20.00 BST, Monday 30th October, Estadio Gran Canaria (Las Palmas, Spain)
Las Palmas have struggled at the beginning of this season after two very solid mid-table finishes in their first two seasons since promotion to La Liga. A run of five defeats has left them languishing in 18th place with only 6 points to their name. They will hope to take inspiration from a 4-1 away victory in the cup midweek against Deportivo La Coruna who they meet again on Monday night.
A 2-1 home defeat against Girona signalled the end for Pepe Mel who only managed to guide his side to two wins in their first nine games or the season. That only one of those first nine fixtures have been against the current top six is real concern. Caretaker manager Cristobal Parralo must ensure that chances are taken against the likes of Las Palmas before a run of tougher fixtures begins.
Last Time Out
Villarreal 4-0 Las Palmas (La Liga)
Pako Ayestaran’s side were taken apart by a compelling Villarreal attack. Having held out for the first half, a strike from the impressive Cedric Bakambu gave the home side the lead. A second Villarreal goal from Mario Gaspar was quickly followed by Ximo Navarro conspiring to knock the ball past his own keeper for a third. Nicola Sansone’s fine left-footed finish in the dying moments added emphasis to a miserable defeat for Las Palmas.
Deportivo La Coruna 1-2 Girona (La Liga)
In what proved to be the last game of Pepe Mel’s reign, Branquiazuis suffered defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Girona. Early on, Raul Albentosa conceded a penalty which was put away by Girona’s Aday Benitez to give the Catalans a surprise lead. Soon after half time, Lucas Perez took his own penalty chance after a foul from Jonas Ramalho. Deportivo were not particularly poor but were ultimately punished for not taking their chances by a 71st-minute winner from Nigerian Olarenwaju Kayode.
Las Palmas Lineup
The Canarians will be without young Croatian midfielder Alen Halilovic who will not return from his malleolar injury until late December. Right winger Oussama Tannane will also remain unavailable for selection as he recovers from his abductor tear.
Deportivo La Coruna Lineup
Caretaker Cristobal Parralo does not have too many injury or suspension concerns to deal with going into this game. Experienced goalkeeper Ruben Martinez remains out with a finger injury whilst winger Carles Gill will continue to miss out through a groin injury.
Key Battle: Alberto Aquilani (Las Palmas) vs Lucas Perez (Deportivo La Coruna)
Coming towards the end of a career including spells at European giants including Roma, Liverpool, Juventus and Milan, Aquilani, 33, must use all of his experience to help inspire his present team out of their current rut. Sat in the centre of midfield, he needs to do more to protect a fragile Las Palmas defence. If he can assert some control in midfield then the like of Jonathan Viera, Vitolo and Jonathan Calleri will be allowed to flourish.
One of the men that Aquilani must protect his defence from is Lucas Perez, 29, the pacey winger on loan from Arsenal. Since being given a place in the starting lineup, Perez has scored 2 goals in his last 3 games and will have to show similar clinical finishing if his side are going to come away with the points they so desperately need to kick-start their season.
Can Las Palmas stop leaking goals?
No other side in La Liga has conceded as many as the 22 that have been scored past Las Palmas. Leeching 12 goals in only their last 3 games, they must deal with serious problems at the back if they are to have any hope of survival. Monday’s likely pairing of Pedro Bigas and Uruguayan Mauricio Lemos must begin to start putting in much more focused performances.
Can Cristobal turn around Deportivo’s fortunes?
Stepping up from the B side to take the main seat in the senior dugout, former Spanish international Cristobal Parralo, 50, has been appointed as caretaker until the end of the season. If they are to pull away from the drop-zone then they will have to turn things around quickly before a very difficult run up to Christmas including games against Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Leganes and Barcelona. It is important that Deportivo take as many points as possible against the sides lower down in the table. A win on Monday night would be a good place to start.
Prediction: Las Palmas 1-2 Deportivo La Coruna
Las Palmas are in defensive disarray but will hope to repeat the heroics of their changed side in their 4-1 win against Deportivo on Thursday night in the Copa Del Rey. They have enough to beat the visitors but may come up against a side inspired by a managerial revamp.
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