West Ham face Crystal Palace away on Boxing Day.

The Hammers will be buoyed by their win over Southampton last weekend.

But they could have a real problem against the Eagles.

Ryan Fredericks is suspended for the Eagles clash, with Pablo Zabaleta set to step in for the former Fulham man.

West Ham United v Sheffield United - Premier League

Pablo Zabaleta (Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

And with Wilfried Zaha currently on fire for Palace, that is a really scary prospect for the Hammers.

Fredericks hasn’t necessarily been great for West Ham this season, but one thing that the 27-year-old does have is pace. And loads of it.


And with the slow and ageing Zabaleta set to line up against Zaha, the Hammers could be in for a really tough afternoon on Boxing Day.

The Argentine is a solid defender, and does have plenty of experience, so he should be able to use that to his advantage when facing the Ivory Coast international.

Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League

Wilfried Zaha (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Even so, Roy Hodgson will surely be instructing Zaha to isolate Zabaleta as much as he can.

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini needs to realise this, and advise whoever is playing on the right flank to drop back and double up on the Ivorian.

The game against Palace is a must-win for Pellegrini and the Hammers. But they seem to be behind the eight ball already.

Hopefully Zaha will not have his best game, and Zabaleta manages to deal with the pacy winger without incident.

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