The FourFourTwo Preview: Crystal Palace vs Swansea
Just another game in a potentially long season for relegation favourites Palace – or the chance to prove otherwise.
Crystal Palace’s return to the Premier League has pretty much stuck to the script so far. Two defeats at teams they were expected to lose to (Tottenham and Manchester United), another in a gritty display (Stoke) and one home win against a fellow struggler.
- Valencia 0-3 Swansea (EL)
- Swansea 2-2 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 1-0 Man Utd (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-2 Notts County (LC)
- Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool (Prem)
CRYSTAL PALACE FORM
- Man Utd 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 3-1 Sunderland (Prem)
- Bristol City 2-1 Palace (LC)
- Stoke 2-1 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 0-1 Spurs (Prem)
It doesn’t look great on paper but, in truth, it’s pretty much par for the course where Ian Holloway is concerned. If his side can continue picking up points at Selhurst Park – in games like this, for example – they may find themselves on the right side of the Premier League’s proverbial dotted line come May.
There’s still a long way to go, though. Against United last weekend they were impressive for 45 minutes before Kagisho Dikgacoi’s suicidal red card teed up a 2-0 defeat.
This weekend they’ll be up against a Swansea side slightly weary but brimming with confidence after their thumping win in Valencia.
Michael Laudrup’s side have started slowly themselves but snatched a hard-earned point from Monday’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium. Jonjo Shelvey’s performance goes down in league folklore after he scored, gave away two goals and then grabbed an assist for Michu’s second-half equaliser.
The Swans’ seven goals conceded is second only to bottom-side Sunderland, though – and that’s an area they’ll be aiming to patch up in South London.
Dikgacoi serves his one-game suspension – fine, if Palace didn’t have another eight first-teamers with recent injuries.
Jerome Thomas (ankle), Yanick Bolasie (hamstring) and Jonathan Parr (ankle) are all expected to return after injuries, but Joel Ward (calf) Jonny Williams, Jack Hunt (both ankle), Paddy McCarthy (groin) and Glenn Murray (knee) will miss out.
For Swansea, Pablo Hernandez (hamstring) is a doubt after missing the trip to Valencia, while Jose Canas (ankle) and Neil Taylor (thigh) are also sidelined.
Player to watch: Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea)
All eyes will inevitably rest on the 21-year-old after his interesting night against former club Liverpool.
That’s probably because nobody knows what he’ll do next, but the fact remains that Shelvey is a talented youngster who's earned his stripes after a tough start to life in the Premier League with the Anfield side.
Despite his headline-making antics it was a testament to his character that he never shirked possession, and wasn’t afraid to have a go at goal (he registered four shots, second-most in the game).
Shelvey completed the second-highest number of passes overall and in the attacking third, grabbed a clever assist and recovered the ball eight times – also a joint-second high.
If he can forget Monday’s difficult bits and instead focus on the positives, there’s only one way his season is going – upwards.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swansea 3-0 Crystal Palace (Championship, Jan 11)
- Crystal Palace 0-3 Swansea (Championship, Oct 10)
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Swansea (Championship, Feb 10)
- Swansea 0-0 Crystal Palace (Championship, Dec 09)
- Swansea 1-3 Crystal Palace (Championship, Mar 09)
Unsurprisingly this is the first clash between Holloway and Laudrup.
Holloway is banned from the touchline for this one, though – he’ll serve the second of a two-match ban for his tedious blast at referee Mark Clattenburg after Palace’s opening-day defeat to Spurs.
Facts and figures
- Crystal Palace have failed to score in each of their last four league games against Swansea City, losing the last three in a row.
- Swansea have conceded a league-high four goals before half time this season (level with Aston Villa).
- Palace have fashioned more chances from counter attacks than any other side in the Premier League this season (4).
- The Eagles have only delivered four crosses successfully to team-mates this season; fewer than any other side.
- Swansea won only one of their six games against newly-promoted sides last season in the Premier League (D4 L1)
- There have been 22 penalties (14 won, eight conceded) in Crystal Palace’s last 41 games in the Premier League.
- Last season there were a total of 19 penalties in Palace’s 46 Championship games.
- Swansea did not win a penalty in 2012-13 and are yet to win one this season either.
- Jonjo Shelvey has made two errors leading to goal this season, more than any other player in the Premier League.
- Swansea’s average possession figure this season is only sixth best in the Premier League (55.8%).
The Swans will be bursting with confidence and ready to stick two fingers up to any suggestions of tiredness after their Europa League heroics - 0-2.