After a calamitous collapse after leading 10 man Liverpool 1-0, Crystal Palace suffered yet another last minute goal, with home fans watching on as Christian Benteke slotted in a 96th minute penalty after Damien Delaney brought the Belgium striker down with minimal contact. This result now leaves Pardew’s men sat 15th in the table and nervously looking over their shoulder as they are still the only Premier League outfit without a league win in 2016.
With an FA cup quarter-final with the Royals on the horizon, the Eagles' poor run of form will be like music to Reading fans’ ears, and at least for now, all signs point to consecutive FA Cup semi-finals for the Royals. However, despite a poor start to the Premier League in 2016, Crystal Palace need to be taken seriously, as they still possess an array of quality players that could definitely do us damage come Friday night. But just who are the players that can inflict this damage on a thus far flawless FA Cup run for the Royals?
A somewhat unlikely diamond in the rough of Palace’s defence this season, Dann commands the back four. With the centre back standing at 6'5", it isn’t difficult to see why. A composed customer, he brings confidence as well as experience to a shaky backline that has been hugely criticised in recent times, with Dann an exception to this criticism. As well as fulfilling his defensive duties, Dann also does a job going forward, remarkably the leading (joint with Connor Wickham and Yohan Cabaye) goal scorer for the club for this campaign with 5 goals. So we will have to hope that Jake Cooper can match Scott Dann’s aerial prowess from set pieces to keep the former Blackburn skipper at bay.
Signed for a club record, undisclosed fee at the beginning of the season, the Frenchman was seen as a huge coup for the club, having represented his country over 40 times and playing Champions League football at previous employers PSG. Cabaye settled back into life in the Premier League almost imminently, as if he had never left, netting on his Palace debut with the last goal in a 3-1 away win at Norwich on the opening day. He has since gone on to net four more times from a deep midfield position, forcing club captain Mile Jedinak to the bench. However this has since changed and Palace have pushed the former Newcastle man into a more attacking position where it is fair to say he hasn’t enjoyed much glory in recent times, but he is still more than capable of inflicting damage on the Royals. It should also be noted that Pardew declared in his post-match press conference that Cabaye had picked up a knock that forced him off in the 70th minute, so possibly more bad news for Palace fans? Only time will tell.
A key battle that could really shape the outcome of this fixture, the Congolese winger will take on Chris Gunter - easily the Welshman’s toughest opponent this season. Bolasie possesses a huge amount of pace on top of an incredible amount of skill and trickery which could leave the Royals' defence twisting and turning all night long (the Fulham penalty incident springs to mind). The winger hasn’t enjoyed the best time in front of goal this term, bagging 4 in 18 appearances, but he holds the record of the first Crystal Palace player to score a hat-trick in the Prem. We will have to pray that Chris is up to the task and can deal with a pacey player that has the ability to run rings round him.
I know, I know, this is a very controversial shout for a key Palace player, but one of the most hated men in North London is not one to be overlooked. He boasts a fair amount of experience, and also brings with him a real threat in the air, and if our marking is as abysmal as it was in the Charlton game, we may really have our work cut out.
So, the real question is: can Brian mend our defensive frailties of late and turn us back into the side that had the Baggies reeling? We will find out on Friday night, but who do YOU think Palace's dangermen are? Leave us a comment below.