Crystal Palace face their opening Premier League away game of the season this weekend, as Roy Hodgson’s side travel to Sheffield United.
The Eagles will be hoping to kick on after last season’s goalless draw at home to Everton, with the match taking place on Sunday afternoon.
It was a solid but unspectacular start to the campaign for Palace, with pre-match preparations complicated by talk surrounding Wilfried Zaha’s future.
The Ivorian has stayed put at Selhurst Park, however, and looks focused despite not being granted a move to Everton.
Palace’s weekend opponents started their return to the top flight with a credible 1-1 draw at Bournemouth, thanks to Billy Sharp’s late equaliser at Dean Court.
Bramall Lane will be bouncing for the weekend clash, so Hodgson’s men will have to be switched on if they want to avoid an upset.
Here are four key battles to keep an eye out for as Palace search for their first win of the season.
Wilfried Zaha vs George Baldock
Zaha is expected to start on Sunday and he will be the most talented player on the pitch.
Baldock will be tasked with stopping him, likely playing at right wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation.
Zaha will look to exploit Chris Wilder’s system, making the most of space in behind when Baldock attacks.
Luka Milivojevic vs John Fleck
Fleck was one of Sheffield United’s outstanding players in the Championship last season and he will be looking to prove that he can also shine in the Premier League.
Milivojevic will be one of those tasked with winning the midfield battle for Palace – he has the ability to put Fleck in his place.
Gary Cahill vs Billy Sharp
There is a chance that these two veterans could both start at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
That would mean a debut for Cahill, who will need to be alert up against the lethal Sharp.
Jordan Ayew vs John Egan
With Zaha back, Hodgson must choose between Ayew and Christian Benteke to lead the line – it is expected to be the former.
He will be up against a three-man defence, but Egan is the central figure in the Blades’ back-line and the Palace striker must give him a restless afternoon.
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