Crystal Palace must show Resilience in Face of Sheffield United Threat

Written by Robert Sutherland

Wilf stare

Crystal Palace travel to Sheffield on Sunday well versed in the dangers of playing a newly-promoted side, and with the visit to a tactically-astute United side, that risk is heightened.

While last season’s trip to Craven Cottage offered a potential banana skin for Palace to slip up on, it was ultimately a match against a Fulham side so freshly constructed that few would have recognised it as being the one that got promoted. It offered Palace an opportunity against a team that didn't really know each other, and as that game wore on, it showed.
The Blades are a different prospect, however. Despite making ten signings this summer, Chris Wilder has put a lot of faith in the side that won them promotion. Of the line-up that started at Bournemouth on the opening day, only Callum Robinson, a summer signing from Preston North End, was a new addition. As the season goes on it's likely that Wilder will gradually integrate his new recruits into the team.
With United's focus on patient build-up play and innovative positioning (overlapping centre-backs, anyone?), there's a risk that Palace could be caught out by their opponents.
Last weekend's opponents Bournemouth had the better of that game but still struggled to break United down; Wilder however admitted that his side were a little more cautious tactically. The home game, with Bramall Lane's vociferous backing, is likely to be a slightly different prospect. 
Palace are likely to line up with a similar team to the one that started against Everton. While the new additions will be champing at the bit to be included, the most likely change would be the return of Wilfried Zaha to the side. It has however been suggested that Gary Cahill could make his first team debut for the club, in part because of how he has impressed in training. 
Hodgson is the kind of manager that, unless something goes catastrophically wrong, he won't make drastic changes to the line-up. He also tends to work on his line-ups in sets of three fixtures, knowing who he'll play and how he'll instruct them three games in advance. It’s likely that we’ll see the usual 4-4-2 formation with Max Meyer and Andros Townsend flanking Christian Benteke and Zaha in attack. If Cahill does make his debut, it should be in place of Scott Dann.
Palace’s away form last season helped the club avoid relegation. A repeat of that form this season will be dependent on the Eagles defeating sides like Sheffield United. Palace will have to be at their best to do that.