Crystal Palace V Norwich at Selhurst Park : Match Preview

31 December 2013 05:01
Crystal Palace V Norwich - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Pulis - we're always underdogs

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis believes his side will be underdogs when they host Norwich on New Year's Day - but insists that feeling is nothing new for the Eagles.

A win for Palace would see them move above Norwich, who currently sit 14th in the Barclays Premier League, as Pulis continues to pull the team away from the relegation zone.

The former Stoke boss has overseen two wins out of three league games at Selhurst Park since replacing Ian Holloway in November.

Palace also pushed Manchester City all the way on Saturday and were unfortunate to lose 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Although Pulis is attaching no extra importance to the clash with fellow strugglers Norwich, he still feels his side will be the outsiders in most of their remaining fixtures.

"They are all worth three points," he said when asked if the Norwich game carried more significance in their fight against relegation.

"The Man City game has gone now so the next big game is Norwich. Every game is a cup final for us in the Premier League. We played well at Chelsea and didn't get anything, we played really well at Man City and picked no points up.

"All that we did is brilliant for confidence and everything else and gives the players a lift to go out and compete with top-class players.

"The bottom line is when it comes to Wednesday we are playing another team who have more experience than us in the Premier League and have had more years to bed down. We will be the underdogs again, we are the underdogs most weeks and we just have to accept that."

Following narrow defeats at Chelsea and Man City in recent weeks, a game against the Canaries will be seen by many Palace fans as a game where points are more attainable.

But Pulis is wary of that fact and is still expecting a tough test against Chris Hughton's side.

"That (expectation) is something you have to deal with," he said.

"The players have to deal with that, there is no hiding the fact that we are playing at home and we need to win home games. We are hoping that we get some points."

Pulis took over a Palace team who had just seven points from their opening 12 league games and has secured enough points to take the Eagles out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton hopes his side can banish their nightmare Christmas to keep themselves clear of the relegation scrap in 2014.

The Canaries head to fellow strugglers Palace following successive home defeats to Fulham and Manchester United which have dropped them back to within just three points of the drop zone.

Hughton, though, remains positive for the challenges which await in 2014, with his side having shown signs of improvement in recent weeks and counting themselves unfortunate not to have taken something against the champions, who eventually won 1-0 after Norwich had created several first-half openings.

"It has been a disappointing Christmas," said Hughton.

"Would I prefer to be higher in the table? Yes, I would. We know we are three points from being in a position we don't want to be in and the same applies to the top 10.

"We need points to make life a little bit more comfortable.

"We managed to finish in a good position last season after we had a difficult Christmas.

"We lost all four games this time last year so that is proof this period doesn't define the season, but we would like to have picked up more points."

After once looking set to be down with the Christmas decorations, Palace have hauled themselves out of the bottom three - above Fulham on goal difference - as results improved dramatically following the appointment of Tony Pulis in the wake of Ian Holloway's decision to stand down.

Norwich beat Palace 1-0 on November 30 in what was Pulis' first full match in charge.

Hughton has been impressed by the way the Eagles have responded, but is confident his men can produce the required response at Selhurst Park.

"They have felt the effects of a new manager coming in with different ways, and they have made themselves harder to beat, which we found at Carrow Road," said Hughton.

"Tony is somebody that is used to this division, but it has to be about our philosophy going into the game and we have to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity like we have done in recent games away from home."

Forward Gary Hooper should be fit after he was troubled by a tight muscle in his leg against Manchester United, while centre-half Michael Turner returns from suspension. Midfielder Jonny Howson remains doubtful again following his back problem.

Source: PA