Match CentreOpposition View

View From The Opposition – Crystal Palace, Chelsea

In our final instalment of our Premier League panel series of articles, we cover the final two teams as we hear from one our own on Palace as well as a look at Chelsea.

Chelsea @TheHandsLindsay

Q. What are the fan expectations?

Most fans will demand a route back into the Champions League as a bare minimum but I think we are divided in terms of whether we will have a good season or a bad one. I am certainly on the fence myself. We have a new manager who brings an exciting brand of football but I have concerns over this squad’s ability to play in his style. Personally, signs of progress and a move to long term attacking football will represent a good season for us.

Q. Which position does your team desparately need to improve?

Striker, without a doubt. Olivier Giroud does not get enough goals, question marks remain over Michy Batshuayi, and Alvaro Morata was simply not good enough last term. I was surprised we were not in for Gonzalo Higuain or Anthony Martial.

Q. Name a player from your club that will shine?

Callum Hudson-Odoi, providing he is trusted by Maurizio Sarri. Shone in pre-season and looked lively against Manchester City in the Community Shield. One for the future!

Q. Where will your team finish in the league and how will they do in the cups?

Fith. I think it will be a slow start getting used to Sarri’s methods and we will improve second half of the season, likely falling just short of the top four. I would expect us to take one of the cups though, I have a feeling it could be the Europa League.

Q. Predict the title winners, teams relegated and domestic cup winner?

Manchester City to win back-to-back titles. Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Southampton to go down. Arsenal for the FA Cup.

Q. Your thoughts on Palace and how we will do this season?

I like Palace and enjoyed both trips I have had to Selhurst Park over the years (despite one of those being in Chelsea blowing the title!). I think you have built a solid Premier League squad and I like how Roy Hodgson has got them playing. I doubt you will start as poorly as you did last season but keeping Wilfried Zaha is key. Predicting a mid-table finish and a good FA Cup run.

Crystal Palace @Sam__Carp

Q. What are the fan expectations?

The expectations of a Palace fan fluctuate from week to week, but the recent arrivals of Cheikhou Kouyate and Max Meyer have seen familiar feelings of dread replaced with genuine optimism going into the season-opener against Fulham. Much will still depend on Wilfried Zaha, of course, who remains the one talismanic player capable of single-handedly winning games and bringing joy to an entire pocket of South London in the process.

All that coupled with the way the Eagles finished last season means the majority of Palace fans will be hoping for the team to flirt with the top half this time round. Many will be citing Burnley’s achievements last year as an example of the heights Palace can hope to reach, but anything above tenth would be a bonus.

Q. Which position does your team desperately need to improve?

One week ago I would have said the midfield – and desperately the midfield – but the departures of Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek now appear to have been addressed, while the addition of Vicente Guaita means Palace finally boast a goalkeeper of genuine quality. Despite initial murmurs of discontent, the Eagles have actually now strengthened every area that needed buffing up.

If we are being picky, Palace could still do with another creative type to take some of the heat off of Zaha and Andros Townsend should either of them go off the boil or – God forbid – get injured. Otherwise, the position of right back is one still tinged with a touch of uncertainty, with a lot of faith set to be put in young Aaron Wan-Bissaka given that his back-up, Joel Ward, has struggled to find form over the past year.

Q. Name a player from your club that will shine?

It would be too easy to say Zaha, who can have a bad game by his standards and still find a way of looking like the best player on the pitch.

For that reason I am going to go with Christian Benteke. Many would have expected the Belgian to be sold after last year’s very real nightmare, but it is leading the line again this season. In and amongst some of the misses it was easy to ignore the strengths in his hold-up play, and you would hope that this season might see some of his efforts drop the right side of the post. If his confidence has not been completely eroded then I think we might see something closer to the player who scored fifteen Premier League goals in 2016/17.

Q. Where will your team finish in the league and how will they do in the cups?

I will go middle of the road and say Palace will finish tenth in the league, although I wouldd like to think we will find a slightly less dramatic way of getting there than last season.

The cups are naturally more difficult to predict, and the law of averages would suggest that 2016 was when we blew our chance at lifting a trophy for at least another 25 years. I would vouch that we will suffer a familiar fate at the hands of lower league opposition in the League Cup, but I will back us for a run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Q. Predict the title winners, teams relegated and domestic cup winner?

They might not do it as emphatically as last year, but I fully expect Manchester City to win the title again. Their cross-city rivals appear to have gone backwards over the summer and will continue to do so until freed from Jose Mourinho’s shackles, while Chelsea and Arsenal will spend large parts of the season finding their feet under new management. Liverpool have strengthened and might be the ones to push City close, but I do not see them having the longevity to outlast one of the strongest squads in Europe.

Given how the promoted teams have strengthened – and given that Wolves are a bit of an anomaly – I wouldn’t say there are any obvious candidates for relegation. I do, however, feel that Cardiff will struggle to stay up, while Huddersfield will need to match their fast start from last season if they are to avoid the drop. There’s always one wildcard entry, and I reckon this could be the season that Watford’s luck with managerial bingo finally runs out – although I say that every year.

In terms of the knockout tournaments, I’ll back Spurs to show some nerve and win the League Cup, while City will win the FA Cup to claim a domestic double.

Q. Your thoughts on Palace and how we will do this season?

As I’ve already said, I think Palace are in a position to do fairly well. We’re in a rare state of stability where the manager doesn’t look like leaving and we’ve managed to keep the core of a very decent first team together over the summer. The back four is solid, there are more legs in midfield, and if the end of last season was anything to go by, we’re capable of playing some lovely stuff in the final third these days.

Should injuries creep in again we might experience a slide down the table, but otherwise there’s certainly reason to hope that Palace can launch a very real charge towards the top half this season.



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