Opposition view: Crystal Palace

By Ric Turner, Fri 27 December 2013 14:44

Opposition view: Crystal PalaceMatt from the Five Year Plan fanzine gives us the lowdown on tomorrow's opposition

What are your expectations for this season?

I think most Palace fans appreciate what a tough season this is going to be and most are just happy to go along with the ride, take a few scalps here and there and try to enjoy themselves. In terms of position though, I think we've got to be happy with 17th. Avoiding relegation is not the expectation, it is the hope, but as long as the players give it a real go and battle away, I can't ask for any more.

Are you happy with the manager?

The jury is still out on Tony Pulis. Although he has never been relegated in a 17-year managerial career, the former Stoke boss wasn't the first choice of many supporters. So far so good for Pulis though, results have picked up and so have performances. I'll wait and see how we're playing and where we are at the end of the season, but I'm fairly indifferent towards him. I would have preferred a younger manager in all honesty, but I'll back Pulis whilst he is at the club.

Who are your key players?

The first name that stands out as a key player has got to be Joel Ward. The right-back has consistently performed to a high standard, and his versatility is also useful. It's possible that he may be put into central midfield again due to injuries in that position to other players. Should he get onto the pitch then another player to look out for is diminutive Jonny Williams. The midfielder is nicknamed Joniesta as his style of play is similar to that of Barcelona playmaker Iniesta. The ball sticks to his feet like glue, and his clever footballing brain belies his tender years. Marouane Chamakh will return from suspension and he has been instrumental in Palace's creativity, holding the ball up superbly and bringing others into play, he's one to look out for. 

Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?

Realistically, Palace spent too much money on too many players in the transfer window. It disrupted the harmony that had been so important in gaining promotion, and results reflected this. The acquisition of Dwight Gayle for £6m was a hefty purchase, and perhaps too much, but the boy has talent and potential, demonstrated by a stunning goal at Aston Villa. The signing of Chamakh on huge wages seems to have paid off, likewise the bargain buy Barry Bannan from Villa for £750k, but Jimmy Kebe, Mariappa, Jerome and a most bizarre signing of Elliot Grandin, have all failed to impress. All in all, it was a poor transfer window, but hopefully lessons have been learned, particularly with Iain Moody coming in from Cardiff to oversee transfers..

Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?

Unfortunately, promotion to the Premier League has prevented the youngsters from being given opportunities that may have arisen in the Championship. The aforementioned Jonny Williams may still be slightly under the radar despite impressive performances for Wales. Palace supporters, and coaches have high hopes for the Welsh wizard, who was being talked about as the best academy product for years, despite the form of Wilfried Zaha. Sullay KaiKai has been in stunning form for the development squad, with seven goals in four matches and Tony Pulis has rewarded him with a place in the squad for a couple of matches this season. A set-piece specialist, KaiKai may be one to look out for should he make the bench. Hiram Boateng is still only 17, a well built strong defensive midfielder who debuted in the FA Cup last year and took to the game like a duck to water, he could make his Premier League debut from the bench given our midfield injury concerns. 

Your Achilles heel?

I suppose our Achilles heel would be our abysmal ball retention. Possession is imperative in the Premier League and Palace just don't seem to want it! Passes tend to go astray a little too easily and then you're chasing the game instead of dictating the play. If we can improve our ball retention then we should pick up some more points.

If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?

Haha, that's a question and a half. I can only pick one? OK then, I'm a big fan of Edin Dzeko. A target man who can score goals, but also bring others into play and create chances.

What is your perception of City as a club?

Some people tend to look at Man City and think of the club as a typical Premier League side with no atmosphere, no values and no morals almost; blinded by the money from their billionaire owners. I must admit that in the past I have shared that view through ignorance, but looking back at the history of the club, I have more respect for City than neighbours Man United. There's a core group of supporters who have been there through the bad times and deserve to enjoy some success. The Premier League tends to suck the life out of the true meaning of supporting a football club, but to be fair to them, City supporters have done their best to resist this. 

Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?

Palace's starting line-up depends on whether our monstrous injury list improves... but it will be something like this

Parr, Gabbidon, Delaney, Mariappa
Ward, Jedinak, 
Bolasie Bannan Puncheon

There's no doubt that this is going to be one of Palace's toughest fixtures this season, but I think we can find a goal from somewhere, and with our rigid defensive style of play it's entirely conceivable that we can keep the deficit low. I'll plump for a 3-1 home victory, but a respectable Eagles performance.