independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Home form key to survival - Pulis

Tony Pulis says his players should 'enjoy the challenge' of facing Chelsea

Manager Tony Pulis believes it is Crystal Palace's performances at home which will determine their Barclays Premier League fate and not games such as Saturday's trip to title challengers Chelsea.

The Eagles have won two of their three matches since Pulis' appointment, but the Stamford Bridge contest is the sternest test so far.

"I've come in, the players have responded and it's been a great few results and we're really, really pleased," Pulis said.

"But the season is not about three or four games - it's about the 23 that are left for us.

"Our season will be determined by our home form, from now until the end of the season.

"We've just got to make sure Selhurst Park is rocking like it has been the couple of times I've been manager there and that the players give everything they've got."

Pulis believes Palace can put the leading clubs under pressure at home, but it is more of a challenge away.

"On any given day, if Chelsea play to their maximum, they're a little bit ahead of us," added Pulis, whose former club Stoke beat Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium last weekend.

"The one thing everybody's really surprised about is that they haven't scored as many goals as maybe they should have.

"But they've played some fantastic football and they've got some top, top players.

"I think they're in a fantastic position and they're still fighting on four fronts.

"At Selhurst Park you can make it difficult and you can make it more of a competitive match. When you go away, it can be, in my experience, very, very difficult.

"The pressure is off us; I don't think anybody expects us to go to Chelsea and win the game.

"The important thing is the players go there and do their best, they enjoy the game and they enjoy the challenge."

Full-back Dean Moxey, one of three ever-presents for the Eagles this season, is doubtful for the Chelsea clash with a hamstring injury, but winger Yannick Bolasie is available following suspension.

A number of long-term injured are nearing returns as Pulis assesses his squad prior to the opening of the winter transfer window.

Before engaging in transfer dealings, Pulis is focused on matches with Chelsea, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Norwich on New Year's Day.

"It's a tough run," Pulis said.

"We know it's a tough run and we'll find out more about the group and about the squad. Then that's the best time to assess where we're going to go.

"Everybody understands and recognises it's going to be a real tough season and a tough call (to survive).

"The most important thing is we deal with the Christmas programme the best we can and it's then sitting down with Steve and the rest of directors and see what we can do."

Pulis likes the festive schedule, but wishes the fixtures involved more local matches.

He added: "I'm an advocate for games over Christmas. I'm a traditionalist.

"I'd love to see local derbies. It's absolutely ridiculous that we're asking Crystal Palace supporters to pay to go up to Birmingham and then come back down and pay to go up to Manchester.

"You can't tell me they don't arrange certain fixtures at certain times of year to suit television companies."

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