Morning everyone. So bit of a mix up with the last few days, as holiday preparations and such may have got a little bit in the way. So you know, I`m away for the next week, and I am leaving you in very trusted hands. Watch this space. No, Quentin isn`t back already. Although he`s already thinking of a new pseudonym just in case.
So, the game is on. Its freezing, and Selhurst Park has no undersoil heating, but they`ve managed to keep the game on schedule. Good news for all you who will have already set off and may be reading this on the way.
Palace have had a very good season so far, mainly (it must be said) on the back of work down by our very own Douglas Freedman in his over two years at the helm. His replacement, Ian Holloway, has bags of experience of getting and keeping teams performing in the Championship, and it is no surprise to me that the transition hasn`t affected league position. They look a cert for the playoffs, and could even still sneak an automatic place.
I`m really quite jealous, that should be us. I suppose we can look at the Palace side as an example of how quickly a team in this division can change from strugglers to masters. It was only last year when they were struggling to stay up.
I think Dougie shares my sentiments about the minor differences between the Palace he left, and the one he will face.
He told the club website: “I`m looking forward to the game because the way we`ve performed in recent matches fills me with a lot of confidence. Crystal Palace haven`t made too many changes to their playing squad; they`re still doing well and still picking up results.
“I spent a long time down there, both as a player and a coach, and I expect to come up against a very similar team to the one that I left behind; one that`s very tough to break down. I`ve seen their players at close quarters but I`m concentrating on us and making sure that we`re set up in a way that gives us the best possible chance of winning the game. The game against Sunderland gave us a reminder that we are good enough to compete at a high level.”
Crystal Palace Team News:
An almost fully-fit squad is available for Olly to pick from. Jacob Butterfield, who we all we know well from his spell on loan at the Reebok, has just joined the Eagles on loan himself. Whilst there were flashes of promise, I don`t think we saw the best of him.
Player to watch: Zaha
Who else? The recently capped England international winger was a target for us last winter, and I think we wish we`d got him. I don`t think he`s Arsenal or United quality, but he`s certainly a Premier League player with plenty of skill and potential. He won the penalty that lost us the game in the reverse fixture, so he`s already shown he can break through the Wanderers defence with ease. Fingers crossed Dougie knows his game like the back of his hand, and has got our shaky backline prepared.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Sam Ricketts and Keith Davies have late fitness checks, whilst Mark Davies and Wheater are still out. It looks like our new signing Craig Davies might get a chance, but its our other ‘new signing` that I`m much more excited about??
Player to watch: Holden
I was ridiculously excited when Stu came on midweek, as I imagine you all were. If we can get another twenty minutes out of him today, then I`m sure he`ll be ready to start in the cup next week. I think I`m more excited about Stu then about my holiday, and that is no exaggeration.
Match Facts & Stats
Apparently, Palace haven`t lost a home game in their last twelve. This is grim reading, but surely it means they`re overdue one?
I think we`ll do it. 1-2. Buoyed by the result in the cup, I think we`ll find a new confidence in our play. Or so I hope.
Everton next week. After which, I can probably return to my pessimistic self.