Crystal Palace-West Brom Preview
Crystal Palace pay a visit to what may be an anxious fan base at The Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday hoping to translate their flawless FA Cup form into Premier League points.
The Eagles have recorded wins over Premier League opponents in each round of the cup, eliminating Southampton, Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur en route to the quarterfinals.
Palace's form in the knockout competition has coincided with a league slump in which they've gone winless in nine matches (0-3-6) since a 2-1 win at Stoke on Dec. 19. Having ended Spurs' eight-match unbeaten run on cup duty last weekend, Palace manager Alan Pardew hopes claiming such a coveted scalp can inspire the Eagles (9-5-12) to end their league drought.
"It was important and the timing of it was good because with the league form, we needed to sit ourselves down and go, 'It ain't been that bad. Let's kick on now with these final 12, 13 games that we've got left,'" Pardew told the official club website.
"The guys showed that we were resilient. We defended well, which you have to do at Spurs. We broke well and the second half, if I'm honest, I was surprised that we handled that so well. We really did well in the second half."
Reading will be Palace's opponents in the round of eight in the FA Cup after they overcame West Brom (8-8-10) in an ugly match for the Baggies both on and off the field.
Tony Pulis's side were routinely dispatched 3-1 and things got worse for West Brom when midfielder Chris Brunt was hit by a coin thrown by one of the club's traveling supporters post-match. The incident has been universally condemned across the footballing community and an arrest has been made, but the entire afternoon dissipated any goodwill surrounding West Brom following their 1-0 win at Everton in their last Premier League outing.
The unpalatable outburst was symptomatic of Baggies supporter's growing frustration with Pulis' efforts at the Hawthorns and what fans perceive as a lack of adventure about his side's approach.
West Brom currently occupy 14th, trailing Palace on goal differential while possessing 32 points.
"Let's get through the season, let's sit down in the summer and see where we go from there," Pulis told BBC radio WM when asked about his future in the Midlands. "The most important thing is to keep the club in the Premier League."
Pulis is hoping three points against the team he guided to safety in the 2013-14 season will begin to get the fans back on his side with a tricky March schedule featuring high-flyers Leicester City, Manchester United and a trip to Arsenal.
The Welshman will be without defender Jonny Evans, midfielder James Morrison (both hamstring) and forward Callum McManaman for Palace's visit.
The Eagles will be without attackers Jason Puncheon (hamstring) and Kwesi Appiah (knee), and midfielder James McArthur (ankle). Pape Souare is suspended after his red card against Watford.
Palace beat West Brom 2-0 at Selhurst Park in October as Yannick Bolasie scored in the 68th minute and Yohan Cabaye secured the points from the spot in the 89th. Palace's win in October gives them the edge in the Premier League head-to-head, winning three times to West Brom's two. The sides have drawn twice, with Palace edging the goals 12-9.
The Eagles have enjoyed their recent trips to The Hawthorns, taking points in five of their last six visits (2-3-1).