Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Nottingham Forest

Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Nottingham Forest

Two of the Premier League’s most in-form sides meet on the final weekend, when Crystal Palace welcome Nottingham Forest to Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Due to the upturn in form shown by both sides, this match has become a dead rubber following Forest’s win against Arsenal last weekend which secured their survival.

When Roy Hodgson turned up for a second stint in charge at Crystal Palace, few would have expected the club to amass more points than most other sides in the league.

But that is exactly what has transpired, with Palace taking 17 points from a possible 27 under Hodgson, ending relegation fears just a matter of weeks after the 75-year-old took over two months ago.

Under Patrick Vieira, Palace did not win any of their 13 matches in 2023 and were sleepwalking into a relegation battle, but the change in management has revitalised their season, leaving them 13 points clear of trouble up in 11th.

Matching or bettering Chelsea’s result on the final day will secure their spot in 11th, and in doing so, recording their joint-best Premier League finish in eight seasons.

There is a high possibility of that happening too, considering Palace are unbeaten here at Selhurst Park since Hodgson returned, taking 10 points from a possible 12 at home.

The form of Eberechi Eze has been paramount to that success, both here and on the road, as six goals and one assist in his last eight appearances earned the 24-year-old an England call up this week.

Eze’s 10 goals this season is double what he managed in his first two seasons at Palace combined, showing that the midfielder is flourishing under Hodgson’s stewardship.

Another anecdote which will give the Eagles faithful confidence ahead of this clash is that they have not lost any of their last 10 matches on the final day when playing at home, winning seven.

After taking just three points from 11 games between early February and late April, Nottingham Forest looked bang in trouble heading into the final stretch of the season.

However, form at the City Ground has single-handedly kept Steve Cooper’s side in the Premier League against the odds this season.

Three straight wins at home to finish the campaign is what has done the trick for the newly-promoted side, as they start the final day six points clear of trouble on 37 points.

While Eze has been electric for Palace, Forest have had their very own talisman who has stepped up to the plate at the perfect time, with Taiwo Awoniyi netting five goals in their last three games.

The Nigerian bagged the winner over Arsenal last week, after scoring back-to-back braces over Chelsea and Southampton.

What is more remarkable is how important Awoniyi’s goals are in the context of each specific match, as he has scored in seven separate matches this season, putting Forest 1-0 up each time.

On the road, Forest are a completely different side, though, and often struggle when they do not have that rapturous home support behind them.

Out of their 37 points, just seven have come away from home, a figure of just 18.9%, the lowest ratio of any top-flight side since both Hull City and Burnley collected fewer than 18% during the 2016-17 season.

Cooper’s men have conceded two or more in all of their last eight away matches too, and should they go one worse and let in at least three here, they and Bournemouth will become only the eighth and ninth clubs to survive Premier League relegation despite conceding 70+ goals.

Crystal Palace Premier League form:

Nottingham Forest Premier League form:

We say: Crystal Palace 3-0 Nottingham Forest
Palace have been scintillating under Hodgson, with Eze and Michael Olise taking centre stage with some fine performances.

After the high of sealing Premier League survival last weekend, Forest may still be in party mode and their poor away form could very well continue.

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