Damien Delaney

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Season Preview: Finally some stability for Crystal Palace under Hodgson?

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Crystal Palace at a glance

Premier League titles: 0 (highest finish: 3rd – English First Division, 1990-91)

FA Cups: 0 (best finish: runners-up – 1990, 2016)

League Cups: 0 (best finish: semifinals – 1993, 1995, 2001, 2012)

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Since the start of the 2014-15 season, five managers (including Tony Pulis, who resigned two days before the campaign began) have been in charge at Selhurst Park (average tenure: 290 days). Somewhat surprisingly, Palace have managed to finish 10th, 15th, 14th and 11th during those four tumultuous seasons. Relegation seemed a distinct possibility in each of the three (particularly last season, when they started the season without a point — or a goal — in the first seven games), and yet, here we are in August 2018, previewing Crystal Palace, Premier League club.

Roy Hodgson arrived to replace Frank De Boer (just five games into his tenure) on Sept. 12, and while results didn’t take an immediate 180-degree turn, the Eagles lost just two of their following 12 games after finally getting on the board. Hodgson steadied the ship from October to January, hit a bit of a rough patch (in successive games against three of the PL’s top-five finishers) in February and March, and finished with five wins (and just one loss) in the final eight games of the season. Add it all up, and you’ve got 44 points (11 clear of the relegation zone).

Perhaps the only question that matters ahead of the 2018-19 season is whether or not Hodgson can carry that momentum over to the new season and guide Palace to a handful of points in August and September.


Palace will finish top-half because… they genuinely have one of the most talented starting units outside of the top-six (and one or two others). They managed to keep hold of Wilfried Zaha, who’s very much at home as a very unconventional striker, as well as Mamadou Sakho and Luka MilivojevicCheikhou Kouyate will make them much tougher in midfield, and Max Meyer could turn out to be an absolute steal as a midfield playmaker.

Palace will end up in a relegation battle because…. they’re Crystal Palace, and it’s kind of what they do. While they’ve finished fairly high the last three years, it’s been an absolute slog to get there. A similar start this season, followed by a failed bailout by [insert English relegation-battling specialist here], and it could all go wrong very quickly.

Best possible XI:

Hennessey

Ward — Tomkins — Sakho — Van Aanholt

Milivojevic — Kouyate — Meyer

Townsend — Benteke — Zaha

Transfers In: Cheikhou Kouyate ($12.5 million, West Ham United), Max Meyer (free, Schalke), Vicente Guaita (free, Getafe)

Transfers Out: Yohan Cabaye (free), Lee Chung-yong (free), Bakary Sako (free), Damien Delaney (free)

Ranking their offseason: C

The squad was already quite talented, but a bit more depth was certainly needed, particularly in the attacking half. Getting out from under Cabaye’s crippling wages was a massive win itself, and Meyer could make a real impact over 24 or 36 months, but it doesn’t feel like quite enough for this season. Considering what was done this summer by the other clubs aiming to finish between 10th and 17th, one or two more signings (for decent money) before the deadline would be welcome.

Star player: Zaha was linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur, and a couple other PL clubs, all summer long, but fortunately for Palace, Tottenham don’t actually sign players during the transfer window, so the 25-year-old looks set to tear it up in south London for another season.

Coach’s Corner: Hodgson has been everywhere (nine different clubs and three national teams at multiple age levels) during his 36-year managerial career, so there’s nothing he hasn’t seen (Palace is his fifth job in the PL). Despite not scoring a single goal in the first seven games, Palace still managed to finish 9th in goals scored last season, so he’ll let them play.

PST Predicts: At this point, Palace feel like part of the PL furniture, destined to finish 12th or 13th season after season. It’s not a bad place to be, but they’re a few players away from dreaming of breaking into the top-eight.

Report: Kouyate has medical ahead of Palace switch

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Crystal Palace can count on continued improvement if it keeps adding pieces like this.

The Eagles have had a slow start to the transfer season, adding goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in an offseason which saw Damien Delaney and Yohan Cabaye leave Selhurst Park.

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Most important, though, is that Palace have so far resisted all offers for Wilfried Zaha, and are said to be on the verge of two significant signings.

As noted in our rumor roundup, Multiple reports say that Max Meyer will join on a free transfer from Schalke.

And Sky Sports says West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate will join Meyer and Luka Milivojevic in Palace’s midfield should the Senegalese midfielder pass a medical.

Kouyate, 28, also deputized at center back last season, and has made 147 appearances for West Ham since 2014. Kouyate has 15 goals and 10 assists with West Ham, and also 51 caps for Senegal.

Palace is good money to improve their standing this season, especially if Zaha can stay healthy (The Eagles lost every match he missed last season).

PL Preview: Tuesday fixtures include Chelsea

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As the holiday season nears, the Premier League begins to ramp up. While that can be hard on Premier League managers, it’s great for you, the fan, who now has plenty of options to choose from as you make your way through the work week.

