The first of three big matches today, of which the first two are in the Premier League takes place at Selhurst Park this Lunchtime as Crystal Palace play host to Tottenham in what is set to be another exciting London derby with both sides needing a win for far differing reasons.
For Crystal Palace it is the fact they start this game in 17th place in the table, with only goal difference keeping them the right side of the relegation zone at present, if they were to lose 4-0 today then they would sink into the bottom three although that is something of an unexpected outcome it must be said.
But if we ignore the unwanted scoreline mentioned above it is fair to say that the pressure is once again back on the Eagles as they have slowly slipped back down the table during the last few weeks. That’s due to the fact that they have not won any of the last four Premier League matches, a run that has seen them pick up just two points from a possible 12.
This slump in form has not been helped by the fact that their injury list seems to be growing larger by the week especially as they are without their talismanic talents of of Wilfired Zaha, since his absence the South London outfit have looked bereft of ideas in the final third and have lacked the creative spark that the Ivorian can offer.
Last time out a patched up attack line traveled to Goodison Park to face Everton and came away empty handed as Sam Allardyce not only got one over his previous employers but also won the battle of the former England managers also.
Roy Hodgson will at least be given the good news today that Mamadou Sahko will be ready to return and offer something in defence to keep the likes of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen quiet as Mauricio Pochettino’s men look for an all important three points of their own.
They know that the race for the top four is going to take an important twist later this afternoon, with at least of Manchester United and Chelsea dropping points at Old Trafford. Even Spurs win today and Chelsea win away also, they will end the weekend in 5th.
But what they will know is that it would then be a bonifide race for second as just two points would separate them and Liverpool come the end of the afternoon, breaking into the top four my need to require a bit of patience but the wider landscape in front of them may mean that their patience is eventually rewarded more handsomely.
The message from Mauricio Pochettino will be to make sure that his players go on and do their bit and focus on the immediate job in hand, especially as of the 11 games left in the Premier League they are more then capable of going on a run that will fire them further up the table.
On paper there are nine of those 11 games that you would define as winnable but as we all know football is not won on paper is it, you only have to look at last Sunday when the club were held by League One Rochdale at Spotland in the 5th Round F.A. Cup tie
That now obviously requires a replay and because of the upcoming clash on Wednesday this game was pushed back a day, something that could work in their favour. With Spurs now playing before both Manchester United and Chelsea it gives them the ideal chance to heap some pressure on the likes of Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
Ultimately it will count for nothing if they don’t get the job done here, should they fail to take up another opportunity to get in the top four this season you would then have to wonder just how many chances they will be given.
These games are usually tight with a single goal usually proving to be difference, it is something that has been the case in four of the last six outings between the two and I have a feeling that is exactly what will happen this lunchtime, with the away side just edging proceedings.