What to Watch For: West Ham vs Crystal Palace

West Ham United's Italian defender Angelo Ogbonna. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
West Ham United's Italian defender Angelo Ogbonna. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

West Ham United continue their run of matches with a return to Premier League action with a London derby vs Crystal Palace. The Hammers could move into the Champions League spots with a win over the Eagles.

There will be plenty going on in the ninety minutes between the London rivals. Here is what to watch for in Matchweek 20.

West Ham’s Form Continues

West Ham has started 2021 unlike any other prior year—unbeaten in 5 matches across all competitions. There is no reason that run of form can’t continue here.

It’s not only the results for the Hammers but the way in which they have happened. The defence and goalkeeping have been outstanding, keeping 4 clean sheets in five matches. In the other game, vs West Brom, it was just one goal allowed.

The Irons have also been very professional in four of these past five matches, getting results against a tough side (Everton 1-0); results in tough conditions (Stockport FA Cup 1-0), and results against sides they should beat. (Burnley and WBA).

Admittedly, the Irons did play with their food a bit vs Stockport. But they got the win and moved on and the conditions were awful. And they more than made up for that against lower league side Doncaster at the weekend with a decisive 4-0 victory.

West Ham and Cyrstal Palace played out a 1-1 draw when they last met at the London Stadium earlier in the season.

Players Returning from a day of Rest

Michail Antonio, West Ham.
Michail Antonio, West Ham. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

David Moyes started the FA cup match against Doncaster with 7 changes in the starting XI  from the prior league game. In addition, he was also able to give debuts to youngsters Nathan Trott, Jamal Baptiste, and Oladapo Afolayan,  who also opened his West Ham account with a goal.

But with no reinforcements via the transfer window coming in just yet; the squad remains thin.  Therefore, we all know what the starting XI will look like vs Palace.

Michael Antonio and Jarrod Bowen will return to lead the Hammers attack.  Declan Rice will be back in midfield and the entire backline of Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbanna, Craig Dawson and Vladamir Coufal will return.

Or Will He?

Craig Dawson has been better than expected playing alongside Ogbanna for West Ham. So much so that he appears to be a fixture on defence at the moment.

Or did early-season mainstay Fabian Balbuena do enough to earn his place back into the starting XI for the manager?

Related Story. West Ham Chasing Top Four Against Palace | Match Preview. light

It was also good to see Issa Diop get game action, but many think that was a performance for the shop window and not to prove to the Manager that he is ready to supplant Dawson.

And considering that Andriy Yarmalenko started as a striker vs Doncaster, talk of Diop being used as Antonio’s backup seems to have waned.

It will be interesting to see if Diop is still a Hammer on February 1.

Irons Need a Derby Win

For all of the positives around the club this season; and there have been plenty, the Irons record in London Derbies is not great.

West Ham’s record is 1 win, 2 draws, and 2 losses. Only Fulham has fewer points in Derbies so far this season.  That should improve here.

Palace has had trouble scoring goals on their recent run. Netting only five total goals in their last eight matches including being shut out four times since early December. Considering West Ham’s stinginess in 2021, the table is set for the Irons to collect all three points in this matchup.

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Where to Watch

West Ham vs Crystal Palace TV Coverage   UK: BT Sport 2    USA: Peacock     CAN: DAZN

AUS: Optus Sport CHN: QQ Sports Live / PPTV Sports China MEX: Sky HD  UAE: BeIn Sports HD5