Selhurst Park forms the backdrop for Sunday’s bottom-half Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The ‘bounce back’ effect produced by the returning Roy Hodgson has begun to vanish following an opening-day win at newly-promoted Sheffield United.
Palace lost their first home league game of the season to title-bidding Arsenal, but a narrow 1-0 scoreline was in line with the Eagles’ fighting spirit under the 76-year-old manager.
Hodgson’s mentality has reinforced the London outfit’s hopes of securing a first top-half finish since 2014/15, as most recently witnessed by a 1-1 draw at Brentford last weekend.
His side battled back from a 1-0 half-time deficit in a mini-capital derby to even out their Premier League record this season before coming from a 2-0 down to beat Plymouth Argyle in midweek League Cup action.
The veteran manager’s return to Selhurst Park in March inspired the Eagles to a respectable 11th-place finish last term, but they face an uphill task to better that placing, as per our Palace season preview.
A third bottom-half finish in four years could be in store for perennial underachievers Wolves, as anticipated in our 2023/24 season preview.
New manager Gary O’Neil opened his Molineux adventure with back-to-back losses to Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion after taking Julen Lopetegui’s place in the dugout late in August.
Sasa Kalajdzic’s 87th-minute winner offered last season’s Bournemouth saviour his first Premier League triumph in charge of Wolves this past weekend, toppling a downtrodden Everton side 1-0 at Goodison Park.
Wolves build on that success with a 5-0 League Cup rout of lower-league Blackpool on Tuesday, bolstering the visitors’ confidence ahead of this trip to the capital.
Hodgson is missing several influential first-team forwards at the start of the season, including new Galatasaray winger Wilfried Zaha and injured Michael Olise.
Their absences have caused attacking havoc at Selhurst Park, with Palace falling back to their old habits, including profligacy in front of goal, leading to a poor return of two goals from three league games.
Palace’s notoriously slow starts have seen them fail to score before half-time in all three Premier League outings this season.
That said, before suffering a 2-0 loss in their last top-flight meeting with Wolves in April, the Eagles had scored precisely twice in three consecutive league matches against them (W3).
Despite clocking a crucial win at Goodison last time out, another triumph outside Molineux looks like a tall order for a side without back-to-back Premier League victories on hostile turf since February 2022.
To better understand the size of the assignment awaiting O’Neil’s side, you’d need to consider Wolverhampton’s awful three-game losing league run at Selhurst Park, accompanied by two scoring blanks.
Playing on Sunday doesn’t bode well either, with the West Midlands outfit going winless in their last eight top-flight matches held on this day (D2, L6).
O’Neil’s personal record against Palace could fuel more scepticism in the visiting squad as he lost both Premier League games against them last season without scoring.
Olise’s absence is not the only injury setback in the Palace camp.
Summer signing Matheus Franca is still out with an unspecified injury, while Will Hughes looks to be on the verge of recovery.
Hwang Hee-chan is the only absentee in O’Neil’s squad, meaning Wolverhampton will again turn to Matheus Cunha to lead the line.
Crystal Palace potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Sam Johnstone; Joel Ward, Joachim Andersen, Marc Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell; Cheick Doucoure, Jefferson Lerma; Jordan Ayew, Eberechi Eze, Jeffrey Schlupp; Odsonne Edouard.
Wolverhampton Wanderers potential starting line-up:
(4-4-2): Jose Sa; Nelson Semedo, Max Kilman, Craig Dawson, Hugo Bueno; Pedro Neto, Joao Gomes, Mario Lemina, Rayan Ait-Nouri; Matheus Cunha, Fabio Silva.
We Say: Crystal Palace 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
None of the last seven Premier League games between Palace and Wolves have ended level, but some traditions are made to be broken.
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