Football – England – Championship
Saturday 8th December 2012 – Kickoff: 1500hrs
Second placed Crystal Palace take on mid-table Blackpool at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon in what should be an interesting encounter, not least because of Palace manager Ian Holloway’s recent appointment and his first fixture against his former club.
Crystal Palace have lost just once in their last seventeen Championship matches following a disastrous start to the season with three straight defeats, and at home they’ve lost just once which was a 2-3 defeat against rival London club Watford back in August. Since then, Crystal Palace have made Selhurst Park a fortress and they’ve recorded wins over Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff City, Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, Ipswich Town, Derby County and Brighton; the last four wins have all been to nil as well which will please Ian Holloway and prove they are not just an attack-minded team.
Crystal Palace’s home record then stands at an impressive 7-2-1 27/12 and I guess it comes as no surprise to know that they are the league’s highest goalscorers at home under the Holloway influence. Forward Glenn Murray (17 goals, 1 assist) has been prolific so far this season and he bagged a brace against Brighton last weekend in their 3-0 win. Other players to watch out for are Zaha and Dikgacoi (4 goals apiece) while Zaha has also chipped in with 3 assists and Owen Garvan (3 goals, 4 assists) has also provided opportunities for the forwards.
Mid-table Blackpool are also unbeaten in their last six matches but this includes four draws and when you first glance at their away form it doesn’t appear to be too bad with two wins and a draw in their last three on their travels. But put these results into perspective; wins at Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough United (second from bottom and bottom respectively) along with a point at third from bottom Bristol City and whilst these are still good results, today’s match will be much harder for them.
Blackpool’s away record stands at 4-2-4 14/14 and their highest scorer is Tom Ince (13 goals, 8 assists) but I wonder for how much longer the Seasiders can keep hold of him as a bid is likely to be made in the January transfer window. Nouha Dicko (4 goals) is also a threat but without Gary Taylor-Fletcher in the side, they appear to be a little lightweight in the attacking areas.
Palace have been very strong at home and I see no reason why they would drop the points against an inconsistent Blackpool side, plus Holloway will be desperate to grab all the points off his former club; I expect goals in this one perhaps 2-1 or 3-2 to Crystal Palace here but I recommend the handicap.
Pick: Crystal Palace AH-0.25 @ 1.83 Pinnacle