Crystal Palace make the long trip up to Middlesbrough for a League Cup tie on Wednesday night and whilst, on paper, it looks like a less than enticing prospect for the Eagles, Boro boss Tony Pulis has at least given us hope of advancing to the next round with his pre-match comments.
Our former gaffer is currently in the middle of a brutal promotion race at the top of the Championship, where just seven points separate the top 12 teams. Given his employers’ recent shaky form, they’ve now been replaced at the top by Sheffield United and could drop down as low as sixth if they fall to defeat against Stoke City this weekend. With that in mind, the baseball cap loving Welshman is keen to make changes against Palace and has been quick to warn supporters well in advance of the line-ups being announced.
Pulis has never been a fan of cup competitions and this season, he was unlikely to change the habits of a lifetime. Whilst there is a certain romance attached to a long cup run, he knows that promotion back to the top flight is his primary aim at The Riverside Stadium, with chairman Steve Gibson having made his objectives clear when handing him the job back in December of 2017.
You can be pretty sure of Roy Hodgson making a host of changes too, given our looming trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday but with Palace’s squad depth undeniably stronger than Boro’s as things stand, we can all be hopeful of a result similar to the one we picked up away at West Brom in the last round.
Having beaten both Swansea and the Baggies away from home to get to this stage, it would be nice to think we’ll be rewarded with a home tie next time out if we do manage to make it past Pulis’ men on Wednesday evening. Should we get beyond this stage, dreams of a Wembley appearance will start to look feasible, which is always a welcome distraction from the weekly grind of the Premier League.