Alan Pardew wary of West Ham threat
Alan Pardew is wary of the counter-attacking threat posed by West Ham as he welcomes his former club to Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The Crystal Palace boss has guided the Eagles to fourth in the Premier League and they sit just three points behind leaders Manchester City.
West Ham, too, have started the campaign well under Slaven Bilic and are a point adrift of their hosts for this weekend.
Pardew won promotion into the top flight during his time in charge of the Hammers and also took them to the FA Cup final in 2006 - losing on penalties to Liverpool.
Now he is happy in south London and, following the 2-0 win over West Brom before the international break, Palace sit in the top four - but the 54-year-old expects a tough test from Bilic's men, who boast away wins at Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool so far this season.
"They're very good on the counter," he said of West Ham.
"I expect us to get a grasp of the game like we did against West Brom and dictate proceedings but that's not going to stop West Ham from winning the game. We need to be organised in our possession otherwise they will counter us really quickly and we'll find ourselves in the game.
"West Ham have a bigger and stronger squad than us. But if we can stay clear of injuries and keep this group together, we can compete with them and that's what we've got to hope to do."
While City, Arsenal and Manchester United occupy the top three spots, Pardew and his players can lay claim to the current best-of-the-rest tag - as the Englishman prepares to host another in-form side.
"It is a top-of-the-table encounter," he added.
"That is good for two teams who weren't predicted to be there at this stage of the season. We're coming off a good performance and West Ham will be aware of that. I am sure they will be looking to upset our rhythm and what we do really well."
Going into the international break in good form it would be usual for Pardew to be disappointed to have lost a number of players to their respective nations.
But this time the gap between club fixtures has helped the Eagles get a number of players off their injury list and back into contention for the London derby.
"It's good news for us," Pardew said of his available squad.
"Damian Delaney is back training, Mile Jedinak is back training, Jordon Mutch is back training and so is Chungy (Lee Chung-yong. The only ones missing for this weekend are Connor Wickham, Marouane Chamakh and Joel Ward."