Crystal Palace will be looking to steer clear of the relegation dogfight and secure themselves another comfortable mid-table finish in this campaign. In the last two seasons, the Eagles have started poorly before picking up in the second half of the season and they finished very strongly last term, picking up four wins in their final six games in the Premier League, including a famous away victory over London rivals Arsenal.
Much of the summer talk surrounding the Selhurst Park outfit has been regarding the future of star player Wilfried Zaha, who has been reportedly courted by the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Boss Roy Hodgson stands firm on his future at the club and will be hoping he can add a few more players to the ranks to kick on and battle the likes of Wolves and Everton for a top half spot.
In Roy Hodgson’s first full season in charge of his boyhood club, the former England and Liverpool boss did a fine job of keeping the teams heads above the relegation scrap that played out beneath them. It was a slow start for the Eagles, with just two wins coming from their first 13 league outings, but after the mess they had been in at that stage the season before, panic never really began to set in that this would be an uncomfortable season at Selhurst Park.
Instead, with a few key players returning from lengthy injuries, the Eagles really picked up in the second half of the campaign and earned some famous results on their way to rising up the table to earn a reasonable 12th-placed finish. Although Wilfried Zaha was, as expected, the stand-out player in the squad once again, Aaron Wan-Bissaka also emerged as a top class talent – but has since been sold to Manchester United.
After such an all-encompassing career that has included spells in countries as varied as Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and the UAE, it’s very fitting that in what is likely to be his last professional management job, Roy Hodgson has returned to the club at which he started his playing career way back in 1963. As a boyhood fan of the club, there’s no doubt that he’s as motivated as anyone to continue the progression and consolidation of Palace as a top tier club, a job he will be desperate to complete before enjoying a well-earned retirement.
Having been none too popular with English football fans following his ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, Hodgson has rebuilt his reputation somewhat at Palace, playing to the strengths of their quick, skilful attacking stars whilst remaining tight at the back and giving opportunities to youngsters in the face of injury crises over the last few seasons. Will he oversee another productive campaign this time around?
The New Arrivals
At the time of writing, only one new arrival has been confirmed at Selhurst Park this summer. 31 year old goalkeeper Stephen Henderson arrives from Nottingham Forest having spent part of last year on loan at League One outfit Wycombe Wanderers, so we suspect he won’t be involved in the first-team picture too much, but more signings are sure to be made as the new season draws closer.
Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt (PA Images)
With Aaron Wan-Bissaka having left for Manchester United, the Eagles have money to spend on improving their squad this term and first and foremost they may be looking for a replacement right-back. Lille’s Adama Soumaoro and Arsenal’s Carl Jenkinson have been linked as defensive reinforcements while temperamental Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos has also been touted as a potential new signing.
The Key Man
Few teams in the Premier League have a stand-out star like Crystal Palace do in Wilfried Zaha. Whilst the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal are circling, Zaha will be preparing professionally for another season at Selhurst Park if the move doesn’t come off and with the Eagles still struggling to find an out-and-out striker given the lack of goals from the likes of Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth, he has to carry the creative and goalscoring burdens together.
But Zaha certainly has the ability to do exactly this. He was second in terms of both goals and assists for the Eagles in the Premier League last term, with 10 and five respectively, and it’s testament to just how much other teams target the Ivory Coast international that he was the second most-fouled player in the whole league last year behind only Eden Hazard. If he remains in Selhurst, he will undoubtedly be the star performer once again this term.
Can Hodgson finally fix the forward problem?
As terrific a footballer as Zaha is, one of the main issues he and Palace have faced in the last season or two is a lack of support in the attacking areas of the pitch. Christian Benteke remains the club’s record signing but over the last two seasons he has managed a paltry return of just four goals in 46 league appearances while poor Alexander Sorloth has not yet opened his Premier League account in 16 appearances for the Eagles.
Alfredo Morelos has been linked heavily with a move to London this summer but his fiery nature can lead to red cards and as such, he can be viewed as something of a liability. Connor Wickham is expected to be fit by the season start, but the former Sunderland man has never been the most prolific in front of goal and is unreliable with his fitness. Can Hodgson find the man to fit this rather obvious striker-shaped hole in his squad this summer?
Who will be the next Palace youth product to stake a first-team claim?
Crystal Palace have always been a club that have relied heavily on their ability to bring through talented young stars from their productive academy. Having only been a first-team regular, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been sold to Manchester United for £50m this summer, while star man Wilfried Zaha came through the ranks here before returning after an ill-fated spell at Old Trafford. There’s also the likes of Victor Moses and Nathaniel Clyne who were brought through at the club before going onto enjoy decent Premier League careers.
So in the absence of Wan-Bissaka, are there any other young starlets waiting for their chance to shine this term? Young left-back Tyrick Mitchell has impressed so far in this pre-season while Luke Dreher, a 20 year old midfielder, made his Premier League debut in the 5-3 win over Bournemouth on the final day of last season. There’s also the hugely talented Nyra Kirby, who was part of England’s U17 World Cup winning squad and spent time out on loan at Blackpool last term.
It’s likely to be another middling season for the Eagles this time around. There are clear deficiencies in this Palace squad and you have to wonder whether the project under Roy Hodgson is likely to be enough to tempt big-name players to fill those gaps. As such, the reliance is likely to be on the two or three star performers that the former England boss has at his disposal in the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Luka Milivojevic.
Unfortunately for the fans at Selhurst Park, we can’t see too many quality arrivals coming in before the season gets underway and as such, they may lack the quality to kick on for a top half finish, particularly if those key men are to suffer any injuries or loss of form. That said, they should have enough quality to steer clear of any real relegation trouble, but this could be a rather drab campaign for Palace.
Crystal Palace are one of the few teams in this table where we can’t find too much value! As the season draws near, more special bets, #WhatOdds and #YourOdds requests will become available and we’ll keep checking these to bring you our favourites for the upcoming campaign. For now, the only tip we can give you is Palace to finish in the bottom half at 3/10, although you may want to combine with a couple of our other team bets for any value.
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Crystal Palace Tips & Betting Specials 2019/2020
As they desperately look to cling onto talisman Wilfried Zaha, can Crystal Palace kick on for a top ten finish in the upcoming campaign?