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Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Crystal Palace - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's FA Cup clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace will lock horns in the FA Cup on Friday night with a spot in the fourth round of the competition on offer.

Both sides have posted identical records in the league this season - six wins, four draws and seven defeats from 17 matches - but it will be the first FA Cup clash between the teams for almost 11 years.


Match preview

Pedro Neto celebrates scoring for Wolverhampton Wanderers against Chelsea in the Premier League on December 15, 2020© Reuters

The FA Cup represents a genuine opportunity for teams such as Wolves to win a trophy, but it remains to be seen whether head coach Nuno Espirito Santo treats the competition as a priority this term.

The hosts will not enter Friday's clash in the best of form, having gone four games without a victory in the Premier League, which has seen them drop into 13th position in the table; they are only four points off the top eight, though, and could still be in the mix for a European spot come the end of the season.

Wolves are four-time winners of the FA Cup, with their last success coming in 1960, but they were knocked out in the third round of last season's competition by Manchester United, and Nuno could take the opportunity to rest a number of key players ahead of their next league game with Everton on January 12.

The 2017-18 Championship winners have recorded 2-0 victories in their last two home games with Palace, although these two sides have not locked horns in the FA Cup since February 2010, when Palace, who had recently entered administration, triumphed 3-1 to advance into the fifth round of the competition.

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson pictured on January 2, 2020© Reuters

The visitors have never won the FA Cup but have reached the final on two occasions, most recently in 2016, when they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Man United courtesy of a stoppage-time Jesse Lingard effort.

The Eagles have also had some recent difficulties in the Premier League, losing back-to-back games against Liverpool and Aston Villa between December 19 and December 26, conceding 10 times in the process.

Roy Hodgson's side picked up a welcome point at home to Leicester City on December 28, though, before recording an important 2-0 victory over Sheffield United last weekend. As mentioned, Palace have 22 points from their 17 matches and are currently 14th in the table ahead of their next game away to Arsenal.

Team selection for this match will be fascinating, particularly as the Eagles will face Arsenal and Manchester City away in their next two league fixtures, and the league is again expected to take priority.

The nature and unpredictability of this season could bring about a surprise winner in the FA Cup, though, and Palace would certainly be full of confidence if they managed to overcome Wolves on Friday night.

Wolverhampton Wanderers FA Cup form: WWWLDL
Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions): LWLDLD

Crystal Palace FA Cup form: LWWWLL
Crystal Palace form (all competitions): DDLLDW


Team News

Crystal Palace winger Eberechi Eze celebrates scoring against Sheffield United on January 2, 2021© Reuters

Wolves still have their fair share of injury problems, with Raul Jimenez, Jonny Castro and Leander Dendoncker definitely out of this contest, while Willy Boly is again a huge doubt.

Fernando Marcal and Daniel Podence could be involved, but Nuno is unlikely to take any risks with the latter, meaning that he could return from a calf strain against Everton rather than Palace.

Max Kilman, Owen Otasowie, John Ruddy and Ki-Jana Hoever could all come into the XI following the Brighton clash, while Fabio Silva is again expected to be given the opportunity to lead the line.

There is also a chance that both Patrick Cutrone and Morgan Gibbs-White could be involved for the hosts, having returned to the club following loan spells.

As for Palace, Nathan Ferguson, Scott Dann, Wayne Hennessey, Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp, Connor Wickham and Gary Cahill are all injured, while Christian Benteke is a doubt with a dead leg.

Hodgson is expected to ring the changes following the clash with Sheffield United, meaning that the likes of Jack Butland, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick Van Aanholt and Michy Batshuayi should all earn starts.

James McCarthy and Jordan Ayew could also be handed positions in the XI, while Eberechi Eze, who replaced Schlupp off the bench against Sheffield United before scoring a spectacular goal, should be in the side.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Ruddy; Hoever, Kilman, Coady, Ait Nouri; Moutinho, Neves; Traore, Vitinha, Otasowie; Silva

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Butland; Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Townsend, McCarthy, Riedewald, Eze; Ayew, Batshuayi


SM words green background

We say: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Crystal Palace

There is certainly an argument that Palace have a stronger squad than Wolves despite the fact that the Eagles are struggling with injury problems of their own. The visitors will also enter the match in the stronger form, and we just have a feeling for Hodgson's side here, ultimately backing them to edge a tight contest.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo pictured on August 10, 2020
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14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves620435-26
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