Crystal Palace-Cardiff City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

The Welsh capital will host a huge game in the Premier League's relegation battle on Saturday when Cardiff City face Crystal Palace.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff (6-8-18) are in the bottom three with just six games remaining, but know a win over Palace would pull them closer to the pack of teams ahead - one of whom are Saturday's visitors, who are five points clear.

However, the Bluebirds have just one win in their last eight league games and own a terrible minus-32 goal differential having scored the fourth-fewest goals and conceded the second most in the division.

Despite their poor form, Solskjaer is hoping their stoppage-time equaliser against West Bromwich Albion a week ago will give the players the boost that they need for the run-in.

"We've been waiting 32 games for the turning point and I think we've finally got it," said the Cardiff boss. "My team talk changes immensely, and their character and belief and feeling is that we got something back and we are still in with a chance. We have got six games left and we will definitely start better on Saturday.

"It's another big game, and I hope to see our attendance record broken again. If we can win that one it pulls in another team around us, keeping us in contention. Our fans can play a big part in that, as will my players who will give everything."

Saturday's visitors Crystal Palace (9-4-18) picked up their first victory in six games last weekend, a remarkable 1-0 upset over title-chasers Chelsea that dumped them from the top of the table. Tony Pulis' side put in one of the surprise performances of the season to make a big impact at both ends of the division, but the Palace manager is keen not to focus on that success before Premier League survival is secured.

"It was three points against Chelsea but that is gone now," said Pulis. "The most important thing is to focus on the next game, which is probably going to be more difficult. The lads can take a lot from the way they played last weekend but that goes out the window when we kick-off on Saturday. All that counts now is the Cardiff game.

"We need to make sure we put in enough performances like last weekend to get us over the line. If people think it is all over and done with after the Chelsea game it isn't, we have still got to get the points because everyone down there is fighting.

"Cardiff will want to drag us back into it. They have got some good players - It will be a very difficult game for us but we have known that all season."

Cardiff have injury doubts over Craig Noone (knock) and Mark Hudson (hamstring), while Crystal Palace have concerns over the fitness of Dwight Gayle (ankle) and Marouane Chamakh (hamstring).

Palace ran out 2-0 winners when these teams met at Selhurst Park back in December. Cameron Jerome and Chamakh scored the goals as the hosts out-shot their visitors 19-10. There was not a single yellow card despite 19 fouls being given.

The recent record between these sides is split, with each winning four of the last eight meetings. However, Palace haven't won any of their last seven at Cardiff and have lost the last three at the ground by a combined score of 5-1.

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