What a difference a change of manager makes, a statement that is valid for both West Ham and Crystal Palace this season. Since the appointment of the trusted hands of David Moyes and Roy Hodgson respectively the immediate threat of relegation has been approved.
Of course the job is nowhere near complete with still over a third of the season to go but the two London clubs can now start to look up the table then opposed to over their shoulders and they know that a win tonight would further solidify their hopes of beating the drop this season.
The Hammers come into this game lying 11th in the table and are also unbeaten in their last five league outing, they will however be licking their wounds after being on the wrong side of a cup upset last weekend. The East London outfit were the second team to be dumped out by League One Wigan.
That was a game that saw them finish proceedings with 10 men due to the sending off of Arthur Masuaku, the winger was sent off for spitting and he will now miss the next six Premier League matches. To be honest though he can have little complaint with the punishment that was handed out.
David Moyes was irate with Masuaku’s actions after the game and rightly so as his suspension now adds him to a long list of players that are ruled out, those being Andy Carroll, Miguel Lanzini and the in form Marko Arnautovic. To lose one of those would be bad enough. To lose all of them at this point of the season is nothing short of a crisis.
That means the attacking remit will be given to Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew. Neither forward has really lived up to the expectations that their price tag has given them and this will be the ideal opportunity to give manager Moyes something of a selection headache once all his injured starts are fit again.
Roy Hodgson also has something of a problem in attack, for him though it is not injuries but a lack of personnel at his disposal. This is because the former England boss is still on the hunt for one or even two forwards before the end of the month.
It is in this area of the pitch that Hodgson has identified as the one in which Palace need to reinforce in their bid to beat the drop. Palace currently find themselves 13th in the table and they go into this game arguably fresher than West Ham due to their weekend off.
This came about due to the fact that they were dumped out of the F.A. Cup in the 3rd Round by arch rivals Brighton. Whisper it quietly though but I don’t think Roy Hodgson will have been all that worried by that as his sole focus now is on Premier League survival.
Should Palace win this evening then they could well go above West Ham in the table, that would require a 2-0 win but even if they only manage to win by a solitary goal it would still give their survival hopes a massive boost especially after such a poor start to the campaign.
Their last league outing saw them saw them also travel across London and it would have been a relatively short trip to forget as they were soundly beaten by Arsenal at the Emirates. 4-1 was the final score but there would have been some concern that the game was over before half time.
Hodgson ever the optimist said that at least they stabled themselves after the break and also managed to earn a consolation, so at least it wasn’t a complete drubbing but at the same time they cannot afford another performance on the road like that.
To be honest though with the Hammers looking relatively toothless due to a spate of injuries they may well struggle to pick up all three points. That said I don’t think either manager will have too many complaints should the game end in a draw. Something which I think could happen tonight.