Three defeats on the bounce, ensconced in the bottom three – it’s not good is it? The Reds will be eager to turn the tables on the arch-rivals of our last opponents as we welcome Crystal Palace to the City Ground. Palace of course are on a high having reached the semi-finals of the Carling Cup recently, although did blot their copybook by failing to beat Derby in their last league outing, indeed, their league form isn’t exactly great. It just looks good compared to ours!
As for us – we did really well at Brighton but failed to convert our chances, and failed to keep our concentration levels up. The points column doesn’t lie, and ultimately if good play and performance isn’t capped off with a finish then it’s pretty pointless. Despite that, the gaffer and players will hopefully take heart and come into this game with confidence to take the game to the Eagles.
Whilst it must be tempting to stick with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 type arrangement deployed at Brighton, Cotterill does have the likes of Andy Reid returning from suspension and the continuing recovery curve of Dexter Blackstock, who came through 76 minutes of reserve team action unscathed. Depending on the fullness of your glass you could see an unchanged line-up as an attacking formation, or you could see Tudgay ploughing a lone furrow upfront. Certainly the addition of Anderson and McCleary gave us a more direct feel.
Palace have a few issues on the injury front – Williams, Marrow and Hils are on their long-term sick list, whilst Sean Scannell was injured during Palace’s tremendous quarter-final victory over Manchester United. It’s likely he’ll be fit to face us though, whilst former Rams defender Dean Moxey is likely to be out with a knee problem, which is a pity as he’s been red carded in his last two appearances against the Reds in both a Palace and a Derby shirt!
Dougie Freedman – the boss for the away side – is of course a former Red, albeit for a relatively short and not-exactly-blistering spell. This, his first full season, started at a fantastic pace but seems to have stuttered in the league – of course with the not inconsiderable punctuation of an excellent run in the Carling Cup. Having put aside the distraction of the cup for a little while, they’ll be keen to arrest their decline in league form.
It’s going to prove tricky – but frankly, if we don’t start picking up some points soon then it’s going to start looking rather dicey for us. A positive and spirited performance would be a helpful catalyst to get the crowd behind the team – not always a given at the City Ground these days. We could really use three points, and rather worryingly, I’m not sure whether a dogged Palace side will make it very easy for us to get.
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