What a strange situation at Selhurst Park last season where the exciting young possession based manager Patrick Vieira was shown the door following a poor run of form and Roy Hodgson was tempted out of retirement and suddenly unleashed an exciting attacking style that lifted Palace to mid-table comfort? Can they repeat and be a boring mid-table club? Let’s check out the odds…
Last Season: 11th
Top Scorer: Eberechi Eze (10)
Transfers In: Matheus Franca, Flamengo, £20m, Jefferson Lerma – Bournemouth, Free
Transfers Out: Wilfried Zaha – Galatasaray, Free
First game: Sheffield United (A)
The traders at Betfred clearly think along the same lines as I do in that Crystal Palace will not be in relegation trouble. They are priced up as the ninth team in that market, which indicates an 12th place finish and that is exactly where the Eagles ended up.
Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze have both shown themselves to be two of the most exciting attacking talents in the Premier League. The former is just 21 years-old and became the first Crystal Palace player in the Premier League era to record double-digit assists in a single top flight season. With Hodgson’s new style to let his attacking players run free and express themselves, as an aside, Olise is a fantasy player everyone should have on their radar. It should be noted however that there are reports that both Chelsea and Manchester City circling so who knows if he’s still part of this squad when the transfer window closes?
As for Eze, his performances last season saw him called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad. He notched up ten goals, which is double compared to what he’d done in the previous two seasons. They both have immense quality and will score and create many chances for a Crystal Palace side that will be on the over side of 2.5 goals more often than not if they carry on playing the way they have under Hodgson.
One player who won’t be available is Wilfried Zaha with the Ivory Coast international turning down a reported £200k-a-week deal to stay with the London club to try something new and joining Turkish Super Lig side Galatasaray. The 30 year-old was one of the most fouled players in the top flight and had been Palace’s best player for years. Before the emergence of Olise, losing a player like him would be really tough to overcome but Palace have talent to continue to thrive.
Brazilian Matheus Franca has also joined to add to their attacking options. At just 19, it would be tough to expect him to hit the ground running, so expect him to be slowly introduced into the first team squad.
Both Joachim Andersen and Marc Guéhi are top quality centre-backs who formed a strong relationship in the final months of last season. Both have been linked with moves away from Hodgson’s side but if they are able to hold on to both of them, things should look rosy for the Eagles and whilst they might not soar high, they should not be concerned with the drop. I’m not expecting any of their strikers to trouble in the Golden Boot market however!