Can West Ham continue their good start to the Premier League season when they host Crystal Palace at the London Stadium on Saturday (12:30pm ET)?
The Hammers are undefeated since their opening day thrashing at the hands of Manchester City and sit fifth in the table, with 12 points from three wins and three draws. After finishing 10th last season, they aim to compete for European qualification this time around.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side secured a 2-2 draw away at Bournemouth last weekend. Andriy Yarmolenko gave them an early lead, only for their hosts to quickly equalize and then go ahead just a minute into the second half. In an entertaining match between two of the league’s most open sides, Aaron Cresswell levelled things again a quarter-hour from time.
It was a performance that showed the good and bad of West Ham. They were right on the league average line in terms of goals last season, and they have again looked pretty good going forward during the new campaign to date. Summer signing Sebastian Haller is playing a double role of withdrawn link man and penalty area poacher, while Andriy Yarmolenko (three goals) and Felipe Anderson (three assists) are providing good output from wide areas.
The problems are at the other end. West Ham had worse than average defensive numbers last season. While they have conceded marginally fewer goals per match so far this season (far fewer if the City game is discounted), their underlying numbers have got even worse. They are giving up a relatively high volume of good quality chances, something that will need to be addressed if they are to avoid slipping down the table over the coming months.
Especially so as goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, one of the best-performing shot stoppers in the Premier League last season, looks set to be out of action for a couple of months after being forced off the field with a thigh injury during the draw with Bournemouth.
The good news ahead of Saturday’s match is that they have performed well in each of the last two home matches, achieving 2-0 wins against both Norwich and Manchester United. West Ham also recorded a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace in last season’s equivalent fixture.
Palace do, though, have reasons to believe they could come away with all three points this weekend. They, too, have made a good start to the season, with 11 points from three wins, two draws and two defeats, and have achieved it with underlying numbers that look much more solid than those of their hosts.
Roy Hodgson’s side actually looked pretty structurally sound throughout last season, but won just two of their first 13 matches of the campaign and still found themselves just three points clear of the bottom three as late as mid-January. Eight wins, three draws and four defeats thereafter saw them pull clear into an eventual 12th-place finish, just three points shy of West Ham in 10th.
Crystal Palace have carried on along a similar path so far this season despite what seems like a slightly worse squad. The Eagles actually made a profit over the summer, selling young right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United for nearly £50 million and then spending less than £7 million themselves. Michy Batshuayi, scorer of five goals in 11 appearances during his loan spell in the second half of last season, returned to parent club Chelsea.
The setup is typical Hodgson. Palace line up in a compact, deep-lying and relatively passive 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation, and then seek to create chances with quick forward transitions through the likes of Wilfried Zaha (for whom no one was willing to pay Palace’s asking price this summer), Andros Townsend and strikers Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew. It is an approach that might just bear fruit on Saturday.
Our Preview’s West Ham vs Crystal Palace Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
West Ham have been alright to date, especially at home, but Crystal Palace certainly have players capable of causing their leaky defence problems on the counter. Without Fabianski to bail them out (Roberto, who conceded four times away at Oxford in the Carabao Cup, will most likely replace him), West Ham might just find themselves on the end of a second home defeat of the nascent campaign. The betting value with the American offshore sports betting sites looks to be with the road team. This is the West Ham vs Crystal Palace betting prediction for this preview:
- Bet on Crystal Palace to win @ best odds of +285 (close to 3/1) with Bovada.