With eight Premier League games remaining this season, it is imperative that we view each game as a winnable challenge.
Before we focus attention on the crucial matches against Arsenal and Leicester, it is important that we unleash our most offensive line-up in order to secure a win against a weakened Crystal Palace side, who have drawn two and lost eight of their previous 10 league games.
While we are still serious about securing a top four finish, Crystal Palace have their own concerns about a possible relegation after such a fine start to the season. Although their next game is against a struggling Norwich, they are equally keen to secure a win against us, in order to reduce their relegation fears.
Alan Pardew is an astute manager, and we can be assured that he has closely scrutinised every facet of our play in order to save the bacon.
Slaven Bilic will be aware that Dimitri Payet will be heavily scrutinised, and hence will allow him a license to roam into positions where he is likely to be most effective.
Expect Payet to look for a centrally positioned Diafra Sakho or Michail Antonio racing into goal scoring positions from the right side. Sakho can also act as a target for goal scoring lay-offs for Payet and Antonio, in addition to the attacking-minded midfield trio of Lanzini, Kouyate, and Noble.
When available, expect to see Antonio and Cresswell attacking from wide, and in doing so, drawing out the Palace defenders to allow holes for Sakho, Payet, and Lanzini to pounce on. Reid and Ogbonna would do well to advance closer to Mark Noble, in order to assemble a holding force against any unanticipated Palace counter-attacks.
Expect Enner Valencia to play an important role, after an impressive display for Ecuador recently. While he can play as a winger or a striker, I feel he may be a more effective goal scorer from a centre-forward position. His goal against Paraguay was a reflection of stability on the ball, followed by a finish which required accuracy more than shot power.
While Winston Reid will be welcomed back to join Angelo Ogbonna, we are fortunate enough to have James Collins and/or James Tomkins to maintain the momentum should our Kiwi stalwart fade late in the game.
Until his recent injury, Collins has been an inspiration at the centre of the defence. In order to rotate players for the all important Arsenal and Leicester clashes, Bilic has the luxury to call on Pedro Obiang and Alex Song for midfield duties, and Victor Moses as an obvious rotation for Michail Antonio, who knows nothing less than a 100% output.
Bilic will be well aware of preserving Antonio for the EPL and/or FA Cup games, so we may be treated to some exciting running from Moses.
For once, we are blessed with a near-perfectly fit squad; I have no doubt that over the international break, Emmanuel Emenike and Andy Carroll have been working hard on fitness and technique. Bilic can almost choose as he likes, and there is no better time than the present for Emenike and Carroll to show their talents.
For the visit of Palace I am favouring a more aggressive 4-3-3 approach for this game, and probably the remaining games left.
I sense that a greater chance of winning games, may work with this formation. Draws are essentially useless to us if we harbour ideas of a top four finish.
If we are ever going to score early goals, now is the time. Our recent form has been nothing short of inspirational; we have a fit squad of very willing lads, and plenty of reserve to keep up the momentum.
A 3-1 win? I’d take that!