When you think of the most important games of the season, matches between the elite 6 come to mind. The Manchester Derby, United Vs Liverpool, and this season the clash at the top between Chelsea and Tottenham.
But, given everything at stake, Crystal Palace Vs Hull City could eclipse them all.
Location : Selhurst Park
Referee : Martin Atkinson
Players To Watch
Crystal Palace’s record signing, and top goalscorer this season by some margin. If Palace are to score against Hull, it will likely come through this striker.
Whilst Benteke struggled at Man City last week, against a stalwart pairing of Kompany and Otamendi. He will hope to have more of an impact against Hull, especially given their poor defensive record away from home.
Ever since arriving from Sporting in January, Markovic has been one of the brightest sparks in an otherwise dull Hull team. With the player contributing to crucial wins against Watford and Middlesbrough.
The advanced midfielders presence was notable in last week’s loss to Sunderland, with the Hull side lacking any attacking threat once the Serbian was subbed off.
Palace’s injury crisis in defense continues, with Dann, Tomkins, and Sakho all likely to be sidelined once again.
With that in mind, it seems likely that Allardyce will pick Delaney to start in the heart of the defense this week, after choosing four fullbacks against Man City, a choice which didn’t end well…
Yohan Cabaye also remains a doubt in midfield, being replaced by James McArthur.
After a poor showing against Sunderland last week, Marco Silva may well revert back to his usual 4-2-3-1, after his foray into a 4-4-2 ended in defeat.
With that, it is possible that Evandro will return to the lineup, after being replaced by Abel Hernandez.
Just as the battle for the Premier League title draws to a close, the fight for survival, in the most illustrious league in the world is nearing its end.
Just one spot in the relegation zone remains, and it is down to Crystal Palace, Hull and Swansea to decide who occupies it. And by some twist of fate, the penultimate match of the season features two of these clubs. One with an appalling home record in the league, whilst the other has the worst away record, yet another thriller could be on the cards.
Last time these two teams met, back in December. We witnessed an attacking masterclass from both sides, but it was a shame that none of the defenders turned up that day.
Two key points of the match were Robert Snodgrass, winning and scoring a penalty (although later admitting that he dived). As well as Zaha’s excellent strike to give Palace a 2-1 lead, which they couldn’t hold on to for more than 5 minutes.
Make Or Break Time For Palace
Crystal Palace sit 4 points ahead of Hull and the relegation zone, meaning a single point here will keep them safe for another year. Whilst Sam Allardyce is a manager known for grinding out results, even he can’t be too confident this weekend, given that The Eagles have lost 11 times at home this season. That record, coupled with a plague of injuries to the defense, means this will very much be “squeaky bum time” for the Palace faithful.
Last week Palace put in one of their worst performances of the season against a ruthless Man City side, and everyone involved will be hoping to turn things around.
Hull's Last Chance
Hull City looked to be a team on the up once manager Marco Silva took over, and led The Tigers to an unbeaten home record, for a while. Last week however proved treacherous for the northern team, as they were humiliated by already relegated Sunderland at home. Whilst at the same time, Swansea held on to beat Everton, allowing them to leapfrog Hull into safety. Now to survive, Hull have the formidable task of beating Crystal Palace, and (barring a freak change in goal difference), also beat Tottenham on the final day.
Neither of those tasks are impossible, however. After all, Crystal Palace lost at home to Burnley just the other week, at the time, Burnley held the title of having the worst away record. As for Tottenham, the team now have nothing to play for as the comfortably sit in 2nd place, 7 points away from Chelsea above and Liverpool below. A somewhat similar position to last season, after losing the title to Leicester, the team went to relegated Newcastle and were comprehensively battered 5-1.
So the hope is there for Hull City, and it is entirely up to Crystal Palace to stop them.
How The Table Could Pan Out
A simulation of the Premier League table, dependent on the result of this match.
Note that goal difference is not accurate, except in the case of a draw.
Remaining Games Of The Season In The Relegation Battle
Hull City (H)
Manchester United (A)
West Brom (H)
Crystal Palace (A)
Tottenham Hotspur (H)