Tom Ince’s performance will be closely scrutinised when Crystal Palace try to further compound a miserable week for Swansea City on Sunday.
The talented Blackpool winger was a confirmed transfer target for Swansea during the January transfer window before eventually opting to move to Selhurst Park on loan for the rest of the season.
Ince has wasted little time in making an impact, scoring on his debut in a 3-1 win against West Brom, and has suggested that Swansea will struggle to deal with Palace’s attacking players this weekend, comments that could see him singled out for a hostile reception at the Liberty Stadium.
“Swansea play nice football,” Ince told The South London Press this week. “But will they be able to handle the threat we give them with Glenn Murray, Marouane Chamakh, Cameron Jerome, Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon and myself?”
A look at the Premier League table suggests that Palace may not be as prolific going forward as Ince believes is the case.
In fact, no team in the top flight have scored fewer goals in 2013-14 than Palace, who have netted 18 times in 26 games. Nevertheless, the London club sit just two points behind Swansea thanks to the galvanising influence of Tony Pulis.
Pulis has won seven of his 16 games in all competitions since taking charge, a run that has propelled Palace out of the relegation zone.
The Welshman’s next immediate concern is addressing the team’s inconsistent streak as Palace have won and then lost the following game over an eight-match streak that stretches back to the start of January.
Swansea welcome Palace with coach Garry Monk desperate for a response following UEFA Europa League heartache at Napoli on Thursday.
Last season’s League Cup winners came agonisingly close to progressing to the last 16 of the tournament, only for two goals in the final 12 minutes at the Stadio San Paolo to leave Monk’s side deflated as Napoli won 3-1 on aggregate.
That setback in Italy followed a 4-3 defeat against Liverpool last Sunday when Swansea twice battled back to draw level at 2-2 and then 3-3 before being undone by Jordan Henderson’s late goal at Anfield.
A five-game winless streak has proved to be an eye-opener into the topsy-turvy nature of management for Monk.
Swansea can at least take heart from the fact that they have won the last four encounters between the two sides.
Nathan Dyer picked up a heel injury against Napoli, but should be fit to face Palace, for whom Jerome Thomas (back) is available again.
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