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    West Ham vs Crystal Palace

    Saturday's early kick-off sees a London derby as West Ham host Crystal Palace at the Boleyn Ground in an intriguing game on Sky Sports 1. The Hammers are starting to slip away from European contention after a string of draws in recent weeks but have only lost one game in the league in 2015. The visitors though have been rejuvenated under Alan Pardew and have started to pull away from the relegation zone.

    The outcome of this fixture has been difficult to call in recent seasons, with both sides securing three victories in the last seven games along with the solitary draw. In the corresponding fixture last season, Crystal Palace went home with all three points after a Mile Jedinak penalty, but West Ham were winners earlier in the season when they won 3-1 at Selhurst Park back at the start of the season.

    There isn't much to separate the sides in terms of form in the last six games either. Palace currently sit 8th in the form table with 10 points, compared to West Ham who are 13th with 7 points after a tough set of fixtures. In fact, the form table certainly does not tell the whole story for West Ham. This weekend they found themselves two goals up against Tottenham before conceding two late goals. A healthy 0-0 draw at Southampton followed a similar story after they played Manchester United where they once again let a lead slip in added time to draw the game. If the Hammers do find themselves narrowly ahead of their London rivals late in the game on Saturday, nerves may be present again, particularly after Palace's late onslaught against Arsenal this weekend. Alan Pardew 's side found themselves two goals down as the clock ticked over to 90 before Glenn Murray scored his first league goal of the year to pull one back. The comeback was whiskers away from being completed when Murray headed against the post just before the final whistle. That performance, along with Palace's recent good form, could worry Sam Allardyce's men. The away side have recently picked up crucial wins against Leicester, Burnley and Tottenham, two of which have been away from home.

    West Ham have spent most of the season without big money signing Andy Carroll due to injury, but Diafra Sakho has stepped into the mould with 9 goals from 17 appearances in the league, 5 of which have come from headers showing his proficiency in the air. He will be a key player at the weekend along with midfield powerhouse Cheikhou Kouyate who has made an impact offensively and defensively for the Hammers. Three goals along with 44 clearances in the league so far show his importance to the side, particularly when the going gets tough.

    Crystal Palace have a wealth of attacking talent at their disposal but Dwight Gayle has arguably had the greatest impact this season, particularly since Alan Pardew arrived. Gayle has scored 5 Premier League goals from just 17 shots and can also do a job out wide for the team. Another key player at the weekend could be Yannick Bolasie who changed the game when he came on as a substitute against Arsenal. Blessed with pace and confidence to take players on, the winger puts in almost five crosses per game leading to four assists in the league this season.

    Score prediction: West Ham United 1-1 Crystal Palace

    The sides are evenly matched on form and I can't see anything other than a draw for West Ham for the fourth game running. The hosts are five places above Palace in the league, but will be lacking confidence after the way they have dropped points recently, whereas Palace are always likely to score with their array of attacking talent.
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    Item Reviewed: West Ham vs Crystal Palace Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Arun Gray
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