Fulham-Crystal Palace Preview
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira remains keen for Wilfried Zaha to remain at Selhurst Park, but acknowledges their star man must make his own call, ahead of a Premier League clash with Fulham.
The Ivory Coast international has been a key performer for the Eagles since his permanent return from Manchester United, and has been named their Player of the Season on three occasions.
But with a contract up at the end of the campaign, the forward may look to move on to new pastures, particularly as he heads towards the latter stages of his career.
Vieira however remains hopeful he will pen an extension, but acknowledges the call will be Zaha’s to make and in his own time.
“I think Wilfried knows the position of the club and the decision is going to be his – and when he is ready, we will listen to what he has to say,” he said.
“But I think everybody knows we want him to stay at our football club, we want to grow with Wilfried as one of our leaders and the decision has to be his.
“However, the only focus at the moment is the way he’s been training and how he’s preparing himself to compete and help the team to perform.”
On the upcoming transfer window, Viera added he hopes to find a new recruit, stating: “We are quite short on numbers. What is important for us is to find the right players with the profile we have identified.”
Meanwhile, opposite number Marco Silva suggests Fulham will hit the ground running, as they look to maintain their early season form.
“Six weeks is a long break at this stage,” he added. “[But] we adapted really well; we did a good camp with the players and some work at the training ground. We are ready to go again.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Palace – Wilfried Zaha
The Ivory Coast international key for the Eagles and it is through his drive they have found creative power. 147 of the 300 off-the-ball runs he has made this season have seen a teammate trying to find him (49 per cent), the highest percentage of targeted runs by any player to make at least 100.
Fulham – Aleksandar Mitrovic
Fresh from a subdued World Cup campaign, the Serbia international will hope to resume his form in these local fixtures. He has found the back of the net in each of his last three London derbies in the Premier League, having just scored once in his first 17.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last five Premier League meetings with Fulham (W3 D2) since a 4-1 home loss in October 2013.
– Fulham have failed to score in three of their four Premier League away games against Crystal Palace (W1 D1 L2), with the exception being a 4-1 victory in October 2013.
– Fulham have won just one of their last 28 Premier League London derby matches (D5 L22), beating Brentford 3-2 earlier this season. They’ve scored as many goals in their four derby matches this season as they had in their previous 14 in the top-flight (6).
– Crystal Palace have won just one of their last seven Boxing Day games in the Premier League, losing the last two by a 3-0 scoreline. They last lost three consecutive league games on this day between 1999 and 2001.
– Six of Fulham’s last eight Premier League Boxing Day games have been draws, with the exceptions being a 3-1 loss to West Ham in 2010 and a 2-1 win at Norwich in 2013.