The big question is which Palace side are going to turn up for the game against Liverpool?
The most recent matches against West Brom & Sunderland, have followed a familiar pattern whereby a poor first half is then followed by a vast improvement in the second. It would be nice for once to see the team start strongly and build rather than have to repair the damage of a poor beginning and with Klopp’s team brimming with confidence after thrashing Man City in the week, there is no room for a tentative opening to the game.
Liverpool are one of those teams that can be devastating if allowed to grab the momentum, so the initiative must be grasped and hopefully the poor Selhurst form of late can be banished in a positive, upbeat performance.
As ever, much relies on our wingers, the return of Bolasie has provided a real lift to the shape and spirit of the team and should relieve some of the burden on Wilf’s shoulders. Connor Wickham has suddenly found his shooting boots, with four in two matches, it is imperative that he starts, as his confidence must be high. A rumoured injury muddies the picture.
There is also a doubt over Hennessey and as speculation has been rife amongst Palace fans about whether he is the No.1 keeper in the club then this may be the opportunity for Pardew to make a statement. So it will be interesting to see who he chooses to replace Hennessey – club legend Julian Speroni or the forgotten man Alex McCarthy?
It will be a severe test of either’s match sharpness having not played for so long and the back four will need to steel themselves and regain their form of the earlier part of the season.
This is an important match as it may well set the tone for the run-in and after our disastrous league form over the previous 11 matches. Anything less than a point would leave us still casting anxious glances over our shoulder at the relegation pack below us, a point would be reassuring and another one towards safety, whilst three points would invigorate the whole club and really give some breathing space, and even the chance to enjoy the upcoming quarter-final at Reading.
Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian – http://bit.ly/1QCOH9x
He also writes for a variety of Palace blogs and and hosts The Palace Podcast.
The revised paperback edition of his latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Football League Play-Offs – is out now and available through usual bookshops, online – http://amzn.to/1RDJdy5.
Talking Balls! His sports quotes book, was published in September 2015 – http://amzn.to/1RjV7Lw
Follow him on twitter @rcfoster