Allardyce out to end Palace hoodoo
Sam Allardyce is aiming to break West Ham's losing streak over Crystal Palace - but is expecting a tough challenge from a side still likely to play the 'Tony Pulis' way.
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Former manager Pulis left Selhurt Park less than 48 hours before the start of the new Barclays Premier League season, with Keith Millen taking charge of Saturday's narrow 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.
With the furore surrounding Malky Mackay's ongoing wranglings with former club Cardiff, the Scot will no longer be filling the vacancy.
That means Millen is once again likely to be in charge of first-team affairs for the visit of West Ham - with the Eagles having won four of the last six meetings and remaining unbeaten in the fixture since 2003.
But Allardyce, who is struggling with early season injuries and suspension to his defensive line, is hopeful of overcoming their recent south London hoodoo.
"I think they have some better players than last season but they very much stick to the same type of structural organisation," he said.
"We didn't beat them last year and it will be just as difficult, if not more so, with the players they've brought in.
"The new players have lots of Premier League experience and from that point of view we'll have a tough job.
"There's still lots of excitement around the ground and the stadium, the players know their position now, they know what their job is. At the start of last season they found it difficult to cope with the league, but Tony Pulis came in and structured it accordingly.
"It'll be a tight game. I don't think there'll be many goals in it, but hopefully it'll be as entertaining as it possibly can be."
The Hammers slipped to two 1-0 defeats at the hands of Palace last season and went on to finish two places lower than the Eagles' final position of 11th.
With debutants Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate impressing in the last-gasp defeat to Tottenham last week, Allardyce could hand either Enner Valencia or Diafra Sakho their first starts for the club on Saturday.
But, after bolstering his attacking options over the summer, it is in defence where Allardyce will be weakened - with James Collins banned and James Tomkins, Joey O'Brien and Carl Jenkinson unlikely to be completely match fit.
Republic of Ireland international O'Brien is hoping the managerial uncertainty can see the Hammers turn the tables this season.
"Palace did a number on us twice last year, so we want to get one back," he said.
"In that first year in the Premier League you might wonder what to expect from them, but now everyone knows their players and the situations they create. We know what to expect this year.
"I don't know whether the managerial situation there will affect the players. I watched their game against Arsenal last week and they played really well - they were unlucky to lose the game, so it's a home game for them, their fans will be up for the first home game of the season and we'll have to play at our best."