Crystal Palace v Wolves, FA Cup 4th round replay, February 2, 2010
It’s been a tough week for Eagles supporters. After a season of financial headaches which has seen players go unpaid and transfer fees battled over off he field, last weekend they were smacked in the face with the all too predictable news that the south Londoners needed to be placed into administration, and with it Palace incurred a massive 10-point penalty in the league.
Palace fans’ torment hasn’t stopped there.
With the club scrapping around for cash, weeks of endless speculation linking the likes of Barcelona to prized-asset Victor Moses evaporated into thin air on Monday as news filtered through that Wigan had won the battle for the striker in a Â£3.25 million deal. Separate to the disappointment of the size of transfer fee itself it the feeling that yet another Palace youngster could join the ranks of promising-star-gone-bad alongside other names like John Bostock, Wayne Routledge and Ben Watson.
Yet, strewn of their star players and much needed cash, Palace showed the famous Neil Warnock spirit last Saturday as they beat the Posh 2-nil at Selhurst courtesy of a Neil Danns double. Palace in fact have been in good form of late, losing just once in their last seven matches, while they also lay claim to a fantastic statistic that they have not lost a game this season in which the Eagles have scored first. (Palace are 8/1 to win both halves.)
After conceding late on at Molineux in the 2-all draw at Wolves, Palace may have blown their best chance of getting to a much needed fifth-round tie with Aston Villa. The hosts will be looking to the bright midfield duo of Danns (4/1 to score) and top scorer Darren Ambrose (15/8 to score) to dictate the game from the middle of the park.
Further forward, Warnock will have to decide whether to play two striker or just one, with Alan Lee (15/8 to score) and Calvin Andrew (11/5 to score) both vying for spots in the attack. Danny Butterfield could also find himself playing in a far more advanced role than his usual defensive position after the right-back played alongside Lee in attack and put in a fine performance during Saturday’s win over Peterborough.
Neil Warnock will be forced into at least one change as left-back Lee Hills is cup-tied. Austrian international Johnny Ertl missed out at the weekend with a hamstring injury and will return to the back four if he is fit, otherwise veteran Matt Lawrence could step in. Elsewhere, full-back Nathaniel Clyne, another rising teenager at the club, will be looking to prove that his transfer deadline day decision to reject a move to Wolves was justified.
Wolves will hoping to avoid a Palace backlash on Tuesday night, and manager Mick McCarthy, despite having an eye on Sunday’s Premier League derby at Birmingham, is planning to field a stronger side than in his club’s previous two games in this season’s competition.
Belgium winger Geoffrey Mujangi Bia (4/1 to score) will get his debut in place of the injured Matt Jarvis, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is poised to be given an outing whiles forwards Chris Iwelumo, Sam Vokes and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (15/8 to score) also pushing for starting roles. Top goalscorer (with five goals) Kevin Doyle (13/8 to score) will have a late check on his fitness after taking a blow against Hull.
Wolves, although a Premier League, are hardly in sparkling form with one win, three defeats and three draws in their last seven matches, and a tough contest in in stall at Selhurst. It would be no surprise if a low scoring match (5/7 to be under 2.5 goals, 6/5 to be over) went into extra time, and penalties could also be needed to separate the sides.
101gg predicts Crystal Palace 1 – Wolves 1 (6/1) (Palace to win on penalties)
Full match odds here.