2019/20 Crystal Palace Premier League preview
Background image: ChristalPalace, CC BY-SA 3.0
Crystal Palace’s odyssey to break into the Premier League’s top-half remains a never-ending journey. After narrowly missing out on a top-ten finish last season, the Eagles have done very little to keep up with the competition. As more departures than incomings threaten their pre-season window, the road ahead is a daunting one, unless things change.
Roy Hodgson’s side endured a very topsy-turvy 2018/19 season. Certain monumental highs were clouded with disappointing lows. Palace became the top-four sides’ bogey team due to their unpredictability, which stung both Manchester City, as well as Arsenal, at Eastlands and The Emirates respectively. Wilfried Zaha shone through as the undisputed star with his dazzling work week in, week out.
The Ivorian winger showed snazzy movement, trickery and a terrific eye for goal - always ensuring Eagles fans were up on their feet celebrating his brilliant work. He was complimented perfectly by Andros Townsend, whose long-range threat along with dangerous crosses had opponents scurrying towards their own goal. Luka Milivojevic commanded the midfield line, while his masterful penalties helped him discreetly become Palace’s top-scorer last season, with 12 goals.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s terrific defensive traits caught worldwide attention, while James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho influenced the back-line strength with their powerful work. Vicente Guaita also made a bright impression with his solid reflexes, keeping seven clean-sheets in his debut season at Selhurst Park.
To the Eagles’ dismay, their youth academy lad has opted to live his dream out at Manchester United. While Steve Parish made big bucks off the sale, he now sees his team without a proper right-back to rely upon. Zaha is also urging for a move out of South London. When you get such a big spotlight, who wouldn’t crave for a European dream?
Christian Benteke isn’t going to stop being a misery anytime soon and despite their best efforts to sell him, the Belgian won’t budge from moving down his healthy salary. Townsend, thankfully, is ignoring any interest as he looks set upon taking Zaha’s mantle in turning into the Glaziers’ new hero.
When it comes to arrivals, Jordan Ayew has been signed permanently for £2.5million in a deal which has left many scratching their heads. Considering the 27-year-old scored only two goals in twenty-five appearances last season, he’s no better than Benteke, is he? Former Nottingham Forrest goalkeeper Stephen Henderson has signed on a free, perhaps as a back-up for Guaita.
Alexander Sorloth and Jaroslaw Jach both return from their loan spells, but considering their failures in England are highly improbable to feature. On the outgoing front, the Eagles relieved Bakary Sako, Jason Puncheon and Julian Speroni off their duties in the summer, while Michy Batshuayi returned to parent club, Chelsea. The major transfer news involved their star right-back Wan-Bissaka who headed to Old Trafford.
Parish received a record £49.5 million for the 21-year-old but is yet to re-invest that sum back into the squad. Palace's net-spend this summer currently lies at a profit of £47million. It’s like Parish milking the cash-cow but refusing to share the treats with Hodgson. Speaking of the oldest manager in the Premier League, he’s now moving into his third season in charge of his childhood club. His hair gets whiter, skin wrinklier, but his fire isn’t defusing anytime soon.
To his credit, he’s done a relatively decent job despite not being given the most luxurious resources. He’s got the absolute best out his players and operated fearlessly against top opposition. Moreover, a fast-paced, attacking style has also been integrated even though his defensive work’s been compromised occasionally. Moving into his third season, the solid foundations he’s implemented probably ensures him sticking around for as long as he wants.
If the former England manager manages to get them a top-half spot without Zaha and Wan-Bissaka, he might as well receive a lifetime contract. The Eagles faithful must be hungrier than ever to break that top-10 curse; considering the Glaziers have never broken into the top-half since the Premier League inception into in 1992.
Realistically, with the departures, the Eagles will hope to avoid a relegation battle and get up as far as possible. A potential trip to Wembley, be it in the FA Cup semi-finals or Carabao Cup finals, will also fill the fans' appetite.
Palace face Everton at home in the first game and with Zaha being strongly linked to the Toffees, they could be vexed by the beast they created. However, considering they only won five home games last season, Hodgson’s side desperately needs an emphatic start to make Selhurst Park a fortress again.
Trips to Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal while hosting champions Manchester City are tough early games. Unless Parish comes up with the necessary signings, Roy Hodgson’s biggest fears may come true, derailing their season very early on...