Bournemouth-Crystal Palace Preview
Roy Hodgson has made a big impact at Crystal Palace.
The new manager has overseen an unbeaten four-game run that has lifted the Eagles off the foot of the Premier League table.
However, despite his team's improvement, Hodgson says he still feels a lot of pressure ahead of Saturday's match with Bournemouth at Selhurst Park.
"I can't imagine, quite frankly, at the moment, that there'll be one of the 23 games remaining where I don't feel an enormous pressure to get a result," Hodgson said. "I hope that transfers to the players, too, because the moment we take our foot even slightly off the gas we're going to be going backwards.
"I hope there will be a day where I can go into a game with no pressure because that'll be the day where we're so far away from the relegation zone that we can't get relegated."
For all of Palace's improvement under Hodgson, they remain a long way from safety - sitting at the top of the drop zone - and in need of putting a big run together during a busy Christmas fixture pile-up that will see them play seven matches between Saturday and the first week of January.
The key to lifting that pressure will be scoring goals, as Hodgson's Eagles (2-4-9) have struggled to find the back of the net of late. Eight goals on the season and, perhaps more disturbing, two scoreless draws on the bounce remain cause for concern, but the south London club do now have Christian Benteke back to full fitness after his injury problems.
Bournemouth (4-3-8) have hit the buffers after a strong start to the campaign. Two points but no wins in three matches has seen the Cherries slip back towards the relegation zone, but this weekend they will take heart from the fact that they haven't lost at Selhurst Park in the two games since reaching the Premier League - picking up four points from those matches.
The Cherries are hopeful that Brad Smith, Rhoys Wiggins and Adam Federici will be available after injury, but centre-back Tyrone Mings remains out with a back injury. However, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe revealed this week that Mings is back in training and closer to a first-team return than thought, providing a timely boost ahead of the busy Christmas period.
"Tyrone is getting closer," Howe said. "He is building up his fitness levels. His back, touch wood, seems much improved so he's on the right lines.
"It will take him a while to build up his fitness but with the amount of games we have coming up, you don't know what is round the corner. He needs to be ready as quickly as we can get him."
Palace have fitness doubts over Wayne Hennessey, Chung-Yong Lee, James Tomkins and Joel Ward, while Connor Wickham and Damien Delaney remained sidelined.
The last meeting between these clubs ended in a 2-0 win for Palace at Bournemouth, with Scott Dann and Christian Benteke scoring the goals.
Updated December 7, 2017