Crystal Palace were unable to take advantage of Cardiff’s failure last week, managing only a draw away to Birmingham having had a 2-0 lead. It was their second consecutive 2-2 draw in the Championship and their third draw in four games. It has seen them slip off the top of the table but they are very much in the thick of it and could be back on top for Christmas depending on results this weekend. Ian Holloway will be aware that the festive period is a crucial part of the Championship season having won promotion with his previous club. With the current league leaders away from home on Boxing Day, it promises to be an eventful week ahead for the capital club and one which should go some way to shaping the second half of their season.
Huddersfield were previewed last weekend before their trip to Hull where they were undone 2-0. It was another match without a win – count is at six now – and they continue to fall further down the table after a very promising start. In truth, they were always second best against Steve Bruce’s side last Saturday and can have no complaints about the score. It’s not unusual for promoted teams to suffer a dip in form at this stage of the season as it’s normally the time where the momentum from the previous good season begins to wear off if results start to dip, and that’s been the case for Simon Grayson’s men. That momentum has been replaced by a lack of confidence and it was apparent in their performance last weekend. The players shouldn’t be too despondent however, as a couple of wins over the next ten days could catapult them half a dozen places up the division. They are 11 points clear of the relegation zone and Grayson will be hoping that gap remains entering the New Year.
I’ve made it clear within this column of my admiration for Wilfried Zaha and all connected with Palace will be looking through their fingers throughout January if the reported interest in the striker is followed up. He has the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents even further with Saturday’s match live on Sky and an encounter with the league leaders on the back of that. His partnership with Glenn Murray has been lethal thus far and it’s one which if kept together could propel them to promotion.
Having won as many games on the road as they have at home, the fact they’re playing away for the second successive week won’t hold too many fears for Huddersfield but it’s that aforementioned run without a win that will be playing on their minds. It is such a young side and with so many of their midfield being virtual ever presents, the tiredness does kick in and experience can normally have such a bearing on the outcome of a game as a result.
It’s the last Championship fixture before Christmas and is an intriguing one. Palace will be hoping to get back on winning form ahead of their tussle at Cardiff. Huddersfield will be desperate to earn their first win since the beginning of November. I’m an admirer of Crystal Palace this season and expect them to pick up three points tomorrow.
Crystal Palace 10/13 @ Pinnacle