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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Big Match Preview

Crystal Palace vs. Sheffield United
Saturday March 6, 15:00, Selhurst Park

Relegation-threatened Crystal Palace meet play-off chasing Sheffield United this weekend as both sides seek three precious Championship points.

After this week's events too, the clash at Selhurst Park now pits together two clubs formerly managed by Neil Warnock.

The experienced boss swapped the financial turmoil at Palace for the wealth of QPR - and was replaced by former Rs boss Paul Hart.

The Eagles are precariously placed just above the drop zone following their 10 point deduction for entering administration. However, but for that deduction, they'd be looking for a place in the top six themselves.

Despite their false position in the table though, Palace go into the game without a win in their last four matches and in need of points to move them away from the bottom three.

The inspiration behind most of their good play this term has come from former Newcastle man Darren Ambrose. The talented midfielder has been in great form and is the club's top scorer with 17 goals.

His delivery from set-plays also makes the Londoners dangerous from dead-ball situations with striker Alan Lee often the target. Palace will also look for inspiration from the back from their impressive keeper Julian Speroni.

He's likely to be called upon to deal with the threat posed by Saturday's visitors. Sheffield United, losers in the play-off final last May, are once again in the mix for the end of season lottery.

Blades boss Kevin Blackwell is eyeing up another shot at the play-offs

The Blades lie just a point and a place outside the top six, but have found it difficult to string together a consistent run of form.

Indeed, not since they won back-to-back away fixtures at the beginning of December have Kevin Blackwell's men returned to the Steel City with three points.

He does possess one of the strongest and most experienced squads in the division though, including an array of attacking options.

Big man Darius Henderson is the team's top scorer with 12 goals and he's joined by the likes of Jamie Ward, Richard Cresswell, Henri Camara, and Ched Evans.

It's a list that would be the envy of most other Championship clubs, and perhaps emphasises that United have underperformed to date this season.

That can change with a first away win in four months at the weekend though. Palace will miss the departure of Warnock and, even with a new boss in Hart in place, are there for the taking.

It probably won't be the prettiest of affairs, but the points are what counts and the visitors should take all three of them.

Nobes' Prediction: Crystal Palace 0 Sheffield United 1

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