A London derby on Saturday between West Ham and Crystal Palace promises to be a feisty encounter, given how close these two teams are to each other in the table.
In recent years, it is West Ham who’ve had the upper hand on Palace, in terms of the head to head record. Palace are yet to win at the London Stadium since West Ham moved there in 2016, meaning the Hammers are somewhat of a bogey side for the Eagles.
In terms of league finishes, since Palace gained promotion in 2013, they have finished above West Ham a total of 3 times in their 6 consecutive top flight seasons, therefore there really isn’t much to separate the two sides, as far as recent history goes.
Due to the fact these teams are in similar positions in the 8th game-week, here is our most accurate attempt at a combined XI between the two London sides:
GK - Łukasz Fabiański
In truth, both sides have fantastic goalkeepers in Vicente Guaita and Łukasz Fabiański, but the latter has arguably had a bigger impact on his side since joining from Arsenal.
Fabianski has one of the best save succession rates in the league and given how unreliable West Ham’s defence is, that is no easy feat.
Even though the Polish international will miss the game on Saturday through injury, we can’t look past him when doing a general overview of both squads.
RB - Ryan Fredericks
Last season, this would have been a no-brainer, due to Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s breakthrough, however since he departed for Manchester United, a void has been left unfilled in Palace’s team.
Whilst Joel Ward has been solid enough for the Eagles so far, his lack of pace can prove detrimental in certain games. Especially against of Felipe Anderson’s ilk, whom he will be facing this weekend.
Even though Ryan Fredericks does not read the game as well as the experienced Ward, what he lacks in awareness, he makes up for in pace. His desire to get forward makes him an extremely capable modern fullback.
CB - Issa Diop
As a defensive unit, Palace are clearly the better outfit, as they concede less goals and keep more clean sheets than West Ham, but it is hard to ignore the talent of French U21, Issa Diop.
Gaining the plaudits of Jose Mourinho last season, Diop has proven himself to be an extremely competent defender for his age and was rumoured to have attracted interest from clubs like Manchester United in the Summer.
Gary Cahill was a strong option also, having started the season so well, but we opted for Diop due to his youth and potential.
CB - Mamadou Sakho
Mamadou Sakho completes this all-French CB pairing, and it is hard to disagree, given his huge impact on Palace’s side since making the switch from Liverpool in 2017.
Due to injury, Sakho hasn’t had the start to the new season he would have wanted, but there is no denying his talent. If it wasn’t for a bust-up with Jurgen Klopp, he’d arguably still be apart of the Liverpool squad right now.
Much is made about how he is a clumsy defender, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst Sakho has his moments, he is arguably one of the best ball-playing CBs outside the ‘big six’. His ability to play midfield-splitting passes has aided Palace massively in taking a more expansive approach to games.
LB - Patrick van Aanholt
The Dutch fullback has endured a tough run of form in 2019, frustrating most Palace fans, however, we’ve opted for him purely because West Ham don’t have anyone better.
Arthur Masuaku is just as capable of making defensive howlers, if not worse than van Aanholt, whilst Cresswell also isn’t popular with the West Ham faithful.
Van Aanholt’s boastfulness going forward can be frustrating at times, but there is no denying that he can be the difference in games where Palace need to stretch the opposition .
CDM - Luka Milivojevic
Palace’s set-piece king, and captain makes the cut due to his leadership and reliability in Palace’s side. Having played every minute of every game last season, the Serb often forms the backbone of Palace’s team every game.
Whilst Mark Noble is just as reliable from the penalty spot, Milivojevic does have a bit more about him, in the way of technical ability, as we’ve seen him score free-kicks, and other types of goals for the Eagles.
CM - Declan Rice
West Ham’s wonder-kid, Declan Rice, was always going to make this team, as his breakthrough in recent years has been beneficial for English football in general.
Rice started off as capable defensive midfielder, but the more he plays, the more he is growing into being an effective box to box midfielder, with driving runs and sharp passes through the middle.
Having made the switch from Ireland to England on the international stage, Rice is becoming a regular pick for Gareth Southgate’s England squad as well.
CM - Manuel Lanzini
Lanzini would provide the creative spark in a midfield three, and with his goal-scoring record against the Eagles, it’s hard to look past him.
The other contender for this place was Max Meyer, however, the German has yet to really flourish in the top flight, meaning Lanzini was the obvious choice.
RW - Wilfried Zaha
Zaha was always going to be a certainty for this XI, as the Ivorian would get into almost every single team in the league, barring the powerhouses at the top of the table.
Having attracted interest from Arsenal and Everton in the Summer, Zaha has made a relatively slow start to the new season by his standards, but after a devastating performance against Norwich last weekend, Palace fans will be hoping he can carry this form into Saturday’s game.
Zaha also has some history in this fixture, as he netted a 97th-minute equaliser against the Hammers at Selhurst Park in the 17/18 season.
LW - Felipe Anderson
Felipe Anderson rounds off a strong set of wingers for this combined XI, as Zaha and Anderson on either flank would be enough to frighten any team in the league.
Despite only signing from Lazio last Summer in a deal worth up to £41.5 million, the Brazilian already has some history in this fixture, as he curled one into the top corner against Palace at the London Stadium last season to help West Ham on their way to all three points.
ST - Sebastian Haller
This position wasn’t in any doubt, as West Ham’s brand new marquee signing has made a good first impression in the West Ham side.
The Hammers secured Haller for a club-record fee from Frankfurt in the Summer, and he is already proving why they were so keen to splash the cash on him, with 3 goals and some strong hold-up play to boot.
Palace really didn’t have a lot to bargain with for this position, even though Jordan Ayew is enjoying a good run of form this season.