The Premier League season draws to a close on Sunday afternoon and win, lose or, draw, it’s been quite the season for the boys in red and blue.
Palace started the season with the first opening day points since an away win at Norwich in 2015, beating newly promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage. Since that victory, it has been a “typical Palace” season of peaks and valleys. Monumental victories and head scratching performances. Amazing goals scored and blissfully boring nil-nil draws. If there is one way to describe the 2018/19 season it’s to expect the unexpected.
Let’s take a quick moment and take a stroll down memory lane shall we?
Starting with the highlights of the season:
Since that opening day victory over Fulham, Palace have enjoyed some amazing away performances this season. They secured their first ever point at Manchester United in late November. Picked up the result of the season at the Etihad with victory over Manchester City (also, with City concluding their home schedule this week, Palace were the only visiting team to pick up any points at all on City’s home turf. Quite impressive in it’s own right). Palace also won at Arsenal for the first time since 1994 and were the only visiting team to score three goals at Anfield this season. In fact, there were only two clubs massive enough to score more than two goals against Liverpool this season. Palace was one of those clubs…..Barcelona was the other. Decent company to be in I’d say.
There were also so great individual performances this season as well.
Wilfried Zaha scored 10 goals in the Premier League for the first time in his career. Couple that with the three official assists along with the five penalties that he has drawn and subsequently put into the back of the net by Luka Milivojevic and it’s been a great season for the Palace talisman.
Speaking of Luka, our fearless captain has scored a team high (as of writing) 12 goals this season with 10 of those coming from the penalty spot. That’s FIFTH in the entire Premier League for midfielders in goals scored. (The Fantasy Premier League counts Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling as midfielders, but I do not.) Luka finds himself ahead of the likes of West Ham’s Felipe Anderson and City’s Leroy Sane. He has once again kept Palace afloat with his stellar penalty scoring and solid play in the deep midfield.
Our star man on the right, Andros Townsend, scored what should be the Premier League goal of the season, if not the Puskas Award winner. Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins formed one of the best center-back pairings in the league before injuries derailed both their seasons. Vicente Guaita had as many clean sheets as David de Gea and Lukasz Fabianski and he only played half of the season. And I haven’t even mentioned how outrageously good Aaron Wan-Bissaka was this season. I heard a stat that only eight times this season a player has managed to dribble past him. EIGHT! That’s it.
Although it wouldn’t be a Palace season without experiencing the lowest of lows that a fan can feel.
And boy was that week in mid-December pretty, pretty low. It wasn’t only losing to Brighton and West Ham in a five day span, it was how terribly uninspired Palace looked. Lethargic and seemingly uninterested, Palace dropped both games to bitter rivals. Later in the season Brighton pulled a rabbit out of their hat and Anthony Knockart scored a cracker to sink Palace at Selhurst Park. Those six points were vital to Brighton as they escaped relegation for this season. At the time it wasn’t funny, but now that Palace will finish 10 points ahead of our rivals, we can say “mind the gap” with confidence.
The fortress that was Selhurst Park is no longer such.
The only team this season with a worse home record than Palace are league bottom dwellers Huddersfield. In fact, since their promotion year in 2013, Palace have only scored more than 21 points at home in two of the six seasons. Their best home record was that promotion year when they secured 27 points at home. Last season was the second best home record with 26 points. Other than those two aforementioned seasons, Palace have finished in the bottom five of the league in home form. Three of those seasons they were in the bottom three. Literally the only reason we continue to stay in the Premier League is our amazing away form.
With all of that being said, there is still one final game this Sunday.
Even with Palace being safe for playing in a record seventh Premier League season, there is still plenty to play for. For starters, a record number of points in a season could be achieved. With a win on Sunday, it would take Palace up to 49 points which would better the previous best of 48 points.
Also with a win coupled with a West Ham loss at Watford, Palace would move into 11th place in the table. It may not seem like much, but last season each place on the table was worth an extra two million pounds. That could mean the difference in putting us over the hump in signing a new striker that hopefully will score goals for us next season.
The skipper could also tie or even perhaps break a Premier League record. With one penalty scored, Luka would tie Palace’s own Andrew Johnson with his 11th penalty of the season. Two penalties would break the all time single season mark of penalties scored in the Premier League.
There is also one very personal reason as to why this season has been the most special Palace season to date.
My son was born on April 16th. He has deep blue eyes and Palace in his heart, even if he doesn’t know it yet. I can’t wait to pass on my obsession of a club I know little about in a sport I know less about. I can’t wait to dress him up on game days next year and wake up him from naps by yelling expletives at my TV. Most of all, I can’t wait to bring him to the Mecca that is Selhurst Park when he is old enough and experience my obsession in person.
I’ll leave you with this fun fact. Since my son was born, Palace are undefeated and have picked up 7 points in the process. They’ve won at Arsenal for the first time since I was 7 and Christian Benteke actually scored a goal. I’m not saying my son is the reason for all of this, but I’m also not NOT saying it either.
UP THE PALACE!!!