Wilfried Zaha

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Premier League preview: Crystal Palace vs. Southampton

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At this point, Crystal Palace will take anything they can get — a win, a point, a goal — as they’ve achieved none of the above through four games of the 2017-18 Premier League season. The Eagles’ latest attempt comes Saturday, when Southampton visit Selhurst Park (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

On Monday, Frank De Boer was fired after 77 days as first-team manager (just 32 of those days coming during the actual season), replaced by former Fulham, Liverpool and England boss Roy Hodgson, who last held a club job in 2012.

[ STREAM: Crystal Palace vs. Southampton ]

As for Saints, Saturday could see the return of Virgil Van Dijk following his summer-long transfer saga. The 26-year-old Dutch defender failed in his bid to force a move away from the South Coast — a betrayal which manager Mauricio Pellegrino admits could cost him the club captaincy — and is expected to be available for selection.

“He played 90 minutes the other day in a game,” Pellegrino said. “But (Friday) we will decide. Hopefully, he will be getting better every single week, but I am happy with that, because it’s not about just Virgil. Everybody, I think right now, is ready to be part of the team.”

INJURIES: Palace — OUT:Wilfried Zaha (knee), Bakary Sak0 (hamstring), Connor Wickham (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Mamadou Sakho (knee) | Southampton — OUT: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (personal leave)


What they’re saying

Roy Hodgson on battling relegation: “I believe the team will stay up – absolutely. I wouldn’t have dreamt of taking the job if I didn’t, or that I or my coaching staff wouldn’t be the right people to do that. Once the chairman made it clear that he thought that we were the right people, then there has never been a doubt in my mind, and this could be a very good year because if it ends up with us still in the Premier League and the fans happy, then that would make me very happy.”

Mauricio Pellegrino on the lack of goals: “I think the number of goals is there because we scored three goals and it’s a fact. But at the same time we created more chances and we deserve to score more goals because in the past three games, we deserved to score more goals than we did. It’s part of our job, football is sometimes efficiency, you have to convert these chances and I see the next game as the opportunity to keep improving.”


Prediction

Hodgson’s tactics should play to Palace’s strengths — dynamic wingers who cross the ball into the box for an aerially dominant striker, Christian Benteke — much more so than those of De Boer. Don’t be surprised to see Palace catch a bit of lightning in a bottle, especially once Zaha and Sakho return from injury in the next couple weeks.

What’s next for Crystal Palace?

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Roy Hodgson is expected to take over at Selhurst Park after Crystal Palace fired coach Frank De Boer after just 77 days on the job.

It’s a second successive short managerial stint for De Boer, who was fired after 85 days at Inter Milan but won four Eredivisie titles at Ajax between 2010-16.

[ MORE: De Boer fired ]

Here’s how De Boer has responded to his dismissal, via Instagram, “Very disappointed about the decision but never the less I want to thank the players, staff and the fans for their support. Good luck for the future.”

Palace was blown out at home to open the PL season, a 3-0 loss to Huddersfield Town, losing star forward Wilfried Zaha for four weeks in the process.

The Eagles then lost 1-0 at Liverpool, 2-0 to Swansea, and finally 1-0 at Burnley on Sunday. De Boer did lead Palace to a 2-1 EFL Cup win over Ipswich Town.

It’s another short stint for Palace, too, which has seen a manager oversee more than 100 matches since Neil Warnock from 2007-10. Since then, the Eagles have had nine full-time managers.

Should Hodgson be hired in time for this weekend, he’ll face early and stiff tests in his tenure.

Palace’s next five fixtures
Saturday vs. Southampton
Sept. 19 vs. Huddersfield Town (EFL Cup)
Sept. 23 at Manchester City
Sept. 30 at Manchester United
Oct. 14 vs. Chelsea

So, yeah, this is going to be quite a task for the new manager’s Eagles, who will be refined in the fire.

That said, much like Sam Allardyce was able to lead Palace to safety with a January transfer window in which he signed season-changing players Luka Milivojević and Mamadou Sakho, this is not a lost cause.

Given Palace had a meager schedule to start the season, but there’s a lot of promise beyond the zeroes on its side of the scoreboard and lack of points on the table.

The positives:

— Palace’s 14.3 shots per game rank ninth in the PL, while it’s allowed the fifth-fewest shots per game (10.8).

The Eagles are eighth in key passes, yet have not recorded an assist.

— It’s possession percentage is eighth at 50.1 percent, and Palace is second in dribbles per game at 15.3.

— Palace is tops in the PL with 19.8 interceptions per game, and sixth in the PL with 18.8 aerials won per game.

Most of this has come without Zaha, and the new Palace boss can trot out a lineup with Christian Benteke, Yohan Cabaye, Milivojevic, Sakho, Andros Townsend, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

So, we suspect, Palace is going to be just fine. And De Boer is probably right to feel a bit hard done-by.

Now maybe he was despised in the room — players do have the power these days — but this is a questionable firing by Palace, one that looks certain to “overcome” by time. Looking at the fixtures. Palace will sit Bottom Three come mid-October unless it has another run of beating top teams, as it did last winter.

