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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Crystal Palace

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The Eagles are on the rise but this season is huge in dictating how lofty their ascent will be in the next few years.

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Alan Pardew‘s side started off like an express train last season, hovering around the Premier League’s top six around the festive period but then dropping away drastically in the second half of the campaign as they became embroiled in a relegation battle. Granted, their run to the FA Cup final played a part in that, but there’s no doubting Palace need some reinforcements to turn them into a club challenging for a top six finish.

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With American investment providing funds to help renovate Selhurst Park, plus add more transfer funds to the kitty, Palace is entering a whole new era. Don’t forget, they were only promoted to the PL in 2013 but they’ve quickly cemented themselves as a solid PL outfit and are now looking to make that next step.

The Eagles will soar into the top six because… They have an experienced manager who knows the league inside out. Pardew sets his teams up to be difficult to beat and lets his wingers and full backs push on at every chance. If they can sort their home form out this season then Palace will threaten the big boys. There are few better atmospheres in the PL than the one generated down in south London.

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Most likely they’ll sit in midtable and maybe push into the top 10: Our old friend pragmatism has arrived. With Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell around it is unlikely Palace will score loads of goals. Pardew needs a poacher and that was the main reason for Palace’s slump last season. In defense and in midfield he’s set. Palace are willing to spend big to get a 20-goal a season man. If they fail to find him then it’s a case of midtable mediocrity.


Best Possible XI

— Hennessey —

— Ward — Dann — Tomkins — Souare —

— Ledley — Cabaye —

—–  Zaha —– Bolasie —– Townsend

— Wickham —


Transfers In: Steve Mandanda ($2 million, Marseille), James Tomkins ($13 million, West Ham United), Andros Townsend ($18 million, Newcastle United)

Transfers Out: Emmanuel Adebayor, Reise Allassani, Andreas Breimyr, Marouane Chamakh, Connor Dymond, Brede Hangeland, William Hoare, Chris Kettings, Adrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Oliver Pain, Christian Scales (All released), Dwight Gayle ($13 million, Newcastle United), David Gregory (Free, Cambridge United), Jake Gray (Free, Luton Town), Alex McCarthy (Undisclosed, Southampton), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Free, Peterborough United)

Last Season: After winning just two PL games in 2016 Palace’s season ended poorly and they finished in 15th place. Pardew’s side reached the FA Cup final where they eventually lost to Manchester United 2-1 after extra time despite leading 1-0 with 12 minutes to go. A certain premature victory dance from Mr. Pardew will live long in the memory…

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Andros Townsend #17 of Crystal Palace FC controls the ball during the match against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on July 16, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Crystal Palace FC defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Star Player: Andros Townsend – This man had a sensational finish to the season with Newcastle United and did everything to try and keep the Magpies up following his January move from Tottenham Hotspur. A pure out-and-out winger, Townsend will cut in from the flank and fire shots at goal. Has the potential to be Palace’s leading scorer and will push Bolasie and Zaha all the way in the fight for the three attacking midfield positions. Yohan Cabaye, technically, is Palace’s most gifted player but injury and a severe loss of form hampered his impact last season.

Coach’s Corner: Pardew is back at home at Palace and the former Eagles player is now entering his second full season in charge of the club. He has cut the deadwood from his squad and brought in three experienced campaigners so far with Townsend and James Tomkins having plenty of PL nous. You know what you will get with a Pardew team. They’ll be committed, dangerous from set pieces and tight defensively. Palace will scrap for every point but if the Eagles have another season of failing to crack the top 10 then it could be quite delicate for Pardew at the end of this campaign. He really needs to sign a top-class finisher this summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Alan Pardew (R) Manager of Crystal Palace and Yohan Cabaye (L) applaud home supporters after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Norwich City at Selhurst Park on April 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

PST Predicts: Best case scenario for Palace is finishing in 8-10 place in the table. They won’t challenge the big boys who have spent big this summer but they will dish out plenty of shocks along the way. Expect another good cup run and a big push for a top 10 finish under Pardiola.

Scott Parker’s first season as a manager ends in Fulham promotion

Fulham promotion
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Fulham are headed back to the Premier League after just one season in the EFL Championship, and that means Scott Parker has worked something of a minor miracle in west London.

[ MORE: Promoted! Fulham back in PL after 1 season in Championship ]

Parker took on a hefty challenge when he accepted his first senior managerial job last year. Fulham were a virtual lock to be relegated from the Premier League when he was named interim boss in February, and their place in the second division had long since been confirmed by the time he was named Claudio Ranieri’s permanent successor in May. The squad was expensive, bloated and full of players who had no intention of sticking around after relegation.

Given the club’s wealth of resources relative to the rest of the Championship, promotion at the first time of asking was more an expectation than a hope at Craven Cottage. Fast-forward 15 months, and the 39-year-old has quickly proven himself the right man for the job after doing just that — taking Fulham back to the PL by way of Tuesday’s Championship promotion playoff final.

Promotion may have been sealed on Tuesday, but Parker believes it was earned over a long period of transition and self-reflection by the players, beginning when he first took the job — quotes from the BBC:

“We’ve done what we’ve done tonight, but there’s still improvement, and that’s what makes me so proud and happy.

“For all of the good players and everything you see, what makes me so happy is I see a group of players who only a year ago were struggling psychologically, didn’t have a mindset or mentality.

“I’ve driven this team every single day and what makes me proud is I stood on the touchline tonight and seen a team that represents what I’ve been saying over the last 12 months.”

Now comes the the truly difficult challenge for Parker: after winning Fulham promotion he must assemble a squad of players not only good enough to stay in the PL, but also one full of individuals who want to be at his club and not simply any club that just so happens to be in England’s top division.

