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Match Previews

The Palace Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers

2 January 2019

Tonight, Crystal Palace head to the Midlands where they will face Wolverhampton Wanderers in their first match of 2019 looking to regain their form after a 1-0 loss against Chelsea on Sunday.

Wolves are playing on the back of a blistering victory over Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday, a game they won 3-1 away having started by trailing 1-0. They have won four of their past six fixtures, including a win over Sunday’s victors Chelsea in November.

However, in spite of their strong form and ability to compete with the league’s top teams, the Wanderers have also suffered some hard-to-take losses at the hands of Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion.

On the whole, however, Nuno Espirito Santo's side have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with this season.

Something Palace’s frontline will have to focus on is a strong home defence, who have conceded fewer goals than both Arsenal and Manchester United.

One defender that stands out for Wolves, though not quite playing in a conventional defence, is Matt Doherty, a 26-year-old Republic of Ireland international. Doherty is typically deployed as a right wing-back, playing in a very attacking role high up the pitch and has played in every single one of Wolves’ league matches this season while scoring three goals and claiming four assists. 

The most notable threat in terms of creating goals, however, comes from Mexican forward Raul Jimenez, who has been involved in 10 of Wolves’ 23 so far with six balls hitting the back of the net and four assists.

Looking back over recent games, Palace can take heart from their relative success against Wolves as the Eagles have won three of the two sides’ past five encounters, drawing once and losing the other.

The match which stands out between Palace and Wolves at Molineux, however, arguably comes from further back - 2008 - when the Eagles made the 300-mile round trip north to notch up a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Clinton Morrison, Sean Scannell and Jamie Scowcroft.

Stepping down to the Championship that day was Howard Webb, who would referee the 2009 FA Cup Final in the next season as well as having been the man in the middle for the 2007 League Cup Final the season before.

Also on the pitch then was a certain Wayne Hennessey, as the then-Wolverhampton shot-stopper continued to establish his authority and stake his claim for the number one spot under Mick McCarthy.

Elsewhere, Palace fans will want to keep an eye on Newcastle United's match against newly in-form Manchester United. The Red Devils have won their past three games and have scored a total of 12 goals while doing so. Palace's match with Wolves therefore affords the Eagles a chance to move clear of Newcastle in the Premier League table should Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side win, as the teams are only separated by one point before the fixtures kick-off.

The match will take place at 20.00 tonight under the lights of St James' Park.

Tactical overview

Wolves currently sit seventh in the league table, and have achieved their success largely through intense, attacking football with a back three that allows for attacking wing-backs to support an often lethal offensive triangle.

They can be seen to counter-attack very well with this system and have shown that their relentless ability to romp forward with pressure can break even the best teams down, such as with their late 3-1 win over a pinned-back Tottenham side.

Your matchday stat & ref

Wolves have scored a league-high ratio 78% of their Premier League goals in the second half of games this season (18/23), with their five goals scored in the opening 45 minutes a league-low figure.

Refereeing this match will be Roger East, who will be assisted by Adrian Holmes, Derek Eaton and Lee Mason as fourth official.

Team news

For the Eagles, there seem to be no new injury updates bar Christian Benteke's ongoing forced absence.

For Wolves, Diego Jota has been sidelined for their past three matches but may well be available tonight. Adama Traore was substituted against Spurs with a slight hamstring injury. Nuno has stated that he 'will see' whether either of the pair are fit to play.

Live Coverage

This match will not be shown live on television in the UK, however Palace Audio will make full commentary of the game available to fans for just £1.49. Find out more here.

Fans in the USA can watch the game live on NBC Sports Gold while if you live abroad elsewhere, you can find out where to watch the match with our Worldwide TV Listings.

Alternatively, if following from outside the United Kingdom, why not check if there is an Official Supporters' Club meeting near you? You can find the nearest one to you here.

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