2018/19 Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace are entering their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League and they will be aiming to finish in the top half and avoid a relegation battle.

In the 2016/17 season, Palace finished a lowly 14th in the Premier League under Sam Allardyce following the sacking of Alan Pardew around Christmas. However, they improved last season finishing 11th in the Premier League especially when they suffered their worst ever start to the season.
Limited spending and the loss of key players such as Yohan Cabaye have left Palace in a precarious position. However, the addition of Cheikou Kouyate brings more depth to their midfield and some much needed height, too. Max Meyer is expected to be brought in shortly after completing his medical but his announcement is on hold as the German needs international clearance. Jordan Ayew and Danny Ings are also rumoured to be on their way to SE25 which would bolster the Eagles’ forward line.
Wilfried Zaha staying at Palace will be massive in the time leading up to the end of the window and the start of the season. The man was unstoppable last season and his rise in form over the season had fans chanting his name and begging him to ignore the interest from the big teams.
The free signing of Vincente Guaita from Getafe solves the goalkeeping crisis that Palace have had in the last few seasons. Wayne Hennessey has made it hard to win over the fans in South London, but Guaita will offer competition to the Welshman and Palace fans will hope that it will inspire him to improve.
The Eagles will need to improve on their defence if the 2018/19 campaign is going to be ridden of relegation fears and I think that the partnership of Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins will be vital in keeping a sure defence and pushing the South Londoners to a comfortable mid-table finish.

In what areas do Palace need to improve?

The goalkeeping crisis has been solved with the signing of Guaita and Hennessey will be a good back-up when needed.
The defensive duo of Sakho and Tomkins will be crucial and Palace have to make sure that those two remain fit for as long as possible. Tomkins is always a threat from set-pieces which will help the Eagles going forward. Sakho is immense at the back, but he does scare fans a little bit when he tries to be too clever on the ball; it nearly costed Palace a few times last season when they were in front.
When either Tomkins or Sakho were injured last season, Palace really struggled to keep clean sheets. Martin Kelly and Scott Dann had to cover for them and they weren’t as good at the back. Dann has found it hard to rediscover the form that made him a fan favourite at the back for Palace not so long ago. Kelly was always reliable at the start of his Palace career but he has struggled recently and made a few mistakes that led to goals last season.
Palace also relied on Zaha for a lot of their creativity last season and if Palace sign Meyer then that would be huge in improving their attack. Christian Benteke missed a lot of chances last season which led to Zaha playing upfront for the second half of the season. Benteke would get the much-needed service that he was praying for last season with the addition of Meyer soon to come after international clearance has been sorted.

Ings and Ayew could also be on their way to SE25 as Liverpool are looking to offload the Englishman and Ayew is most likely to leave Swansea as he won’t want to play Championship football. Ayew is likely to have a medical soon and according to reports Palace have put in a bid already for Ings. Either signing would be great for Palace in my eyes as it would add depth to the forward line as Benteke is hugely under pressure to deliver goals. Alexander Sorloth and Connor Wickham don’t look quite ready for Premier League football just yet so the addition of Ings or Ayew could be very useful.

Can Palace avoid any relegation troubles over the coming season?

Likely line-up
Zaha is the prized asset for Palace and he will be vital in their efforts to secure a top-half finish. There was so much pressure on him last season to create chances but the weight on his shoulders has been lifted a little bit with the signing of Meyer. The former Schalke man signed for the Eagles on Thursday evening and what a signing he could prove to be in the upcoming season. He is young, has bags of experience in the UEFA Champions League, and his vision on the ball will be helpful in the final third.
The signing of Kouyate will fill the void left by Cabaye leaving and Palace fans can finally feel optimistic this season after a summer of uncertainty around their transfer business.
However, each season that the Eagles have had in the Premier League have been threatened with relegation. There have been some seasons where they’ve just about scraped through and stayed up. This cannot happen this season especially with the quality and depth that they now have in their squad. Palace should finish mid-table this season and Palace fans will hope that they don’t have another injury stricken squad like last season.
I think that Palace will finish in the top-half but only just about. You can never be sure with the Eagles as the fans are yet again going to have to experience a rollercoaster of emotions over the season. This could be their first season without any relegation troubles and that should give the Palace fans optimism. The Eagles will be fine this season and Roy Hodgson will provide the South Londoners with the certainty that they’ll enter their seventh consecutive season.

Prediction: 10th

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