capped Pulis who is well known at Selhurst for both his seemingly miraculous rescue act two seasons ago and his abrupt departure from the club on the eve of the previous season. As ever, there will be contradictory feelings towards the Welshman and his charges; my view is that we should move on, it’s in the past and it is far more important to focus on getting the points than scoring points against our former manager.
West Brom will undoubtedly be at their curmudgeonly best/ worst in the light of throwing away a two goal lead against Everton in their last match on Monday – the first time a Pulis team in the Premier League has lost a game after holding a two goal advantage. You can bet your bottom dollar that Pulis will be doubly determined to right those wrongs and for him there is no better place to do that than at Selhurst Park. West Brom have already won at Stoke this season so Pulis will be keen to make it a double over his former clubs.
It would not take a tactical genius to work out what the Baggies’ game plan will be, the old CND ploy – it will be built around Containment ‘N Defence. It will be beholden on us to break down the solid banks of four that will be assembled in front of Myhill. So whether it is down the flanks or with some incisive passing through the middle, the onus will be on Palace to unlock the gate and avoid getting sucked into the trap of pushing too many forward only to get caught on the break.
Pace and power in the shape of Bolasie, Sako and Zaha will be what is required with hopefully some lethal finishing from Gayle, providing he retains his place after his fitful performance against Watford. This may be the perfect opportunity for Cabaye to show his class and provide the rapier thrust that will pierce Pulis’ defence. It will probably not be particularly pretty but let’s hope it is effective.
Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian and Sabotage Times. He also writes for a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines.
His latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Play-Offs is out now and available via www.ockleybooks.co.uk.
Talking Balls, his sports quotes book, was launched earlier this month.
Follow him on twitter @rcfoster