Leeds United are a unique side in the Premier League. Their return to the top-flight after 16 seasons has not been met by the usual pessimism of predicted low finishes, questions of their quality and talk of ‘enjoying it while it lasts’.
Instead, they have been immediately regarded as a competitor, a dark horse to push for mid-table.
Perhaps it’s their stature as England’s once most successful club. Perhaps it’s their manager, Marcelo Bielsa. Or perhaps it's the dazzling attacking intent they displayed across two promotion-hunting Championship seasons.
Whatever the reasons, Palace have an enticing task on their hands as they open Selhurst’s doors for Bielsa’s Whites.
The early signs justify the unusual belief in the Premier League newcomers: where Fulham and West Bromwich Albion sit 17th and 18th respectively, Leeds are perched in 12th. They have taken points from Manchester City and Sheffield United and put three goals past Liverpool and in-form Aston Villa.
Key to this early success - similarly instrumental to Palace’s relatively bright start as Wilfried Zaha - is Patrick Bamford, the Whites’ goal-hungry frontman.
Palace fans will of course know Bamford from his stint in south London, when the then-Chelsea loanee joined for a brief period in 2015.
After this, further loans to Norwich City and Burnley followed but Bamford failed to find the net from 22 appearances across the three teams.
Then, having joined Middlesbrough on a permanent basis, the striker started to rediscover his form. Emulating the success he enjoyed at MK Dons (21 from 44), Derby County (eight from 23) and Boro in an earlier loan spell (19 from 44), Bamford bagged 13 goals from 44 games in 17/18, earning him a move to the other end of Yorkshire with Leeds United.
Here, he would bag 10 from 25 in 18/19, 16 from 47 the following season and now six from seven in the current campaign.
Add one assist to his tally and Bamford has contributed to seven goals so far for Bielsa in 20/21 - over half of their total.
A hat-trick against Villa at the end of October will ensure Bamford brings momentum with him to SE25, but stumbling in a 4-1 loss to Leicester City at the start of this week highlights Leeds’ defensive vulnerability and tees-up an enticing clash between 12th and 13th.
Did you know?
Zaha’s five league goals this season have been worth seven points to Palace – no other players’ strikes have been more valuable to their team so far this term.
As above, keeping Bamford quiet will be crucial for Roy Hodgson’s Eagles, who boast a better defensive record than their guests.
Bamford’s 27 shots is the third-most of any player in the league. Bielsa’s highly-praised attacking style will only encourage this, so should Palace seek to hold their shape, invite pressure and strike Leeds on the counter, supporters can expect to see a great deal of shots aimed towards Vicente Guaita’s goal.
Roy Hodgson was relatively positive on the fitness front. You can read his update here.
The Eagles will however be without Luka Milivojevic, who received a red card against Wolves.
Leeds will miss Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo Moreno, while Jay-Roy Grot, Adam Forshaw and Diego Llorente are longer-term absentees.
How to follow
Palace v Leeds will be shown live in the UK via BT Sport Box Office. Full details can be found here.
Palace supporters all over the world can listen to live audio commentary of every Palace fixture in the 2020/21 season for just £1.49 per game on the official club app, mobile internet or on desktop.
Fans can buy a 24-Hour Pass (for a single matchday) for £1.49 by clicking here.
You can check out our Instagram story for all of the pre-match build-up and our official Twitter page is bringing you up-to-the-minute match updates, eye catching photos and more.
Our club website, cpfc.co.uk, is the place to go for team news on the dot, an instant report and all the post-match votes.
The official app
The official Palace app’s match centre is the place to be for everything you need during the Leeds clash. With live stats and alerts, a running match commentary feed and lineups the moment they’re released as well as all an instant match report and post-match reaction from Palace TV, there’s no need to leave the app to follow the Eagles’ efforts.
For fans following from abroad, have a look at our Worldwide TV Listings here.