What does Crystal Palace’s Premier League 2018/19 season look like?
Crystal Palace have been perennial relegation strugglers ever since they entered the Premier League back in the 2013/14 season. Since then, the club have been through a series of managerial changes, but they finally seem to have landed the right man in Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson arrived to replace Frank De Boer (just five games into his tenure) in September last year, and while results didn’t take an immediate turn, the Eagles made considerable progress under him. The veteran Englishman steadied the Palace ship, became a positive influence for the team and helped the players regain their confidence.
Hodgson guided the team to safety, eventually finishing 11th. Four wins from five to end the season put a real shine on Palace’s last campaign after an awful start under De Boer. After a brilliant finish last season, the main question arises – can the Eagles build on from it?
Palace genuinely have one of the most talented squads in the Premier League but a bit more depth was certainly needed, particularly in the attacking half. Yohan Cabaye’s departure earlier this summer meant the Eagles needed a creative force in the midfield to replace him.
Enter Max Meyer on a free transfer from Schalke. Long considered as one of Germany’s most exciting prospects, Meyer will add creativity to a Palace side that struggled for goals last season.
Cheikhou Kouyate has arrived from West Ham as well and the Senegalese will bring power and bite to the midfield. He can also play in the defence which adds more value to his name.
At the other end of the pitch, the Eagles have brought in Spanish goalkeeper Vicente Guaita on a free transfer from Getafe to compete with Wayne Hennessey.
Cabaye has signed for UAE club Al-Nasr upon expiry of his Palace contract, while the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Timothy Fosu Mensah have returned back to their clubs following the end of their loan spells.
Damien DelaJaroslawrosaw Jach, Chung-Yong Lee, Diego Cavalieri and Bakary Sako have also moved out of Selhurst Park.
Key Player: Wilfried Zaha
So far so good, Palace have done a brilliant job by keeping hold of their talismanic forward, Wilfried Zaha. An awful lot will depend on Zaha whose importance to the side cannot be explained.
The Eagles failed to gain a single point in any of their games without the speedy Ivorian last season, and his pieces of individual brilliance have single-handedly dragged the club through games on numerous occasions.
If Palace do manage to keep hold of their prized asset, he would undoubtedly be their pivotal figure in the upcoming season. Zaha is a fantastic player blessed with explosive pace and trickery and on his day, he can be seriously devastating. He is their creative force and the player who can be relied upon as far as the attacking department is concerned.
Hodgson’s boys cannot afford to have a slow start in the Premier League this time around or they run the risk of never catching up. If they get off to a steady start, much will depend on their consistency and how the team shapes up as the season wears on. Zaha’s form and presence will be absolutely crucial but he will need his teammates to step up and fight for the cause.
Palace must be highly competitive with the players they have brought in this summer. However, there still remains an air of uncertainty and that’s why having a slow start is next to disaster.
Predicted finish: 12th
Hodgson could do well by aiming for a top-half finish but his priority should be to get to that magic 40-point mark quicker this time.