PL Sunday preview: Palace seek 1st point; Swansea vs. Newcastle

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures feature four sides currently sitting in the bottom half of the league table, a combined three wins and 11 points between them. To say points are precious to these sides would be a massive understatement.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Premier League’s big boys score big on Saturday ]

Burnley vs. Crystal Palace — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Frank De Boer could have never foreseen himself fighting for his job just three games into his Palace tenure, but ahead of Sunday’s visit to Burnley’s Turf Moor, that’s precisely the Dutchman’s reality after dropping all nine points to start the season, and doing so without scoring a single goal and conceding six. After losing his job at Inter Milan after just 14 games last season, De Boer’s reputation (and future employment prospects) could very well be on the line.

“We know it takes time and it is a long-term project we have here,” de Boer said at his Friday press conference. “I have a positive feeling from what I have seen in training this week. I want to start seeing the performances I am expecting and once we start getting results it will give us all the confidence we need.”

INJURIES: Burnley — OUT: Nahki Wells (ankle); PROBABLE: Jeff Hendrick (thigh) | Palace — OUT: Wilfried Zaha (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jairo Riedewald (groin), James Tomkins (groin); PROBABLE: Mamadou Sakho (ankle)

Swansea City vs. Newcastle United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The dark-cloud story at Newcastle remains the same in September as it was in March, April and May: Rafa Benitez might just up and walk away from the club any day now, due to his poor working relationship with club owner Mike Ashley. The Magpies started the season in poor form, losing to Tottenham Hotspur and Huddersfield Town, before trouncing a lifeless West Ham United side right before the international break. Recapturing that momentum will be vitally important against a Swansea side which is expected to figure in this season’s relegation battle, right alongside Newcastle.

To make matters worse, Benitez won’t be on the sideline for Sunday’s trip to the Liberty Stadium after Benitez underwent surgery for a hernia last week. Newcastle assistant Francisco de Miguel Moreno will take charge in Benitez’s absence.

INJURIES: Swansea — OUT: Ki Sung-Yueng (knee), Nathan Dyer (achilles), Kyle Bartley (knee) | Newcastle — OUT: Chancel Mbemba (groin), Aleksandar Mitrovic (suspension); QUESTIONABLE: DeAndre Yedlin (hamstring), Dwight Gayle (illness)

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Liverpool will still be without Philippe Coutinho due to a back injury.
  • Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne also miss out, but Daniel Sturridge is fit.
  • Crystal Palace has won three-straight games against Liverpool in the Premier League.
  • Both teams have scored in each of the last 10 meetings in all competitions between Liverpool and Crystal Palace, averaging 3.9 goals per match.

For the second-consecutive week, Liverpool will have to play without Philippe Coutinho, who is still missing with a back injury.

However, that didn’t seem to be an issue last week against Watford as Liverpool scored three goals, but it was the leaky defense that allowed Watford to score three goals themselves. (Watch live at 10:00 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Crystal Palace meanwhile also allowed three goals last week but couldn’t score any of its own as it was humbled, 3-0 to Huddersfield. Crystal Palace’s squad is still struggling to adjust to manager Frank De Boer‘s free-flowing style of play and Wilfried Zaha will miss Saturday’s encounter.

But working in Crystal Palace’s favor is Christian Benteke and the club’s three straight wins over Liverpool. It will surely be an open and exciting match at Anfield.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Crystal Palace: “We played Crystal Palace a few weeks ago. I’m not 100 per cent sure about the line-ups in that game, but Phil and Zaha were on the pitch and they will not be [this weekend]. I’m not sure if Adam played in this game, but that’s how it is…The only thing we know is it’s a tough game, probably both teams were not overly happy – we were not really disappointed about our first game, but it was how a first game can be, there are things to improve and it’s always like this, but even then we could’ve won which I think everybody knows.”

Crystal Palace manager Frank De Boer on his system of play: “I am not a manager who suddenly after a defeat decides to change things around and as I say I did see some very positive points so I am not going to change the system. We don’t need to use adapting to a change in style of our play as an excuse, it’s not so difficult and quite easy to play. The Premier League is so competitive that you have to work hard as a team to get a result because if you don’t you get punished. The players don’t want to use the new system as an excuse and I think everybody understands what we want but we have to execute it better.”

Prediction

Liverpool’s centerback pair of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren looked better midweek in the UEFA Champions League against Hoffenheim, but it’s another challenge to face Benteke and a motivated Crystal Palace team. Still, the speed of thought and pace on the field of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane should prove to be the difference. Liverpool 3-2 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha reportedly out injured

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Multiple reports claim Crystal Palace will be without Wilfried Zaha star forward for up to four weeks.

Zaha, 24, injured his right knee in the disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Huddersfield Town on the opening day of the Premier League season.

He left Selhurst Park in a knee brace and reports now suggest Zaha will be missing until mid-September.

This is a hammer blow for new Palace manager Frank De Boer as Zaha scored seven goals and added nine assists last season. That saw him named Palace’s Player of the Season and he signed a new five-year contract to ward off interest from Tottenham Hotspur, among others.

It was originally thought Zaha could be available for Palace’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool this weekend, but he will now miss the Premier League game against Swansea City on Aug. 26, plus the League Cup clash with Ipswich Town and World Cup qualifiers for Ivory Coast in early September.

With pressure growing on FDB as he tries to push through an expansive style of play for the Eagles with a similar squad to the one which Sam Allardyce turned into a bastion of the long-ball game last season, losing the pace, power and trickery of Zaha is far from ideal.

In his absence Andros Townsend or Jeffrey Schlupp will fill in.