Paddy McCarthy’s side have been in imperious form at home, winning their last three matches on the trot and scoring 11 goals in the process. After completing a league double over Chelsea and comfortably beating Southampton, a David Omilabu hattrick fired them to victory over West Ham United last time out.
It means Palace have lost just one of their last 11 games as their title charge gathers momentum, and a fourth win in a row this weekend would see them go three points clear at the top.
Last time the two sides met Aston Villa came out on top, a result that made it seven wins out of nine and saw them establish themselves as title contenders. Since then however, they have won just two of their last nine in the league and now sit 12 points off top spot, albeit with two games in hand.
While their league form has suffered – they conceded seven at home to Chelsea last time out – their FA Youth Cup run shows their undeniable collective ability. After victories over Reading and Brighton & Hove Albion, they put nine past Burton Albion at Villa Park on Wednesday evening to set up a quarter-final with Newcastle United.
A win for Palace would be a huge boost to their title hopes, as they look to complete a remarkable first season as a Category 1 Academy. The winner of the U18s Premier League South will face their counterparts in the U18s Premier League North, with the winner not only being crowned champions, but qualifying for European football next season.