The Carabao Cup returns to our lives this evening with Crystal Palace making a journey west to take on Lee Johnson’s hot and cold Bristol City side. I dare say a fair few Eagles fans will be hoping for some light relief at Ashton Gate but Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas is expecting us to take a bit of a battering.
Having made it through the first two rounds after narrow home victories against Ipswich and Huddersfield, Roy Hodgson will be hopeful of securing safe passage into the next phase by empowering the members of his squad just below the first-team to go out and prove their worth.
With a crunch home clash against West Ham on the immediate horizon the likes of Zaha, Townsend, Cabaye and Sakho are likely to be rested, leaving the door open for Lee Chung-Yong, Bakary Sako, Jairo Riedewald and James Tomkins to force their way into contention for a starting spot against the Hammers.
Despite that dangling incentive being placed in front of the players, Charlie Nicholas seems alarmingly confident of the Championship outfit serving up yet more pain to Hodgson and his coaching staff, making a bold prediction over the score-line.
For me, a win tonight would be a nice morale booster ahead of what is an undeniably huge game at home to West Ham this weekend but I am in total agreement with Roy over the decision to rest the majority of our guaranteed Premier League starters. Whilst the upward momentum of a victory is always welcome, the risk posed by playing the likes of Zaha and Sakho is simply too great to take, particularly when there are genuine positional alternatives waiting patiently for an opportunity across the squad.
Ashton Gate has been known as something of a graveyard for Palace in recent years; let’s hope the lads who are selected tonight can put that hoodoo to rest in fine style, proving Charlie Nicholas wrong in the process.
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