Promoted! Fulham back in PL after 1 season in Championship

Championship promotion playoff final
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Fulham are headed back to the Premier League after claiming west London derby delight at the expense of local rivals Brentford in Tuesday’s Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

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It was an incredibly cagey affair — as the Championship promotion playoff final tends to be — that saw the two sides combine for just 17 shots (four on target) through 90 minutes of regular time. In the end, it was the most unlikely of restarts halfway through extra time that sent the Cottagers on their way.

Brentford were nearly the architects of their own downfall early in the first half. FirstIt was a poor back pass from Henrik Dalsgaard that left David Raya in worlds of trouble in the 10th minute, though Fulham were unable to find a proper chance amid the chaos inside Brentford’s box.

Fulham were perhaps fortunate not to go a man down in the 29th minute, when Harrison Reed slid through Christian Norgaard and put studs into the Dane’s ankle. Reed came over top of the ball in a 50-50 challenge and, despite first making contact with the ball, came in with borderline excessive force and in a reckless fashion. Nonetheless, only a yellow card for the on-loan Southampton youngster.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic issues injury update ]

The start of the second half looked like more of the same from the first half: Fulham with an early chance and Brentford scrambling to stay level. Neeskens Kebano curled a free kick around the wall in the 48th minute, likely beating Raya if it was on frame, but only managed to rippled the outside netting.

Championship Golden Boot runner-up (25 goals) Ollie Watkins had the final scoring chance of regular time in the 70th minute as he fired from the edge of Fulham’s penalty area, but Marek Rodak was able to comfortably palm the ball over the crossbar. Still, the first threatening signs of life from the Bees.

[ MORE: Man United, Dortmund in talks over $140 million Sancho transfer ]

The decisive moment finally arrived in the 105th minute, and it came from absolutely nothing — less than nothing, one might credibly argue. Joe Bryan was tasked with restarting play following a foul roughly 50 yards from goal. Rather than lofting the ball high and to the back post, as Raya so clearly expected him to do, Bryan wrapped his left foot around the ball and whipped it toward the near post — as “near” as it can be from 50-plus yards. Raya was painfully slow to recognize the shot and tried to scramble across the face of goal, but never had a chance of getting anywhere near the ball.

Bryan doubled Fulham’s lead in the 117th minute. It was fast and fluid one-two atop Brentford’s penalty area and the left back tucked it away to seal promotion back to the top flight, and it turned out to be hugely necessary after Dalsgaard poked home a late consolation goal for the Bees with virtually the last kick of the game.

Fulham spent the 2018-19 season in the Premier League but finished with just 26 points in 19th place and were relegated back to the Championship after one season. Only time will tell if they’re able to stay in the top division this time, or if they’re a full-time yo-yo club.

Transfer confirmed: Ferran Torres to Man City for $26 million

Ferran Torres to Man City
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Reports sending Valencia youngster Ferran Torres to Man City have been burning red-hot over the last 24 hours.

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Man City confirmed their capture of the 20-year-old — one of the brightest prospects in all of Europe — on Tuesday.

Torres, who came through the Valencia academy, tallied six goals and seven assists in 43 appearances (all competitions), including two of each in the Champions League, for Valencia this season.

He broke into Valencia’s first team back in November of 2017, at the age of 17, before establishing himself as a regular over the last two seasons.

[ MORE: Man United, Dortmund in talks over $140 million Sancho transfer ]

Reports out of the UK claim it will reportedly cost just $26 million to bring Ferran Torres to Man City, plus possible add-ons, as he had just one year remaining on his contact with Valencia. Torres reportedly met with City sporting director Txiki Begiristain earlier on Tuesday, adding further fuel to the fire that a move was imminent.

Torres seems an obvious replacement for recently departed winger Leroy Sane. He’ll join Raheem Sterling as one of only two natural wingers in Pep Guardiola’s squad, offering more tactical flexibility — not to mention, width — after City were fairly limited in the wide areas during the 2019-20 season.

Championship playoff final: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Brentford - Fulham
Photo byJacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Fulham – Brentford: Team news is in with the two West London sides set to do battle for a place in the Premier League in the Football League Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

We can hardly wait to find out who’ll claim the 20th berth in the 2020-21 Premier League season in the richest game on earth.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europe ]

Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.

Team news


Key players

Fulham leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 26 goals were the joint-most in the Championship and more than three times as many as Tom Cairney, second amongst the Cottagers. He’s healthy for the first time after missing the semis with a hamstring injury.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins scored the same amount of goals as Mitrovic, tying for the league lead, and he’s joined by Said Benrahma’s 17 goals (fifth in the league) and Bryan Mbeumo (eighth). The latter have combined for 16 assists, too. The Bees can sting.

Their seasons

Brentford won a even-straight league games to surge into the mix for automatic promotion but lost their last two, meeting Fulham on 81 points.

As for the Cottagers, Fulham finished the season on a seven-match unbeaten run which included five wins

Their playoffs

Brentford overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit to oust Swansea City in the semifinal, while Fulham’s first leg win was enough to outlast Cardiff City’s strong second leg in their semi.

Odds and ends

Brentford beat Fulham twice, 1-0 at Griffin Park and 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

The Bees are favored to win the match at +108 odds, while Fulham carries +265 odds of a win.

Prediction

Mitrovic’s availability is huge for a Fulham side hoping to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense. Brentford feels like it’s the superior side but Fulham has been here and Cairney even scored the goal to beat Aston Villa in the 2017-18 playoff final. That experience is an X-factor, but we’ll still call Brentford 2-1 winners.

How to watch Fulham – Brentford

Kickoff: 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Stream: ESPN+