Last Season’s Position: 15th
Current Manager: Alan Pardew
2016/17 Crystal Palace Season Preview
With the start of the new Premier League season just over a week away, it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for Crystal Palace.
Positives from Last Season
Crystal Palace broke their transfer record in summer of 2015. They managed to attract French international Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint-German for a fee of £10 million. With manager Alan Pardew having worked with Cabaye whilst manager of Newcastle United, he was able to secure the midfielder’s quality to his squad.
Palace started the season in imperious form, including wins away at both Chelsea and Liverpool, and were fifth going into 2016. As Palace’s league form dropped away in 2016 the focus shifted to the FA Cup as Pardew led Palace to their second ever FA Cup Final. As with their first cup final appearance in 1990 – which Pardew took part in as a player – Palace faced Manchester United. Palace scored first through Jason Puncheon, but were unable to hang on as United won in extra time.
Weaknesses from Last Season
Goals were in short supply in 2015/16 for Crystal Palace with only West Bromwich Albion and relegated Aston Villa scoring fewer over the course of the season.
Injuries to key players also had an effect on Palace’s fortunes. James McArthur suffered an ankle ligament injury against Bournemouth in February which saw him miss the rest of the season. Winger Yannick Bolasie missed most of the second half of the season with a calf injury.
The overall lack of goals, and an ever mounting injury list saw a dramatic downturn in Palace’s form. Not winning a game between their victory over Stoke on December 19th and their win over Norwich on April 9th, saw Palace slip from challenging for a European place to the edge of a relegation battle. They eventually steered clear of the drop zone finishing 15th.
Alan Pardew has looked to move quickly in the transfer market this summer, tying up deals for Andros Townsend for a new club record fee. James Tomkins was also brought in from West Ham United as was French international goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from Marseille.
However, it has been in his pursuit of goals where Pardew has been truly ambitious, if not yet successful. Palace agreed a £31 million fee for Belgian international Michy Batshuayi with Marseille. However, the player opted for a move to London rivals Chelsea. Palace have also been linked with £20 million+ bids for Liverpool striker Christian Benteke and West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino. Neither of whom have arrived in South London at this time. With the release of Emmanuel Adebayor and Marouane Chamakh coupled with the sale of Dwight Gayle to Newcastle, Palace are currently lacking depth up front. They will need to bring in reinforcements before the transfer window shuts on 31st August.
Alan Pardew gave an interview this week to the Croydon Advertiser telling them “I feel we are nowhere near where we want to be at this moment. Not everyone is going to be up to speed so it’s going to affect the first game a little bit.”
Palace have been affected somewhat by circumstances. Pardew may not have anticipated having five players involved in the semi finals of Euro 2016; two of which were then involved in the final. This means that they will all have reported back for training later than the rest of the squad. Pardew would clearly have liked to get a new striker in earlier in pre-season. The deals have not materialised as fast as Palace’s signings in other positions.
Players to look out for
Scott Dann – The new club captain has been a rock in defence since signing from Blackburn Rovers in 2014. He formed a solid partnership with Damien Delaney. Dann has produced form that had his manager suggesting Roy Hodgson should consider him on the England squad. Should Dann continue his form in to this season, Hodgson’s successor, Sam Allardyce, may well be tempted to act where his predecessor didn’t. With new signing James Tomkins joining Palace, Dann will look to lead by example and with strong performances whoever he lines up alongside.
Joel Ward – Crystal Palace’s versatile full back has been one of their top performers since he joined the club in 2012. He may not garner as may headlines as Bolasie, Wilfred Zaha or Cabaye; however he is one of the most consistent players in the Premier League. Primarily a right back, Ward has also filled in at left back and even central midfield. Still only 26, Ward has the peak of his career ahead of him. He is another player Sam Allardyce should run the rule over this season.
Liverpool 22nd April, Manchester City 6th May, Manchester United 21st May
Crystal Palace have trips to Anfield, The Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford for their final three away games of the season. At a time of year where every point is crucial The Eagles will need to be at their best in the run in to ensure they have the best chance of picking up points in three very tricky away ties.