Tactically speaking

West Ham United welcome Crystal Palace to the Boleyn Ground for the second of three London derbies to complete the Club's slate of 2013/14 Barclays Premier League home fixtures.

While the Hammers will look to bounce back from defeats at home by Liverpool and away at Arsenal, the Eagles have been in outstanding form in recent weeks, winning their last four league matches.

So, what sort of game will pan out between the teams managed by Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis?

West Ham United

Matt Jarvis

Crystal Palace are the visitors this weekend and ahead of the game, football statistics website WhoScored.com have previewed the fixture.

When the two sides met earlier in the season at Selhurst Park, Tony Pulis earned his first win as Palace manager thanks to Marouane Chamakh goal without reply. Palace go into game third in the Premier League form table, having taken 13 points from the last 18 available.

While the Hammers came away from the Emirates in midweek empty-handed, there were certainly plenty of positives to take what was a tight game against one of the Premier League's best sides, in which West Ham dominated for large periods.

When Matt Jarvis netted in the 40th minute, it had been coming, with Mo Diamé, Antonio Nocerino and Andy Carroll all spurning earlier chances.

Jarvis' strike represented only the third time the Gunners have conceded the first goal at home in the Premier League all season, and on each previous occasion too, they have come back into the game and avoided defeat, so it certainly was not a poor result for the visitors. Arguably the greatest disappointment was that the Hammers played so well for such an extended period in the first half but came away with a loss.

Back on home soil this weekend, Jarvis could be key against a Crystal Palace side resurgent under Pulis. The Eagles come into the game on the back of an impressive 3-2 win at Everton in midweek, but West Ham should still expect to have the upper hand.

The pacy winger will look to cause havoc in the opposition defence once again, taking on full-backs, able to go down the line or cut back onto his right foot, and deliver crosses into the box. He has developed a WhoScored.com strength of 'crossing' that is certainly of use when you have a striker as good as Carroll in the middle. As Jarvis proved at the Emirates too, he is also of use when in the box getting on the end of teammates' passes.

Palace's defence is much less sturdy in away games than it is at home, and Jarvis will be looking to extend his good recent run, having netted twice in his last three starts. He looks to be hitting form and the visitors this weekend could be next to suffer.

At the other end of the pitch, Palace are the second-lowest scoring side in away Premier League games this season, having netted just 12 times in 17 matches on the road all campaign. While only Chelsea (16) have kept more clean sheets than the Hammers (13), there is every chance that the Eagles will be firing blanks on Saturday.

*WhoScored.com is one of the fastest growing websites in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

Crystal Palace

Possible starting XI


Mariappa  Dann  Delaney  Ward

Puncheon  Ledley  Jedinak  Bolasie



Crystal Palace have got a huge squad - so big that former manager Ian Holloway was forced to leave three senior players out of his 25-man Premier League selection at the start of the season.

Holloway is now gone, while the three players - Florian Marange, Stephen Dobbie and Owen Garvan - have also left on loan, allowing new manager Tony Pulis to form a more streamlined squad forward in his own vision.

The result has been a far more resolute Crystal Palace who are hard to break down and difficult to beat.

While goals have hardly flowed at the other end of the pitch, Pulis's preferred 4-4-1-1 formation has yielded enough points to see the Eagles fly out of the relegation zone in recent months.

Tactically, unsurprisingly, Pulis's Palace are a physically strong side who like to harry the opposition, win the ball and get it forward quickly.

Possession, it appears, is not the priority. Palace are bottom of both the possession percentage (37.4 per cent) - and pass completion percentage (70.9 per cent) this Barclays Premier League season.

With so little of the ball to play with, it will again come as no surprise that Palace unleash only eleven shots per game - a figure higher than just one other team, Stoke City.

In 34 league matches, the Eagles have scored just 27 goals, making their position outside the relegation zone all the more impressive.

Defensively, however, nobody can question Palace's resilience and determination not to let their own goal be breached - they make more interceptions (18.6) and tackles (22.4) per game than any other team in the Barclays Premier League.

Any suggestion that this defensive approach means Pulis's side are dirty would be wide of the mark however - their average of 10.7 fouls committed per game ranks them 13th in the top flight in that regard.

Palace are a team, first and foremost, although like every side they rely on individual pieces of brilliance and ability at both ends of the pitch to help them to achieve positive results.

At the back, left-back Joel Ward has been immense, making 104 tackles, 80 interceptions and 140 clearances, but it is defensive midfi elder and captain Mile Jedinak who has been Palace's standout performer this season.

The tireless Australian has put in a monumental amount of work defensively, totalling 118 tackles, 129 intecerptions and 122 clearances, while he is also comfortably Palace's most prolific passer, making 1,471 at an average of 43.3 per game - more than 12 passes per match more than midfield partner Kagisho Dikcagoi, who ranks second with 31 per game.

At the attacking end of the pitch, it is the nomadic and mercurial Jason Puncheon who carries Palace's biggest threat. The marauding winger has produced a highlight reel of goals throughout his career and the current season has been no different.

No Palace player has unleashed more shots (70), scored more goals (seven) or made more key passes (47) than Puncheon, while he has also embarked on 52 dribbles - second only to Yannick Bolasie's 55.

Puncheon can play on either wing, but is most comfortable picking the ball up wide right and cutting inside on his lethal left foot.

While only Bolasie has managed more than one league assist this term, the arrival of Joe Ledley has added ability and guile to the midfield. The Wales international is a prolific tackler and interceptor of passes, while he also possesses the ability to get forward and either get shots away or tee-up his team-mates with his accurate distribution.

While individuals may make the difference for Palace, it is their all-round teamwork and defensive resilience which could prove vital to their success this afternoon.