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The Cherries look to get back to winning ways after only picking up two points out of a possible nine in January 2017. Points-shy Palace visit Dean Court looking to get any type of result. Sam from Palace fan site The Eagles Beak says they need at least a draw if they are going to stay up.
Q. Back at the end of September Palace had reached the heady heights of seventh in the Premier League. Where did it go wrong?
We had a good run of five unbeaten games which was sparked by the late comeback against yourselves at Selhurst. After that, we won four successive games and looked promising; Christian Benteke was scoring goals, our other new signings looked great and we seemed to have turned a corner from the previous season’s woes. However, everything went downhill from there on. Our only Premier League standard left-back, Pape Souare, was involved in a terrible car accident, leaving him sidelined indefinitely. First teamers Steve Mandanda, Scott Dann, James Tomkins and Loic Remy have also joined Souare on the treatment table for long periods this season. Injuries, loss of form from too many key players and poor tactics have collectively seen us tumble.
Q. Palace haven’t won since Sam Allardyce took over. What are your thoughts on his appointment and how do Palace fans rate him?
First and foremost, Alan Pardew had to go. He was given far too much time than what he deserved after a terrible 2016. The appointment of Allardyce has been divisive and it hasn’t helped that Palace have been poor in his first month in charge. A good performance against Everton last weekend, despite a loss in controversial circumstances, gives the fans hope that the former England manager can turn things around.
Q. How do you think Palace should line-up to get a result against AFC Bournemouth?
We reverted to a 3-5-2 formation for the first time against Everton and it worked well. To continue to play this way, we will require potential new signing Patrick van Aanholt being ready to play straight away as Jeffrey Schlupp suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday. If the Dutchman isn’t fit, we will have to go back to a 4-2-3-1 formation which hasn’t worked so far under Allardyce and could play into the Cherries’ hands.
Q. Who do you think will be the key men for Palace on matchday?
Christian Benteke is the obvious choice but Wilfried Zaha has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations and has been our best player this season. His trickery and unpredictability can cause problems for even the best defenders in the top-flight. On the other hand, the club’s points tally would still be in single figures without the goals of Benteke. The Belgian has still, quite amazingly, split opinion among Palace fans this season following his £30 million move from Liverpool.
Q. Which AFC Bournemouth players do you think Sam Allardyce will be targeting in his gameplan?
Ryan Fraser has been in fantastic form recently and he can cause trouble to either of our full-backs. On the other wing, Junior Stanislas has had a very good season while Callum Wilson’s threat is renowned. I was also very disappointed when Palace failed to secure the signing of Jack Wilshere in the summer and was quite envious, as well as bitter, when he ended up joining yourselves. If we can frustrate those four, we will have a good chance of getting a positive result.
Q. We are just over halfway through the season. As an outsider how would you assess AFC Bournemouth’s season so far?
It was always going to be difficult to match last season’s success but you have fared quite well. Some great results – most notably Liverpool and the thrashing of Hull City – have also coincided with a few disappointing defeats, also including against Hull. I really like Eddie Howe and him staying for the foreseeable future could define your Premier League status for the next few years at least.
Q. Palace haven’t beaten AFC Bournemouth since 1988 and never in the Premier League. How do you see the game ending this time out?
We play yourselves and Sunderland in the space of five days and, realistically, at least four points are required if we are to stay up. I’d happily take a draw at Bournemouth if it meant we beat Sunderland on Saturday. I’m predicting a cagey 1-1 draw.
A BIG THANKS TO THE EAGLES BEAK – FOLLOW ON TWITTER