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Crystal Palace hope for victory over Holloway's former club

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LAST weekend, the focus was on a big rivalry. This weekend, the attention switches towards an individual.

Palace boss Ian Holloway, who spent three-and-a-half successful years at Blackpool before joining the Eagles just over a month ago, is set to welcome his former employers to Selhurst Park tomorrow in what will be two attacking teams looking to put on a good show.

And assistant boss Keith Millen will also be looking forward to seeing a few old faces, after a brief time as head of coaching and development at Bloomfield Road.

Last weekend, Holloway admitted he didn't know too much about the rivalry with the Seagulls, but he'll certainly know what to expect when the Tangerines come to town.

The Eagles and Cardiff City are setting the pace nicely at the top of the Championship at the moment, but they'll be wary that teams as far down as 15th position are in the hunt for a play-off position.

Blackpool have found some form again in recent weeks and star player Thomas Ince seems to be back on the goal trail again after going five games without scoring in September and October.

In fact, he's scored seven goals in his last seven games, four of which have come from the penalty spot.

It will be interesting to see what formation the visitors play, as Ince can operate behind one or two strikers, or down the left flank, but with the way Palace have been defending recently, you'd expect them to be fairly confident of keeping their eighth clean sheet of the season.

The Eagles rearguard of Joel Ward, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney and Jonathan Parr, who have performed very well as a unit, are likely to keep their places, but then so should the rest of the starting line-up if the past few weeks are anything to go by.

Andre Moritz shrugged off a knee complaint to make an appearance from the substitutes' bench last Saturday and he is probably the one who is pushing for a start the most.

In recent games, Aaron Wilbraham has come off the bench and looked good in attack, but is unlikely to replace the man-of-the-moment, Glenn Murray, who will be gunning for his 18th goal of the season against Michael Appleton's side.

Holloway, who claimed Murray is one of the best strikers he's ever worked with (see page 59), revealed that his goal machine was ill before last Saturday's game, so hopefully he'll be 100 per cent tomorrow, which will be a concern for the visitors.

The next three games are against sides currently mid-table and below before a mouth-watering clash away to Cardiff on Boxing Day, but no game in this division is easy as we know.

However, Palace have made it look easy over the past few months and with five games of 2012 left, I think if they can hit the 50 points by the time Wolverhampton Wanderers arrive in SE25 on New Year's Day, that's a great return.

Looking at this weekend's fixtures, play-off hopefuls Watford and Hull City face each other, third-placed Middlesbrough travel to bottom side Peterborough United, Leicester City host Barnsley, while Millwall travel to a rejuvenated Ipswich Town side that have now climbed out of the relegation zone after some better results recently.

You would expect both Leicester and Middlesbrough to take all three points in their games to keep up with the Eagles.

Cardiff play tonight at Blackburn Rovers, and that won't be easy for Malkay Mackay's men, so if they were to slip up, Palace could return to the top of the table with a win come 5pm tomorrow.

Crystal Palace hope for victory over Holloway's former club


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