Cardiff V Crystal Palace at Cardiff City Stadium : Match Preview

04 April 2014 03:31
Cardiff V Crystal Palace - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Solskjaer backs Zaha to keep focus

Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes loan signing Wilfried Zaha will not be ruffled by speculation linking him with a return to his former club Crystal Palace.

Cardiff host Palace on Saturday in a Barclays Premier League relegation battle, and Solskjaer has questioned the timing of this week's reports regarding Zaha, who moved to Wales from Manchester United in January.

"We have had Wilfried coming on (against West Brom last Saturday), making an impact and - surprise, surprise - Palace want to sign him this week," Solskjaer said.

"I would like to sign him if we can. Wilf is a good player, but I don't think he is being drawn into this situation where it is suddenly brought up that his former club want to sign him just as he faced his old team. Palace is his past."

Cardiff are currently three points adrift of 17th place and safety with just six games left.

Defeat against Palace, currently 16th, would effectively leave them with one foot in the Championship, although they are fresh from salvaging a point at West Brom six days ago through an injury-time equaliser.

"We see it as an opportunity for us to claw our way back in on Palace," Solskjaer added.

"I don't go into a game worrying - there are enough worries in life - but, of course, it is an important game.

"We are running out of games. We have to go out there and give it a go and do what we can to get those three points.

"It's important to go into the game with the right temperament and the right excitement and anxiety levels. A cup final is a chance to win something, and this, for us, is a chance to get back into it.

"The end of the game last week I hope was a turning point. It was key. To be down like that and come back gave us a massive boost.

"This is the biggest (game) for me as Cardiff manager. I always prepare the same. This is the main game now. It's very exciting."

Cardiff have scored three goals in each of their last two home games - beating Fulham before losing against title-chasing Liverpool - but Solskjaer knows Saturday's clash is likely to be a cagey affair, especially given the high stakes.

"If we score three against Palace I will be very surprised," he said. "They defend with their lives and put their bodies on the line. Palace won't give us any easy ride anywhere on the pitch."

Solskjaer, meanwhile, confirmed that Craig Noone is fit for selection this weekend after missing the last three games because of a groin injury.

Palace boss Pulis has fond memories of watching Cardiff as a child but will not go easy on the Bluebirds this weekend.

Palace are five points clear of their hosts after a 1-0 win over Chelsea and will all but seal a second successive Barclays Premier League campaign if they follow that up with a victory in the Welsh capital.

Pulis, who replaced Ian Holloway at Selhurst Park in November, has taken the Eagles from the bottom of the league and now looks like keeping them afloat while one of his boyhood favourites continue to tread water.

"I watched Cardiff when I was a young boy and I also watched Newport when I could," he said.

"If I didn't have games on a Saturday, if I wasn't playing for the YMCA then we would jump on a train and if we could we would get to Cardiff.

"That was when (John) Toshack was playing, (Ian) Gibson was in midfield, and they had a very, very good team.

"My dad took me to watch Cardiff on a Tuesday or a Wednesday evening when they played Real Madrid when there were 50,000 people in the stadium."

With Pulis' long-standing connection to the club, the 56-year-old does not want to see Cardiff drop out of the top flight but insists there will be no favours from his players.

When asked if he wanted to see Cardiff go down, Pulis said: "Not at all.

"It was wonderful to see Cardiff get promoted to join Swansea, I was disappointed that Wrexham didn't get promoted into the league but it was lovely to see my home-town club (Newport County) get promoted back.

"Last year was a really good year for Welsh football and I want it to thrive, it is important for the nation that sport in Wales thrives.

"It is a fantastic club and a great city. I hope, along with us, that they stay in the Premier League but there will be nothing given from us on Saturday."

Source: PA