It’s a London derby. It’s a bottom-of-the-table clash. It’s Crystal Palace hosting Fulham in a match where both teams need three points.
After the way Fulham has started the season, it seems every negative result could be Martin Jol’s last game in charge. You can see it every time his team loses, which usually has him holding his head in his hands in the dugout.
Fulham has the talent for a mid-table finish, but its squad is bursting with players who were once great and are now trying to rediscover that form, Giorgos Karagounis, Damien Duff and Dimitar Berbatov among them. Meanwhile, Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz continues to be a bright spot for CONCACAF in the Premier League.
Speaking of the North American confederation, Jamaican defender Adrian Mariappa anchors a Palace back line that has given up eight more goals than it has scored. After a gutsy 1-0 opening-day loss to Tottenham Hotspur, the only bright spot has been a win over the only team lower than Palace in the table: Sunderland.
That’s not exactly esteemed company, but Fulham isn’t far above, sitting outside the relegation zone only on goal difference heading into Monday’s match. Relief in the form of three points would shoot the Cottagers into 14th place, while it would leave the Eagles in the same place but only trailing Norwich by one point.
This game could go one of two ways: either both defenses’ floodgates will open, resulting in a plethora of goals; or their incompetent attacks will cause 90 minutes to crawl by, devoid of any real creativity and flair on either end.
You can watch the game live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra with coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Julián Speroni — Joel Ward, Adrian Mariappa, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey — José Campaña, Mile Jedinak, Stuart O’Keefe — Jason Puncheon, Dwight Gayle, Yannick Bolasie
Bench: Lewis Price — Danny Gabbidon, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Jimmy Kébé, Jerome Thomas, Kevin Phillips, Marouane Chamakh
Fulham (4-4-2): Maarten Stekelenburg — Sascha Riether, Philippe Senderos, Brede Hangeland, Kieran Richardson; Bryan Ruiz, Scott Parker, Steve Sidwell, Pajtim Kasami; Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Bent
Bench: David Stockdale — Elsad Zverotić, Fernando Amorebieta, Giorgos Karagounis, Derek Boateng, Damien Duff, Hugo Rodallega