Crystal Palace v Norwich City: Pardew confident despite 2016 woes
Alan Pardew is under no illusions as to the importance of Crystal Palace's Premier League clash against relegation rivals Norwich City at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Palace have not won in the league since December 19 - at which point they were flying high in sixth position - and have dramatically slumped into the scrap at the bottom of the table.
Indeed, victory for Norwich would bring Alex Neil's men level with Palace on 34 points, just above the bottom three.
Palace, whose victory in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season was their first over Norwich in their nine Premier League meetings, are the only team in the top four tiers who are yet to win a game in 2016.
Pardew's strugglers have lost six consecutive home games and could become the first top-flight team since Wolves in 2012 to lose seven. It is not the best time to face Norwich either - they have won their last two games against West Brom and Newcastle United after picking up only two points from their previous 10.
"It's a key game because it's against a team who are only three points behind us and they have won two games," said Pardew.
"The home form has been a disappointment for me. We want to keep our home fans happy. Too many times we have come off that pitch after a last-minute goal or an individual mistake.
"Our fans are going to be really up for this game. Those I have bumped into during the week are really fired up. It's going to be loud and intimidating, so Norwich will have to deal with it.
"Norwich's form doesn't concern me but it's more difficult because of the confidence they will have gained from those two wins. They played well against Newcastle but it could have been a loss.
"I expect it to be a tight, tight game. In the last two games we have been substantially better. The stats have been better, our performances better and we are ready.
"Norwich are a confident team and we need to take it to them. We are confident."
Norwich midfielder Gary O'Neil revealed he is shocked to have the opportunity to drag Palace right into the relegation scrap and feels such an outcome is a bonus.
"I would have classed Palace as out of it three weeks ago," he said to the Eastern Daily Press.
"In my head I was thinking we would need to finish top of this league with the two North East clubs. I thought it was purely us three once we lost at Swansea - two down from the three.
"So the fact Palace are still in there a little doesn't really make any difference. Obviously they are there to chase and if we go there and win, it drags them right into it.
"We go there in good spirits on the form we are in, but it will be a tough game. They have got good players and I'm surprised they are where they are, with how they started and with the attacking, wide players they have got and Yohan Cabaye."
Palace's main injury doubt is Emmanuel Adebayor (knock), who was "not fully comfortable" in training on Thursday. Norwich will check on Russell Martin (knock), but Alex Tettey (ankle) is out for the season.
Should Norwich better the result of Aston Villa, who host AFC Bournemouth, the bottom club's relegation to the Championship for next season will be confirmed.
Key Opta stats:
- Norwich City are winless in 14 away league games against Crystal Palace, last winning away to them in May 1996 (D5 L9).
- The Eagles have now gone 14 league games without tasting victory; they last went 15 matches without a league win in March 1998.
- A league-high nine of Crystal Palace's Premier League goals this season have been scored by defenders.
- Five of Palace's nine league goals from defenders have come courtesy of Scott Dann, a league-high figure for a defender this season.