Each day from now until the beginning of the Premier League season, we will preview two teams from England’s top flight. You can view them all here at PST Preview central. Don’t forget, the 2013-14 PL season begins on August 17th, and for the first-time ever you can watch every game live on NBC Sports.
After eight seasons in the second division, Crystal Palace reclaimed a spot in England’s top flight, the Eagles recovering from the early-season departure of manager Dougie Freedman to earn a place in the Premier League. Ian Holloway, who oversaw Blackpool F.C.’s improbable promotion in 2011, finds his challenge no easier this season, again given the daunting task of keeping a seemingly relegation-destined club from the Football League.
Transfers In: M José Campaña (Sevilla, Spain); W Jerome Thomas (West Bromwich Albion); F Dwight Gayle (Peterborough United); F Marouane Chamakh (impeding, Arsenal, loan); W Elliot Grandin (Blackpool)
Transfer Out: D Jazz Richards (Swansea City); Jacob Butterfield (Norwich City); W Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United); F Jermaine Easter (Millwall); M André Moritz (Bolton); Lewis Price
Key Player: Australian international Mile Jedinak was the club’s Player of the Year, but it’s difficult to overlook Glenn Murray’s importance to the Eagles’ fight for survival. The 29-year-old striker (pictured), who moved to Selhurst Park from Brighton & Hove Albion two years ago, bagged 31 goals in 45 games for Palace last season, and while the departed Wilfried Zaha’s contribution undoubtedly aided that break-out campaign, Murray can’t completely regress if Crystal Palace has a chance of sustaining in the top flight.
Unfortunately, Murray is going to miss the first part of the season. Current recovery timeline for his spring injury extends into December. That’s led to the likely loan acquisition of Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh (pictured, from his loan to West Ham) and the permanent capture of the evergreen Kevin Phillips- two Plan Bs for Murray.
It places a lot on Chamakh’s shoulders. Phillips is capable of coming in an poaching a few goals, but at 40 years old, he won’t take much of the load off the Arsenal loanee’s shoulders. Irrelevant during his last two-and-a-half years at The Emirates, Chamakh’s going to have to find some semblance of his 2010 self if Palace is going to manage their Murray-less spell.
And if they don’t get Chamakh? Palace will be in pure survival mode until winter.
Manager: Holloway was a favorite when the Seasiders improbably climbed through the Championship to claim a spot in the 2010-11 Premier League. When Blackpool were eventually relegated, the league not only missed the club’s progressive style but also the forthright entertainment the Tangerines’ manager provided post-match.
After one more year with the `Pool, Holloway made his way to South London after the start of the 2012-13 season, replacing Freedman after the Palace boss moved to Bolton. Eventually Holloway guided his second team in three seasons through the Championship playoffs, leading the Eagles to the promised land while Bolton stayed in the second division.
Outlook: Crystal Palace will fight relegation, though it’s too early to bank on the Eagles’ return to the Championship. Holloway’s experience could buy them enough time to assess their weaknesses, while a reliable if limited double pivot of Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi could also obscure a number of faults. Ultimately, 2013-14 success will be defined by weather they’re in the Premier League come in this time next year.