Norwich and Palace can punish Baggies and Bluebirds
Cardiff City have won each of their last three home games with Crystal Palace in all competitions. Tony Pulis’ Eagles are soaring five points above the bottom three coming into this trip to the Welsh capital thanks to a famous result against Chelsea.
It is the Bluebirds, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that start as 13/10 favourites for victory here, however. Palace taking all three points back to Selhurst Park is a 9/4 chance, with a draw at 11/5.
Players turning out against their former clubs is a major subplot to this quintessential six-pointer. Mark Hudson, a former Eagles captain, may be sidelined for hosts Cardiff, but there is a more recent south London favourite in their side.
Wilfried Zaha made little impression on David Moyes at Manchester United, despite having the immortal tag of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing. If he plays down the right against Palace, he will be facing a wrong-footed left back in Joel Ward.
Should Solskjaer give him instructions to go round the outside, Zaha has the potential to hurt Palace here. Back him at 10/3 to find the target anytime.
The Eagles have two former Bluebirds men in their ranks to boot. Wales midfielder Joe Ledley (7/2) and forward Cameron Jerome (15/8) will want to give the Cardiff crowd a timely reminder of what they once had.
Pulis and Palace beware Iceland international Aron Gunnarsson. He has netted on each of his last two appearances against this team. Odds of 7/1 say the deep-lying midfielder can do so again.
Another surprise Bluebirds scoring source has been the supplementary set piece goals of skipper Steven Caulker. He is a 13/2 shot to add to his five Premier League strikes – only Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell have netted more.
Eagles defender Damien Delaney is something of a good luck charm, though, after keeping seven career clean sheets against Cardiff. Palace have secured shut-outs at fellow strugglers Sunderland and West Brom, so odds of 9/4 another here are attractive.
Thought now turn to Pepe Mel’s Baggies, who travel to Norwich City knowing they won on three of their last four league visits. The Canaries are in fine form at Carrow Road in this calendar year, as they are unbeaten on their own turf.
Norwich are also 13/10 for a win here, and have been victorious on their last two Premier League meetings with Albion. West Brom are 9/4 for three points in East Anglia, with the draw priced at 11/5.
Mel’s men share common ground with the Canaries and Palace, in that they have beaten just two teams on the road all season. Back Norwich on their home form for a win to nil at 3/1.
Canaries winger Robert Snodgrass is in fine form, with two in his last three league outings, and he a couple in as many games against the Baggies. Odds of 11/4 say he will score anytime here.
Sweden striker Johan Elmander has never lost to Albion in four career appearances against them (three from Bolton Wanderers and the reverse fixture this season). Back the grafting on-loan Galatasaray frontman to add to his two strikes when paired with this opposition at 15/8.
West Brom defender Gareth McAuley will want to avoid adding to his impressive own goal haul of four against Norwich. Veteran Hungary skipper Zoltan Gera has two in his last two appearances against the East Anglia outfit, so odds of 10/3 on him finding the net anytime look a decent shout.
Elsewhere in the bottom half, Hull (8/5) host Swansea (7/4), and are favourites to win because they are unbeaten when south Wales sides come to the Humber since 1998. Wing back Ahmed Elmohamady has never lost to the Swans, so could be a talisman for the Tigers. Back Nikica Jelavic, who has one in two against them, to score anytime at 6/4.
Basement club Fulham face Aston Villa (even-money favourites), have lost only one of the last seven fixtures with the West Midlands outfit. Felix Magath’s men are 13/5 outsiders for victory here. A draw looks your best here, however, at 5/2 as Villa boss Paul Lambert has lost top-scorer Christian Benteke on an achilles injury.