Crystal Palace are all of a sudden everyone’s favorite second team. They are a team full of vibrant attackers who never say die and their fans create a boisterous and hostile atmosphere home or away. The Eagles are all set to soar into their third-straight season as a Premier League club.
[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]
Palace exceeded everyone’s expectations last year after a superb second half of the campaign following Alan Pardew’s arrival as manager. When former Palace midfielder Pardew left Newcastle for Palace in midseason they were in the relegation zone but they ended up finishing 10th. Remarkable. Palace have never won a league title and their best effort in the FA Cup came when Pardew was playing for them in 1990 but they lost to Manchester United in the final.
The south London club have a local rivalry with Charlton Athletic and Brighton and Hove Albion, both in England’s second-tier, while in the PL they will come up against London rivals Chelsea, West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Best possible XI:
—– McCarthy —–
— Ward — Dann — Delaney — Soare —
— Jedinak —– Cabaye —– McArthur —
—– Bolasie —- Bamford —- Puncheon —-
Transfers In: Yohan Cabaye ($20 million, Paris Saint-Germain), Alex McCarthy ($5 million, QPR), Patrick Bamford (Season-long loan, Chelsea)
Transfers Out: Shola Ameobi (Released), Steven Dobbie (Released), Peter Ramage (Released), Jerome Thomas (Released), Owen Garvan (Released), Lewis Price (Free, Sheffield Wednesday)
Last season: 10th in Premier League – After the sudden departure of Tony Pulis on the eve of last season, the Eagles were struggling under Neil Warnock up until January and then roared up the standings when he was fired and Pardew took his place. Pardew got the best out of Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon, Glenn Murray and Wilfried Zaha as they won 10 of their last 18 games to finish in the top 10. It was a sensational season and the first time Palace had finished in the top half of the PL.
Star player: Yohan Cabaye – He hasn’t kicked a ball yet for Palace, but we all know Cabaye will become the heartbeat of the Eagles. The French international midfielder, 28, may turn out to be the best signing of the summer as Palace paid a club record $20 million to Paris Saint-Germain for the creative genius. Cabaye pulled the strings for Newcastle when Pardew was his boss, and expect plenty of the same once again as his deadly set pieces and inch-perfect passes will be just what the likes of Bolasie and Zaha need.
Coaches’ Corner: Pardew’s legendary status at Selhurst Park is growing by the day after his managerial success last season. He is known as “Pardiola” in his native south London, as he returned home to not only saved the Eagles from relegation, but also mastermind their best-ever PL finish. He has spent wisely this summer and if Palace get off to a good start, their goal of finishing in the top eight could happen. They are fun to watch with Pardew letting his forward players express themselves, but he is one of the best managers in the PL at getting his teams to keep their shape. All in all, Pardew and Palace could be on the cusp of a major breakthrough.
PST predicts: Sticking with the positive theme, Palace will be aiming to finish in the top 10 once again. Last season was the first time in club history that they were preparing for a second-straight season in the PL and they will look to build on that success and become an establish PL club. With mercurial talents like Puncheon, Bolasie and Cabaye around, Palace will look to kick things on. Despite issues with their defense, expect another season of progress from the Selhurst club.