Tactically speaking

Take an in-depth look at how Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace could pan out
West Ham United contest the second of four consecutive Barclays Premier League London derbies when Crystal Palace visit on Saturday.

The lunchtime kick-off will be an intriguing battle between Sam Allardyce's UEFA Europa League hopefuls and Alan Pardew's improving Eagles.

We have teamed up with football statistics website WhoScored.com to preview the game in detail.

West Ham United

West Ham United have paired up with football stats website WhoScored.com to preview the upcoming Barclays Premier League meeting with Crystal Palace.
The Hammers have lost only one of their last eleven league games at home and will be confident of maintaining their impressive home form when Palace make the short trip across the capital on Saturday. The Eagles may be on a four-match unbeaten run away from home, but they are expected to face a stern examination in east London in the weekend’s early kick-off.
Palace have scored just four goals in their last six league matches away from home, three of which were netted in the win at Burnley, so a clean sheet for the hosts is a possibility.
One player who could play a key role in the London derby is defender Winston Reid. The 26-year-old has started 22 of 26 league games this term and he is expected to line up at the heart of the backline on Saturday.
No West Ham player has received more WhoScored.com Man of the Match awards in the Premier League this season than Reid (2), both of which have been won at the Boleyn Ground. Only Chelsea (five), Southampton and Manchester United (both ten) have conceded fewer league goals at home than West Ham (eleven) this campaign. If Reid performs to his full potential against Palace, it’s unlikely the Hammers’ goals against column at home will rise this weekend.
A statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘concentration’ suggests he has the ability to maintain his focus over the 90 minutes, which will hinder Palace’s attack. ‘Attacking set pieces’, ‘creating scoring chances’ and ‘creating long shot opportunities’ are three of the strengths Palace boast, so Reid will need to be at his best to keep the Eagles grounded at the Boleyn Ground.
However, the West Ham centre-back has consistently excelled when called upon, making a team-high 41 interceptions, 22 blocked shots and 208 clearances, as well as 34 successful tackles out of 45 attempted.
Five of the six clean sheets West Ham have gained this season have come at home. Provided the strikers sport their scoring boots on Saturday, chances are high the Hammers will secure victory at the expense of the Eagles.
*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

Crystal Palace

An in-depth look at how Crystal Palace could approach today’s Barclays Premier League fixture

The Possible Lineup
Ward     Dann     Hangeland          Kelly
McArthur            Ledley
Puncheon           Jedinak                 Zaha
The Formation

Alan Pardew has favoured a 4-4-1-1 formation since his return to Selhurst Park, giving a previously porous Crystal Palace a new-found solidity.

The Eagles’ shape is based on a flat back four and two disciplined deep-lying midfielders, while the attacking potency is provided by two wingers and a deep-lying forward playing behind a mobile central striker.

Width is provided by the full-backs and two speedy and direct wide attacking midfield players, whether they be Jason Puncheon, Wilfried Zaha or Yannick Bolasie.

In attack, this formation may become a 4-2-3-1 as the two ‘inverted’ wingers like to cut inside onto their stronger foot.
The Playing Style

Just as West Ham United were under Pardew, his Palace are an all-action side who base their game on power, pace and playing them game their own way.

Defensively, Palace are a strong side, with four physically dominating figures at the back. The centre-backs are big, competitive players in Scott Dann and Brede Hangeland who will not be afraid to come for balls and attack them, particularly in the air.

In front of them, James McArthur and Joe Ledley are disciplined players, the majority of whose work is done protecting their back four and using the ball accurately and intelligently when in possession.

If Palace have any defensive weaknesses, Julian Speroni is not the biggest goalkeeper when it comes to commanding his area, while the Eagles’ large defenders are not as quick and mobile and can be turned if the ball and movement are right and timed well.

When Palace do not have the ball, their two wide midfielders drop in alongside McArthur and Ledley to form a flat midfield four.

Offensively, Palace are a typical Pardew team – strong, quick and direct in wide areas and a major threat from set pieces.

The way the former Hammers boss has his team set up means the two wide midfielders are playing ‘inverted’, with both Puncheon and Zaha able to cut inside onto their stronger foot and shoot or play through balls.

The Players

Pardew did a fair bit of January business, leaving Palace with a relatively large first-team squad.
In goal, Argentine veteran Speroni is preferred to Wales international Wayne Hennessey. The long-time Eagles stopper is not the biggest, but he is a good shot-stopper with strong hands.

In front of him, Dann and Hangeland provide a huge barrier between the opposition and the Palace goal. Both are strong and committed in the air and on the ground, but neither are the most mobile.

At full-back, Pardew has options. Joel Ward and Martin Kelly are both big for their positions and can be got in behind, while new boy Pape Souare is more mobile but is inexperienced in English football.

In defensive midfield, Ledley and McArthur are both hard-working midfielders who press tirelessly to close down the space in front of the back four. In possession, they will look to collect from the back four and get the ball wide to the likes of Zaha and Puncheon.

Further forward Zaha, Puncheon and Bolasie all possess explosive pace and a willingness to run at defenders on either side.

Former Hammer Marouane Chamakh is injured, so Mile Jedinak could fill the role behind the central striker.

Up front, Pardew has options, with the lively Dwight Gayle, taller Arsenal loanee Yaya Sanogo and ex-Newcastle man Shola Ameobi vying for the start.