Not many people would have predicted at the start of the season that this match in mid-October would feature two teams from the top six, but both Palace and West Ham have exceeded expectations.
With the Eagles soaring and the Hammers bubbling, this should be an entertaining clash featuring two sides stuffed with positive intent and some very exciting and dynamic players. Cue a goalless draw. Whatever happens neither team could possibly be as negative as West Brom were two weeks ago – the epitome of anti-football.
Of course, West Ham have long been considered (perhaps erroneously) as The Academy of English football where players are schooled in the ‘proper way’ and groomed to play attractive football. This perception did for Sam Allardyce who was never really accepted by the Upton Park faithful, as he has made perfectly clear recently in his vitriolic comments on his time at the club.
Style over substance is the mantra that the Irons seem to thrive on and Slaven Bilic has delivered, especially in their notable away victories against the triumvirate of Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City. Not a bad hat-trick of scalps.
So the Premier League’s most impressive away side takes on the Premier League’s second most impressive away side as Palace have notched up three wins on the road as well, most noticeably against the faltering Chelsea.
Both teams thrive on the counter-attack as they have players blessed with pace allied with some silky skills. It will be fascinating to watch exactly how this will be played out and the hope is it will be a game of cut and thrust. Alan Pardew pinpointed how well Payet has been playing and he will be someone who needs to be closely shackled.
The goal that Bolasie scored two weeks ago (his first at Selhurst for far too long) may well give Yannick the release he required after he clearly and understandably was recovering from the tragic death of his father. He may now be liberated and could well regain some of the sparkling form of last season.
Cabaye rightly received the majority of the plaudits for his masterful all-round performance against the Baggies, including his delicious cross to set up the first goal. As the player with the joint highest interceptions in the Premier League, the Frenchman has shown he is not a show pony, but an admirable and exceptionally gifted workhorse as well.
Whatever the outcome, the game should prove to be a lot more entertaining than the match which pits the former managers of both clubs on the same day at the Hawthorns. Anyone with any football sensibility would choose Pardew vs. Bilic to Pulis vs. Allardyce.
Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian and Sabotage Times. He also writes for a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines, including Five Year Plan.
His latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Play-Offs is out now and available via www.ockleybooks.co.uk.
Talking Balls, his sports quotes book, was launched earlier this month.
Follow him on twitter @rcfoster.