Sunday, March 26, 2023

Big Ben, Lord Payet And The Noble Midfielder: Key Battles When Crystal Palace Take On West Ham

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

In-form Crystal Palace will host Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United on Saturday at Selhurst Park. The Hammers will be desperate for a win in order to finally kick start their season which has been dismal so far. High were the hopes from West Ham United’s fans ahead of the season but it has turned out to be a big letdown.

With just four points from seven games, the Hammers are placed 18th right now. Things need to improve and that has to happen really soon or else Slaven Bilic’s position at the club will be in jeopardy.

Crystal Palace, on the other hand, are flying high this season sitting eighth in the table with 11 points from seven games. They are unbeaten in their last five Premier League encounters winning three and drawing two in the process.

Here are three key battles those could decide the game when Crystal Palace host West Ham.

Christian Benteke Vs Winston Reid

Defensively, West Ham have been horrendous this season. They have conceded as many as 15 goals in their last five Premier League games. West Ham must pick up their game in order to stop high-flying Crystal Palace who have a mixture of pace and power up front.

Christian Benteke has been brilliant for the Eagles of late since joining the South London club for a record fee this summer. The Belgian has found the back of the net thrice this season from five Premier League games for the Eagles and Winston Reid will have a tough job on his hands to stop the Belgian superstar.

Reid has been individually quite disappointing this season just like the whole of the West Ham defence and must step up his game in order to deal with the threat posed by Benteke.

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring a goal early in the first half during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough FC and Crystal Palace FC at Riverside Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images) *** Local Caption **** Christian Benteke

Mark Noble Vs James McArthur

James McArthur deserves plaudits for his displays of late for Crystal Palace at the base of midfield. The Scotsman has not only provided a solid screen for the back four but also had his impact in front of goal.

Two goals and two assists from six games are highly impressive for a defensive midfielder. West Ham skipper Mark Noble has failed to inspire his side when his team needed him the most. The Englishman will be looking to make a big impact on the pitch with his passing but will have to face a strong contest when he takes on McArthur.

Dimitri Payet Vs Joel Ward

Despite West Ham struggling badly for form, their best player Dimitri Payet has delivered whenever he has been on the pitch. The French international already has two goals and four assists to his name this season from six games and scored a worldie against Boro prior to the international break.

West Ham fans will look forward to their most reliable player to deliver once again but he will face a tricky battle against Joel Ward who is easily one of the most underrated right-backs in the Premier League.

Ward loves to burst forward and has a great eye for passes but he has to ensure that he does not render the rest of the backline defensively vulnerable by allowing Payet too much space.

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