A true rival or not? Well, despite Alan Curbishley’s best efforts to stoke up some kind of tension between the two clubs, most Palace fans remain somewhat ambivalent towards close-neighbours Charlton.
However, the atmosphere is sure to be red-hot at Selhurst on Sunday as the three points are so vital to the Eagles.
Iain Dowie will certainly see the clash as one of the ‘must-win’ games of the season, since anything other than victory could easily see Palace sucked back into the bottom three.
We’ve been lucky with injuries so far this season, though, and that luck looks set to continue into this weekend’s game. Unfortunately, Nicola Ventola will now be out until the New Year but with just him and Gonzalo Sorondo attracting the attention of the physio, Dowie has no new major injuries to contend with
Aki Riihilahti is still carrying an Achilles knock, but is expected to once again play through it in typical Aki style. Ben Watson is to have a late fitness test, but should make the starting team.
If Watson doesn’t come through, Dowie faces an interesting conundrum – who to replace him with? The subs bench in recent games has been without a recognised central midfielder, and options in that area are starting to look thin.
After a couple of subsitute appearances, Tom Soares appears to be set for a few more games in the reserves, and Shaun Derry and Tommy Black both already have one foot out the door. Perhaps Dowie would opt to go for a more attacking option, with Aki pushing up into the middle and Freedman starting just behind AJ?
Or, considering their performace at the Valley in October, maybe the boss should just give the reserve team another run-out!
Whatever the decision, Dowie will be desperate to capitalise on a Charlton defence that has seen them concede a staggering 19 goals in seven league games away from home.
Athletic’s defence could be further weakened due to the probable absence of former Palace hero Hermann Hreidarsson. Chris Perry and Mark Fish are also likely to miss out.
Probable Palace XI
Boyce Hall Popovic Granville
Routledge Watson Hughes Riihilahti Kolkka