Five Talking Points from the Crystal Palace Pre-Season

As Frank De Boer prepares to manage Crystal Palace in their fifth straight season in the O
Premier League, he has much to consider from pre-season. The Dutchman is looking to re-shape the team’s style of play and change the formation. Whether these changes have worked so far, however, is another matter entirely.

Five Talking Points from the Crystal Palace Pre-Season

Should De Boer play three at the back?

When Palace played their first game in the Premier league Asian Cup against Liverpool, many were surprised at the change in formation from Palace’s typical 4-2-3-1 to a three-at-the-back structure. Carrying through to the final pre-season game against Schalke, the team still does not look comfortable with the new change in tactics.

The new system makes sense as far as the squad boasts an impressive number of strong win-backs, including Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Schlupp and Joel Ward, as well as Andros Townsend, who is more than comfortable in the role. The trouble is that the team are currently struggling to adapt to the new set-up, and if that continues into the season, results will suffer.

Should Jason Lokilo be given a chance in the Premier League?

Eighteen-year-old Jason Lokilo clearly impressed De Boer in the first game of pre-season against Maidstone playing for the under-23s, as he was surprisingly on the team sheet for the first team’s next game against Metz. He started off shakily but as the game developed, he seemed to play his own game and settle in more, playing an outstanding free kick into the path of Luka Milivojevic, only for him to hit the post with Metz defenders scrambling across their goal line.

Once again, Lokilo started for Palace in a home game against Schalke. From the early stages of the match, he struggle to keep hold of the ball and showed that needs to up his game in the physical department if he is to reach his potential. Despite this, Lokilo also had some good spells in the game, taking corners and completing some successful dribbles.

Lokilo is yet to show that he is ready for the heights of the Premier League, but he looks like he will make it sooner rather than later if he removes the small flaws from his game. Expect him to make at least a few appearances in the first team this season.

Should Luka Milivojevic be playing centre-back?

Another surprise in the early game against Liverpool was the position of new Palace favourite Luka Milivojevic. Instead of playing in midfield as usual, he instead became a part of the Palace back three alongside Scott Dann and Damien Delaney. It’s fair to say that he did seem at ease in that position and even admitted this himself.

On paper, Milivojevic has all the makings of a good centre-back; he is tall, good at passing, and very physically imposing. If De Boer needs him in this position, it should not be a problem if he is given time to develop in the role. Despite this, his ability to contribute going forward will be wasted in such a deep role. If the Eagles manage to sign Calum Chambers, there’s a very good chance Milivojevic will reclaim his place in midfield.

Potential Departures

Notably, Jonny Williams, Jordon Mutch, and Yohan Cabaye did not consistently appear for Palace throughout pre-season. Mutch and Williams played for the youth team in the majority of their games, which suggests that neither is in the manager’s plans. Mutch has not played a major role at Palace for some time, so his departure would be no surprise, but Williams has been something of a fan-favourite in recent years.

The other absence in Yohan Cabaye is a strange one because, so far as anyone knows, he is not injured and he is too important to the first team not to feature. With rumours circulating about a switch to Marseille, his lack of playing time in pre-season could mean that he has played his last game in a red and blue shirt.

Future Signings

Many players have been linked with the Eagles across the summer, including Calum Chambers, Robin Van Persie and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Any signings made from now on will not have a chance to settle in before the season begins on August 12th now that pre-season is over. Regardless, it is clear that some new faces must appear at Palace soon. De Boer himself has admitted this, and the club must act sooner rather than later if they are to have a squad which is ready to compete in the Premier League.

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