[ PL SCHEDULE: Where to watch all midweek Premier League games ]


Burnley vs. Stoke City – 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

If Burnley defeats Stoke City on Tuesday, the Clarets would jump Tottenham, Arsenal, and Liverpool en route to a place in the Premier League table’s Top 4. Just pause for a moment and soak that in.

Better?

That’s right, Sean Dyche has his Burnley side on a roll, having won five of its last seven matches. In games where they were earning draws last year, they’re picking up all three points this year. Meanwhile, they face a Potters group that sits just three points above the relegation zone, meaning the heat has turned up on Mark Hughes. What is in store for us at Turf Moor?

INJURIES: Burnley – Tom Heaton (shoulder), Robbie Brady (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee) | Stoke City – Jese (personal leave), Glen Johnson (knee), Bruno Martins Indi (shoulder), Stephen Ireland (leg).


Huddersfield vs. Chelsea – 3:00 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Antonio Conte, in charge of the defending champions, is suddenly on the hot seat. Already 14 points back of leaders and expected winners Manchester City, the Blues are sitting a distant third in the table.

A trip to Huddersfield could be exactly what the doctor ordered. The Terriers started the season well, but had lost four Premier League matches in a row before a 2-0 victory over Brighton turned things around.

Conte has already ruled Chelsea out of the title, with the Blues now fighting for a Champions League place. Can the boss take advantage of the poor opposition form? He will be without star striker Alvaro Morata who is dealing with both back problems and general fatigue, with Conte calling his schedule “impossible.”

INJURIES: HuddersfieldMichael Hefele (Achillies), Philip Billing (ankle), Jon Stankovic (knee), Kasey Palmer (ineligible – parent club) | Chelsea – Alvaro Morata (back), David Luiz (knee).


Crystal Palace vs. Watford – 3:00 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

The Eagles hav a chance to pull themselves not only off the bottom of the Premier League table, but out of the relegation zone completely when they host Watford at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace sits a point back of Swansea City on the bottom, but with somewhat improved performances under Roy Hodgson, three points would climb them completely out of the drop.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Hodgson balances a desperate need to collect points with discipline of his struggling striker Christian Benteke, who remains goalless on the year after missing a critical penalty he wasn’t supposed to take in the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth over the weekend.

Watford, meanwhile, is without a win in its last three and desperately needs a result. The Hornets sit ninth in the Premier League table but could see their advantage over the bottom half evaporate with another loss.

INJURIES: Crystal Palace – Mamadou Sakho (calf), Joel Ward, Damien Delaney, Connor Wickham (knee) | Watford – Will Hughes (hamstring), Isaac Success (knee), Nathan Chalobah (knee), Younes Kaboul (hamstring), Craig Cathcart (knee)

Ajax reunion at Palace as De Boer signs center back

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Crystal Palace has added much needed depth and youth to its corps of center backs with 20-year-old Ajax man Jairo Riedewald.

The left back in Ajax’s UEFA Europa League loss to Manchester United, Riedewald completed better than 92 percent of his passes in Eredivisie play. He also nabbed 2.2 interceptions per match.

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Fellow Palace center backs James Tompkins, Scott Dann, and Damien Delaney average age is 31.3.

Riedewald played for Palace boss Frank De Boer at Ajax. From Palace’s official site:

“He will be an excellent addition to our squad, Jairo is a young player but already has a lot of experience. I know he is looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

Riedewald played the majority of his Eredivisie matches at center back, but has 18 appearances as a defensive midfielder and another 12 at left back.

He’s Palace’s second addition of this summer, the other being a loan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea.

STREAM LIVE: Man City host Crystal Palace

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Manchester City welcome Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both teams eager for a win for very different reasons.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

City sit in fourth place but Pep Guardiola‘s side are just one point ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United as their place in the UEFA Champions League next season is far from secure.

Palace will seal safety with a win and a loss for Swansea City against Everton later on Saturday (although a win for Palace would all but secure safety due to their vastly superior goal difference over the Swans) as Sam Allardyce‘s men sit six points clear of the bottom three with three games to go. After an incredible run of results which included win against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, the Eagles have their destiny in their own hands.

In team news City make four changes from the team which drew with Middlesbrough last time out as Sterling, Silva and Sane all come in and Sergio Aguero misses out through injury.

Palace make one change with Jeffrey Schlupp in for Damien Delaney at center back.


LINEUPS

Manchester City: Caballero; Fernandinho, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy; Toure, Silva, De Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Sane. Subs: Gunn, Sagna, Zabaleta, Fernando, Kolarov, Navas, Iheanacho

Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Kelly, Van Aanholt, Schlupp; McArthur, Milivojevic, Puncheon; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha. Subs: Speroni, Delaney, Flamini, Lee, Sakho, Remy, Campbell.