Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace

Leave a comment

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.

source:  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.

MORE: Read all the Premier League previews for each team here

Burning Question: Who is the best player in North America right now?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s a question many have tried to answer recently, and now it’s ProSoccerTalk’s chance to give a verdict of their own: Who is the best player in North America right now.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Knowing the loyalty of the devout Liga MX fan, the following statement may make a few onlookers cringe, or become enraged: Carlos Vela is currently the best player in North America. Period.

Truthfully, it shouldn’t take more than 15 seconds to generate such an answer. The question should instead be: What player comes at a touching distance from 31-year-old Vela?

Carlos Vela has been on a legendary streak since arriving in Los Angeles from San Sebastian, scoring for fun. Literally, scoring for fun – when he wants, how he wants: long or short range chips, stunning volleys, headers, from the spot, 30-yard runs leading to gentle tap-ins, free kicks, you name it. In numbers, it reads more like a humble 57 goals in 71 appearances.

That’s a healthy goal-per-game-ratio.

And to be clear, goalscorers aren’t the only type of players that qualify for the sweepstakes – supreme talent doesn’t discriminate. But in this case it just happens to be that an inverted winger, with a penchant for goal, happens to outdo not only every player in MLS, but in every other North American top-flight contest, including Liga MX.

And perhaps scoring goals isn’t his ultimate quality – Vela’s dynamism, agility and tenacity are at the core of his magic. There’s a reason why he’s considered the most talented Mexican player of his generation.

Still tough to accept? Ask yourself this: Who was the last player in North America that Josep Maria Bartomeu and Barcelona went after?

You guessed right – Vela. The Spanish giants know a thing or two about scouting elite talent, don’t they?

Transfer news: Kane to Real Madrid, Alexis Sanchez to West Ham

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

According to Sport, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has his sights set on signing Tottenham striker Harry Kane this summer.

With Luka Jovic failing to impress at the Santiago Bernabeu, Los Blancos are set to make some moves to consolidate the presence up top. Kane, 26, and Wolves striker Raul Jimenez are some of the few names to have been mentioned thus far.

Kane, who has a running contract with Spurs until 2024, recently mentioned that he wouldn’t rule out a move out of north London, if Tottenham were unable to capitalize on winning silverware.

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, I want to get better, I want to become one of the top, top players,” Kane said earlier this month. “It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever – but it’s not a no either.”

As far as transfers go, nothing gets bigger and more “ambitious” than a summer blockbuster move to Real Madrid. Kane has a promising project spearheaded by Jose Mourinho himself at his boyhood club, but the opportunity to represent Real Madrid – at such a prime age, with an astronomical amount of hype – may only come around once.


Alexis Sanchez’s time at Inter Milan is coming to a close, and his next destination may be a Premier League team not named Manchester United, according to FC Inter News.

The 31-year-old Chilean’s agent, Fernando Felicevich, has reportedly been inquired by West Ham, who are considering placing a bid to lure the winger out of Old Trafford.

Sanchez arrived at Inter last summer on loan but has failed to impress when healthy, recording a mere goal and three assist in 15 appearances this season. With the possibilities of Sanchez remaining at Manchester United past the summer getting slimmer by the day, the Hammers are hoping to land the South American at a reduced price.

Sanchez, one of United’s highest earners, is reportedly also gathering interest from other unnamed Premier League and Bundesliga sides.

Belarusian Premier League roundup: FC Energetik-BGU edge FC Minsk, moves to top of league

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Belarusian Premier League – the only active European top-flight league at the moment – continued on Sunday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

FC Energetik-BGU 2-0 FC Minsk 

FC Energetik-BGU are the new leaders of the Belarusian Premier League, following a 2-0 victory over FC Minsk, who were atop of the table prior to Sunday’s bout.

Aleksey Nosko broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, while winger Jasurbek Yakhshiboev sealed the victory for the hosts in stoppage time.

With the victory, Energetik-BGU are the only unbeaten team in the league after three matchweeks, winning all three matches. The positive spell began with a 3-1 against Belarus giants BATE Boristov. Since, Energetik-BGU have scored three goals, while managing to concede none.

Slutsk, who also featured on Sunday, moved up to second on the table following a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Isloch, which saw them play the final minutes of the match with 10 players.

Elsewhere in Belarusian Premier League 

Smolevichi-STI 0-0 Vitebsk

Isloch 2-3 Slutsk

Spanish players criticize league’s call for furloughs

Getty Images
2 Comments

MADRID (AP) Soccer players in Spain on Sunday criticized the Spanish league’s decision to ask clubs to put the footballers on government furloughs during the coronavirus crisis.

The league on Friday said the furloughs were needed because there was no agreement on the size of the salary cuts players must take to reduce the financial impact of the pandemic.

“It is strange that the Liga supports (the furloughs),” Spain’s players’ association said in a statement.

It said the league should have created a financial cushion for this period considering it always boasted about its “economic control measures” and the “well-balanced economy” of the Spanish clubs. The association said it also should be taken into account that the league has been temporarily suspended and not yet canceled.

The league and the players’ association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic.

The players said they agree with a salary reduction to help the clubs during the crisis, but not to the extent the league wants, which could amount to nearly half of the total losses if the competition is not resumed.

Players said they want to keep negotiating directly with the clubs instead of being forced into furloughs.

“The clubs and the players have been reaching agreements regarding the salaries,” the players’ association said. “What footballers are not going to do is relinquish labor rights.”

Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are among the Spanish clubs requesting furloughs, but both directly negotiated the amount of the salary reduction with players — 70% in both cases. Both clubs and their players are contributing to guarantee the wages of non-playing employees being furloughed.

The government furloughs help reduce the clubs’ labor costs while also guaranteeing players their jobs once the crisis is over.

Spain has more than 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 12,500 deaths. The nation is expected to remain in a lockdown until April 26.

There is no timetable for the return of the Spanish league.

Players maintained their position to only resume competing when health authorities deem it safe for everyone’s heath, a view also shared by the Spanish league.

The league has suggested it will recommend teams start mini-camp while the lockdown is still in place, if it’s possible to do so within the restrictions imposed by authorities.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni