Mathieu Flamini

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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace are at a crossroads heading into the new Premier League season.

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Sam Allardyce stepped down as boss following a successful relegation battle last season and now the Eagles have plumped for a bright young manager in Frank De Boer, with the Dutch legend experiencing English soccer for the first time. He will be tasked with creating a new playing identity for a young, hungry squad who have been dragged into too many relegation battles for their talent levels over the past few seasons.

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

The Eagles have yet to win a major trophy in their 111-year history but backed by American ownership they have big plans to extend Selhurst Park and kick on to become one of London’s big boys. The self-proclaimed “Pride of South London” have a passionate fanbase who generate a fantastic atmosphere down in SE25 and they’re one of the trendier teams to support with the sense of hipster strong.

Can they finally push for a European spot and win a cup competition?

Best, worst case scenario: Everything clicks and Palace push for seventh spot and a place in Europe, but on the other hand if they can’t sort out their defensive issues than they must prepare for another relegation battle.

Best possible XI is…


—– Hennessey —–

—- Ward —- Dann —- Reidewald —- Van Aanholt —-

—- Zaha —- Milivojevic —- Puncheon —- Schlupp —-

—– Cabaye —–

—– Benteke —–


Transfers in: Jairo Riedewald ($10.4 million, Ajax), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Loan, Chelsea)

Transfers out: Steve Mandanda ($3.9 million, Marseille), Mathieu Flamini (Released), Jonathan Benteke (Released), Joe Ledley (Released), Frazier Campbell (Free, Hull City), Zeki Fryers (Free, Barnsley)

Last season
– 14th in the Premier League
– FA Cup 4th round
– EFL Cup 3rd round

Star player: Wilfried Zaha – It may be Christian Benteke who grabs the goals but Zaha epitomizes what Palace is trying to do. The local lad has pace to burn and his direct style of play terrifies opposition defenders, with his crossing and shooting ability improving all the time. He will be handed the keys to Palace’s offense and after signing a new long-term deal, he’s proved he is Palace through and through. Now he needs to add more goals to his game to become the complete package. Don’t be surprised if he floats just behind Benteke rather than spending all of his time out wide this season.

Coaches’ Corner: Frank de Boer enters his first season in England in an interesting predicament. Palace want to become a club who are known for an attractive style of play rather than a club full of good pros battling relegation. The only issue is that most of the defense-minded team put together by Sam Allardyce last season remains and FDB has to mold them subtly into something a little different. It has to be said, he’s not going for an all-out ‘Total Football’ approach and his Ajax teams were at times more robust than many would like to believe, but it will still be tough for the former Ajax, Barcelona and Glasgow Rangers defender to make his mark in the Premier League. After a tricky, and short, spell at Inter Milan last season, de Boer seems ready to prove he had what it takes to succeed. Palace haven’t backed him in the transfer market and the Dutchman will need a fast start to the season.

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PST predicts: Another relegation battle beckons if they don’t get off to a flying start. If they win four of their first five games all will be well and confidence will grow. If not, they have a horrendous run of games coming up in late September (Liverpool, Man City and Man United in a row) which could define their season. The Eagles will be hovering just about the drop zone.

Premier League Roundup: Powers surge, including history-chasing Chelsea

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Four of the Premier League’s Top Six have already claimed their three points before Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur play their festive midweek games.

That’s headlined by rampant Chelsea, winners of a dozen-straight games, and red-hot Manchester United.

[ MORE: Why Boxing Day matters to PL ]

West Ham stayed hot, too, while Sam Allardyce had his debut as Crystal Palace boss, Burnley scored a sweet winner, and champs Leicester lost yet again.

Manchester United 3-1 SunderlandRECAP

United keeps making distance on the field while chasing the five teams ahead of it on the table. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal and an assist, Paul Pogba hooked up the Swede, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a wonderful — albeit offside — goal of the year contender before Fabio Borini gave the visitors minor pride in an unhappy return for David Moyes to Old Trafford.

Chelsea 3-0 BournemouthRECAP

Wow. Antonio Conte‘s Blues have now won 12-straight, a new club record, and can match Arsenal’s all-time PL win streak of 14 (across two seasons) if they beat Stoke on Dec. 31 and Tottenham on Jan. 4 and will also set a single-season record for most PL consecutive wins. Pedro scored twice, and Eden Hazard converted a penalty kick in the win.

Hull City 0-3 Manchester CityRECAP

The Tigers hung tough, but Man City was too much in the end. A trio of second half goals began with a Yaya Toure penalty won by Raheem Sterling. Then Kelechi Iheanacho tapped one home before Raheem Sterling forced Hull into an own goal.

Arsenal 1-0 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Tony Pulis‘ Baggies were at their defensive best until Olivier Giroud got the better of Gareth McAuley to loop Mesut Ozil’s cross over Ben Foster.

Burnley 1-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

There was a lone moment of brilliance, but Andre Gray‘s finish of a Sam Vokes‘ flick was well worth the wait for the home fans at Turf Moor. Goalkeeper Tom Heaton was again strrong for the Clarets.

Swansea City 1-4 West Ham UnitedRECAP

Bob Bradley‘s inadequate defensive talent isn’t getting the job done, and it’s hard to defend anything about Swans’ PL-worst 41 goals allowed. Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic‘s Irons are finally performing up to expectations. Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll are among the goal scorers for West Ham.

Leicester City 0-2 EvertonRECAP

Kevin Mirallas capitalized on some poor Leicester defending before Romelu Lukaku nailed the coffin shut on the King Power Stadium’s hopes for a happy Boxing Day.

Watford 1-1 Crystal PalaceRECAP

A Troy Deeney PK denied Sam Allardyce a debut win as Crystal Palace boss. Yohan Cabaye gave the Eagles an early lead but then Christian Benteke had a PK saved, as Andros Townsend and Mathieu Flamini earned starts under Allardyce.

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Watch Live: Watford vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups, Stream)

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Watford host Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on Monday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSporrs.com) to kick off the Boxing Day festivities.

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Sam Allardyce will take charge of his first game at Crystal Palace after he replaced the fired Alan Pardew, while Walter Mazzarri looks to bounce back from two-straight defeats for the Hornets.

In team news Watford’s captain Troy Deeney starts on the bench, while Allardyc’s first Palace said is very similar to the XI Pardew was putting out as Mathieu Flamini comes back into the starting lineup.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Kaboul, Prödl, Britos, Holebas; Capoue, Behrami, Guedioura; Amrabat, Ighalo, Janmaat. Subs: Pantilimon, Deeney, Cathcart, Doucouré, Zúñiga, Sinclair, Kabasele

Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly; Flamini, Cabaye; Townsend, Puncheon, Zaha; Benteke. Subs: Speroni, Fryers, Mutch, Husin, Lee, Wan-Bissaka, Campbell.

Three things we learned from Man United’s win vs. Crystal Palace

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LONDON — Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Wednesday as their stars shone.

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A goal and an assist each for the brilliant Paul Pogba and the clinical Zlatan Ibrahimovic did the damage with United making it two wins on the spin to keep themselves in the top four battle.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s what we learned from a slow-burner in south London as Palace remain in relegation trouble.


STARS SHINE FOR UNITED

This is why you pay them the big bucks. Pogba and Ibrhahimovic were the difference in this game and Pogba was particularly sublime in midfield.

He set up Wayne Rooney with a wonderful dinked pass in the first half and then right on the stroke of half time he finished off a cheeky chest down from Zlatan (which appeared to come off his arm) to put United 1-0 up.

Pogba then provide the game-winning assist with two minutes to play as he slotted in Zlatan but the Swedish striker still had plenty to do as he dinked home across goal to make it 2-1.

Jose Mourinho hailed Ibra after the game, saying he never questioned his character and his quality.

With Zlatan now scoring 14 goals in 24 games since arriving in England, plus Pogba putting in a man of the match display, United are figuring this thing out. Sure, they’re still six points off the top four but you can’t argue with Mourinho when he says their performances have been a lot better for a long time.

Now, United is finally get the results their performances deserve. That has a lot to do with Zlatan and Pogba stepping up to show their star quality when it mattered most.


KEY DECISIONS INCORRECT

There were four pivotal moments in this game which referee Craig Pawson got wrong. Very wrong.

After the game Palace’s manager Alan Pardew felt hard done by and Mourinho didn’t want to say anything apart from applaud Pawson. Would he have been doing that had United not grabbed the late winner their dominance deserved? Probably not.

Anyway, for United’s first goal, right on half time, Zlatan looked to have handled and Pogba was offside as he finished. Pawson needed help from his assistants but the referee didn’t get any. He did get plenty of stick from the home fans in the first half as he let tough tackles go from United.

That brings us to the second incident: Marcos Rojo‘s lunging tackle.

Now, Mourinho may say he is “playing phenomenally and is a very clean player” but the evidence suggests otherwise. In United’s 1-1 draw with Everton 10 days ago Rojo was lucky to stay on the pitch after a lunging tackle. He did exactly the same in the first half against Palace as he lunged in with both sets of studs showing on Wilfried Zaha. He should’ve been sent off. Pawson missed it and gave him just a yellow.

Then came two more moments of controversy in the second half as first Joe Ledley blatently handled in the box but no penalty kick was given and then Rojo headed down for Juan Mata to slot home but the offside flag went up.

You can clearly argue all four decisions were wrong and in the end they canceled each other out. Still, not a vintage display from a young, promising referee.


PALACE PUNISHED FOR TIMIDNESS

We know Pardew’s Palace have been struggling for a while, but the way he set his team up spoke volumes of their limitations. They only wanted a draw. Nothing more.

With Mathieu Flamini handed his first start of the season, the Frenchman sat in during the first half and so did the rest of his teammates. Palace barely got out of their own half in the first half which frustrated the home fans and something had to change.

Ledley was brought on at the break which livened up the game and when James McArthur equalized it got interesting for a while. But, yet again, Palace retreated when they were level and United deservedly won.

Heading into the busy festive period Palace now have Chelsea and Arsenal in their next three games. With just 15 points on the board and confidence clearly at an all-time low under Pardew, the Eagles won’t be soaring anywhere other than towards the drop zone as 2016 comes to a close.

It has been a truly dreadful 2016 for the Eagles who have just six wins in the Premier League over the last 12 months. Fresh impetus is needed at Selhurst Park as Wednesday’s lack of belief proved. Is Pardew the man to get the best out of this talented, yet top-heavy, squad?

Crystal Palace 4-1 Stoke City: Potters embarrassed by fluid Palace

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Crystal Palace appeared on the front foot immediately behind the vocal home fans, and they were rewarded immediately. James Tomkins opened the scoring on his full debut in the 9th minute, beating Jonathan Walters to a long free-kick at the back post and touching home.

Scott Dann then picked up the second just two minutes later as Jason Puncheon rifled a blistering cross in from the right edge, and the 29-year-old defender rose high above his mark to power home the header for a stunning 2-0 lead.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors didn’t look to be buoyed by their adversity, instead pushing forward only in small spurts. The game ground to a halt as the first half wore on, and the halftime break came without any more danger on either side. Dann continued to cause problems after the break, seeing yet another powerful header cleared off the line on 52 minutes, very nearly handing Palace a third.

Again Palace should have had a third moments later, but again they were somehow denied at the line. Andros Townsend’s cross sailed over the head of Christian Benteke and right to the feet of Wilfried Zaha, but with the ball bouncing around in front of net, both attackers failed to get a final touch, and the ball was eventually cleared.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Palace finally sealed the game on a free-kick with 18 minutes to go. The ball comes to James McArthur at the top corner of the box, and his shot took a massive deflection off Geoff Cameron and nestled into the back of the net, officially an own-goal with the original effort likely off target.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Townsend put a cherry on top with a quality solo goal, dribbling through the attacking half, touching brilliantly onto his right foot, and passing a curler into the bottom corner for Palace’s fourth. The goal sealed the embarrassing 4-0 scoreline for Stoke City, who still remain on just a single point through five matches.

With the game already out of reach, Stoke struggled to put together a consolation as Wilfried Bony had the goal gaping on 83 minutes following a mistake by Mathieu Flamini, but he overran the ball and saw the chance evaporate. Walters had a chance himself in the final minute, but he fired wide after sending Martin Kelly flying by. They would get one finally at the death as Marko Arnautovic delivered a curler into the top corner.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Meanwhile, the Eagles closer to the top half with their second win of the season, advancing to seven points which pushes them level with four other clubs but ahead of them all on goal difference.