Ahead of the visit of reigning champions Manchester City, TEB had a chat with Ric Turner from popular fan group Blue Moon on their season so far and thoughts ahead of the game.
Q. What did you make of the game at the Etihad earlier in the season?
I was extremely impressed with Palace that day. They were one of the few teams to come to the Etihad and actually have a go, rather than putting ten men behind the ball, and reaped the rewards. It was disappointing to lose, but you can’t really legislate for a goal like Townsend’s. It was one of the best goals I’ve seen at our place, and one of the few opposition goals that I’ve actually stood up and applauded.
Q. There is a real feeling that City have their swagger back and will edge the title this season – do the fans feel the same?
I honestly think it’s too close to call. Our destiny is in our own hands, but we undoubtedly have the harder reamining fixtures, including the trip to Selhurst Park. We’re capable of winning all six remaining games, but it’s a big ask with us fighting on other fronts too. I can’t see Liverpool dropping any more points, so think it will go right down to the wire.
Q. Challenging on four fronts in modern day football is considered impossible, but City might just do it, right?
I don’t think any City fans genuinely think that winning the quadruple is realistic. There’s a reason that no-one else has ever done it before! We’d be ecstatic just to win either the league or the Champions League. Anything else is a huge bonus.
Q. Pep Guardiola arrived at City in a blaze of publicity and while he has been a huge success, is there one thing in particular that you have been impressed with?
His attention to detail. He prepares meticulously for every game, regardless of the opposition, and is incredibly thorough in his training methods. Virtually every single player at the club has improved under his leadership.
Q. Who has been the stand out City player this season?
Raheem Sterling is having a great season, and is rightly getting a lot of plaudits but Bernardo Silva has been consistently outstanding in my opinion. He’s become the first name of the team sheet for Guardiola.
Q. Did City do the business they needed to in the transfer window?
Probably not. We rely too heavily on Fernandinho, but he’s 33 now and can’t be expected to play every game. We needed a long term replacement, but having missed out on Jorginho (luckily, with hindsight) we opted to stick with what we had. It’s not hurt us too much this season, as Ilkay Gundogan has stepped up impressively, but if we get a transfer ban we’ll come to regret it.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player for City to sign in the summer, who would it be and why?
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, definitely. He’s looked really good every time I’ve seen Palace this season and ticks a lot of boxes (young, home grown, quick, strong). An outstanding prospect.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
Wilfred Zaha always causes us problems, and Kyle Walker’s injury sustained at the weekend could be problematic although Danilo is a decent back up. Hopefully Leroy Sane can cause similar problems going the other way!
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace this season?
I guess it’s been a decent season for you, with a good cup run and survival guaranteed with five games to spare. If you can keep the squad together, and add a bit more quality in the summer, there’s no reason why you couldn’t challenge for a top-half finish next season.
Q. Your prediction?
Obviously we’re more than capable of winning, but I’m not overly confident to be honest! We struggled at Selhurst Park last year, and you’ve already beaten us this season! Coming between the two Champions League games with Spurs also means we’ll have to rotate. I’m just hoping that your players might be slightly less focussed now that you’re effectively safe after the win at Newcastle. I’ll go for a hard fought 2-1 win for City.