Hartlepool United face Crystal Palace away at Selhurst Park, Saturday 3pm kick off, with 4700 Pools fans heading down to watch their side play a Premier League in the FA Cup Fourth Round.
It is a massive game and is a fantastic reward for Graeme Lee’s men after all their hard work in the competition this season.
Pools have knocked out League One sides Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City and Championship Blackpool on their road to the fourth round.
Crystal Palace is Pools’ next test and could another upset be on the cards? What should Lee’s side expect against their Premier League opposition.
Crystal Palace are currently 13th in the Premier League and are coming to the end of their winter break. Last time out, they were defeated by Liverpool at home after goals from Virgil Van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Fabinho, and they’ve won two of their last five in all. A win over Millwall in the third round and victory over Norwich City came either side of a defeat to West Ham, while they’ve also drawn 1-1 with Brighton in that time.
This will be just the 12th meeting between the sides, and the first since a Carling Cup clash in 2004. On that day, Pools lost 2-1 in London after Dougie Freedman cancelled out Eifion Williams’ goal, and then Tom Soares scored in extra-time. Before that, a famous night at The Victoria Ground saw Andy Saville tuck away an 84th-minute penalty to defeat Steve Coppell’s side 1-0 in the FA Cup third round.
Hartlepool United shocked Crystal Palace to 1-0 back in 1993 in the FA Cup to advance to the fourth round, the last time that happened.
Across the years Pools and Palace have faced each other 11 times, Pools have won four, lost five and drew two of those games – dating back to the first game in 1958.
The South London side are currently 13th in the Premier League table sitting on 24 points with five wins, nine draws and 8 losses. They have scored 31 goals in the league and conceded 34 putting them on a –3 goal difference so far.
Michael Olise and Jean-Phillipe Mateta helped Palace to a 2-1 win in their previous round of the FA Cup against Millwall. Former Hartlepool United loanee Tyler Burey featured in that game coming off the bench for Benik Afobe in the 81st minute for the Lions.
In their last five games they have won one, drew one and lost three but are in a comfortable position in the table and should see the game against Pools as a chance to bounce back – but Lee and his men will have other ideas.
Premier League and World Cup winner, Patrick Vieira took charge of Crystal Palace at the beginning of this season following the departure of Roy Hodgson.
Vieira has changed the way Palace play, being more attacking and proactive, opposed to Hodgson’s pragmatic, counter-attacking style.
The former Arsenal captain has also managed New York City FC in the MLS and OGC Nice in Ligue 1 in France.
With a man of his calibre in the opposite dugout it will be a great opportunity for all the staff and players on Saturday.
The man on loan from Chelsea, has been exceptional for Palace this season – according to whoscored.com he is the fourth highest rated Premier League player this season with a 7.36 rated (higher than Kevin de Bruyne).
Gallagher is also Palace’s top scorer and assister with seven goals and three assists so far in the campaign, his form has earned him an England cap and he will certainly be hard to contain for Lee’s men on Saturday.
22-year-old Mitchell is enjoying a breakthrough season for Palace, earning his place as the number one left back.
With an average 2.9 tackles per 90 minutes, the eighth highest in the top flight, Jamie Sterry may have his work cut out for him.
Many football fans will know what quality Zaha has, Palace looked to be without their talisman as he was away with Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations. But after their defeat on penalties to Egypt last Wednesday he is back training with Palace and ready for selection at the weekend.
He has the eighth most dribbles per 90 minutes at 1.9 and will most likely be a thorn in the side of the Pools defence if he is selected to play.
The twenty-year-old French under 18 international, signed for the Eagles in the summer from Championship side Reading.
In recent weeks he has become an important player for Crystal Palace, in the absence of Zaha, and he is showing bags of talent at a young age- certainly one to look out for.
If you’re not making the trip to Selhurst Park, audio coverage is available via iFollow. Audio coverage starts shortly before kick-off and you can also follow all the action via our social media channels. Alex Chandy and Adam Boyd will be on hand for full match commentary. Purchase your audio pass here: