Five Talking Points - Crystal Palace
The major topics for discussion ahead of Saturday's Premier League visit of the Eagles to London Stadium...
West Ham United will be without Dimitri Payet on Saturday after manager Slaven Bilic revealed that the midfielder has asked to leave the Club.
While it is hoped the Frenchman will change his mind and recommit his future to the Hammers, for the time being he will not be available for selection.
So, the question arises, who will be West Ham’s attacking catalyst against Crystal Palace?
The most likely candidate is Manuel Lanzini, the Argentinean No10 who has the ability to beat his man, create opportunities for others and score goals himself.
With three in three appearances in Claret and Blue against the Eagles, Lanzini has previous form against this opposition, and he will need to maintain it if West Ham are to score a morale-boosting victory.
Big Sam is back... again!
A little less than a year ago, Sam Allardyce made his first return to east London after recently being appointed manager of a struggling Premier League club.
On that occasion, in February 2016, Big Sam’s Sunderland were beaten 1-0 at the Boleyn Ground, but ultimately managed to stave off relegation.
This time around, Allardyce brings his Crystal Palace team to London Stadium, with the Eagles having won one of their last 12 Premier League matches.
A similar result will plunge Palace into further trouble and, potentially, the bottom three, so you can be sure Big Sam will be doing everything in his power to ensure his latest return is a successful one.
West Ham UNITED
Two home defeats with no goals scored were not the perfect way to kick-off 2017 at London Stadium.
However, as the Joint-Chairman, manager and players have stated repeatedly this week, West Ham United will take inspiration from vocal support when they face Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The London Stadium roar can be deafening and the Claret and Blue Army can spur the Hammers on to greater heights when in full voice.
A truly united front will certainly give West Ham a better chance to celebrate a belated happy New Year!
Both West Ham United and Crystal Palace will have squads depleted by the absence of players on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Hammers will be without Senegal midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and Ghana forward Andre Ayew, while the Eagles will have to make do without Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Zaha.
The team which copes best with its African absences could go a long way to deciding who leaves London Stadium victorious.
Sam Allardyce will not be the only former Hammer returning to east London on Saturday afternoon.
James Tomkins spent two decades with West Ham United, from schoolboy to first-team player, making 243 appearances and scoring eleven goals, winning promotion at Wembley in 2012.
A favourite among the Claret and Blue Army, the Essex-born defender gave 100 per cent whenever he appeared, either as a centre-half or as an emergency right-back.
Having left for no other reason than to seek regular first-team football, the 27-year-old will deserve the warm reception he gets from his one-time admirers.