A well-rested Crystal Palace will be back in action when they host League Two outfit Hartlepool United in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Crystal Palace will hope to arrest their slide in form by progressing further in the FA Cup when they host League Two outfit Hartlepool United at Selhurst Park. A win on Saturday will boost their confidence when they resume their Premier League campaign.

Palace eased past Millwall in their third-round clash away from home as Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta’s goals ensured safe passage into the fourth round. The victory in the cup competition remains their only win from four games played in January, as they endured a difficult period on the pitch.

After winning against Norwich on 28th December, Palace suffered two defeats against West Ham United and Liverpool. A draw with Brighton in the M23 Derby was sandwiched between those two losses, which will not have pleased Vieira.

Their opponents, Hartlepool United, come into this clash on the back of a terrific win over Championship side Blackpool. They will be confident heading into the fourth round clash, although the London side will be on a different level to their previous opponents.

This will also be Hartlepool’s first appearance in the fourth round of the FA Cup in 13 years, and while their opponents are a much stronger bunch, they will still look to make most of the opportunity. However, with three wins in their last ten games in all competitions, form is not on their side.

Team News & Tactics

Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira is expected to field a strong lineup for this FA Cup fourth-round clash, as there is a considerable gap between this game and their next Premier League fixture. They have handled the fitness and injuries in the squad over the winter break and have very few problems to contend with.

Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew have returned from the AFCON some time ago. However, Vieira is still assessing their fitness and could make a late decision over fielding them against Hartlepool United. The manager might exclude Zaha, although Ayew could still come into the side.

James McArthur has returned to training after recovering from an injury, while James Tomkins is also back into the fray. The pair could be assessed before the game to determine their availability. Cheikhou Kouyate will be absent as he remains at the AFCON, with Senegal set to play in the final.

Vieira could go with Jack Butland in goal, while Joachim Andersen, Marc Guehi, Joel Ward and Tyrick Mitchell will form the backline for the Eagles. Conor Gallagher is likely to feature in midfield alongside Luka Milivojevic and Jeffrey Schlupp.

Ayew could slot into the front three. Striker Jean-Philippe Mateta, who was signed permanently in the January transfer window, will lead the line for the Eagles, with Eberechi Eze providing the attacking impetus from the left side. Third round hero Michael Olise might be kept on the bench as Vieira would want him fresh for their next Premier League clash.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Butland; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Ayew, Mateta, Eze

Hartlepool United

Skipper Nicky Featherstone is the only notable absentee for Hartlepool United, as he remains suspended due to a red card offence against Exeter City. Manager Graeme Lee could use new loan arrival Omar Bogle in the lineup. Meanwhile, another January signing Marcus Carver will sit this one out as he remains cup-tied.

Lee could field a more defensive lineup with a back three in place. Neill Byrne, Gary Liddle and Timi Odusina could form the partnership in central defence, with David Ferguson and Jamie Sterry helping out as wing-backs.

Gavan Holohan, Tom Crawford and Mark Shelton could be lining up in central midfield, as Lee would prefer three players there to match Palace in the middle of the park. Omar Bogle and Luke Molyneux will be responsible for leading the line, hoping to cause the hosts’ defence some trouble.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Killip; Byrne, Liddle, Odusina; Sterry, Holohan, Crawford, Shelton, Ferguson; Bogle, Molyneux

Key Stats

  • Hartlepool have won their last three games in the FA Cup by a one-goal margin.
  • Hartlepool last featured in the FA Cup fourth round 13 years ago.
  • Hartlepool have never reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in their history.
  • Crystal Palace and Hartlepool last met in 2004, with the London side winning that League Cup fixture.
  • Crystal Palace managed just a single victory in four matches in January, which came against Millwall in the FA Cup.

Player To Watch

Jean-Philippe Mateta

Embed from Getty Images

It is quite unusual for a backup striker to feature as the player to watch, but Mateta will have plenty to contribute in the second half of the season. He will be delighted with Palace’s decision to make his loan move permanent, considering that they were chasing other strikers like Eddie Nketiah throughout January.

Mateta now needs to establish himself as a reliable option for the Eagles and a good performance in the FA Cup could convince Vieira to use him more regularly. He has a terrific chance against Hartlepool to do just that and score some much-needed goals.


Crystal Palace 3-0 Hartlepool United

Crystal Palace are expected to win this clash comfortably. The London side are much more diverse and superior in quality than their League Two opponents, which will be key in determining the final result.

Hartlepool’s form hasn’t been great and is unlikely to improve coming up against their Premier League opponents. The away team will at least be looking to put in a fighting performance and learn from the experience of playing a top-flight team, although the result is expected to go only one way.

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