The next visitors to Selhurst Park are Bournemouth, so we had a chat with David Codron from the AFCB Sydney Supporters Group about the season so far, the game and much more.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season, now that the dust has settled?
We started our fourth season in the Premier League very well with a “friendly” run of fixtures and sat in the top six after ten games. This gave the fans hope of pushing for a top half finish and some of the more optimistic fans dreams of Europa League football. Unfortunately, that form did not continue and when it came to a difficult run against the big six and other in form teams, our history of capitulating defensively resurfaced and we suffered heavy defeats to Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United. This also coincided with a wretched run of injuries and ultimately our good start coupled with the odd good result here and there in the second half of the season gave us the comfort of not flirting with relegation and drifting into an uninspiring 14th place finish.
Q. What were your hopes for the season and how does that compare with how the season has gone so far?
The hopes for this season was to improve our consistency mainly through solidifying our defensive frailties. The start to the season was much like last season and the defensive resolve had improved (with the exception of the last three games). Unfortunately, our goals have dried up and our most dangerous players last season in Fraser and Callum Wilson have flattered to deceive this season. Our last three losses to Newcastle, Wolves and Tottenham have us moving in the wrong direction again and will need to turn things around pretty quickly in what will be another tough December run of fixtures. If the downturn in form continues it could be a similar story to last season where it fades out to a bottom half finish at best.
Q. Is about time Eddie Howe was given a shot with a big job?
My heart says no and he should stay forever. Realistically, if a top six club comes knocking, it would be hard for him to say no. That being said, those clubs that are looking for new managers are often in trouble and looking for candidates with experience and a proven track record with big clubs to get them out of the hole they are in. (Frank Lampard being the exception). Everton would be the only club I would think Eddie would leave for outside of the top six, as West Ham are a bit of a toxic club at the moment, with a huge disconnect between the board and the fans. Eddie has been extremely fortunate to have a harmonious relationship with our chairman and owner to do what he wants at the club. Whether he gets that same sort of freedom at another club is unknown and the risk is he ends up like David Moyes.
Q. How was the summer transfer window for the club? Were all needs addressed?
Our biggest need (or so we thought) was a goalkeeper. We didn’t sign one but that ended up being a blessing in disguise as Aaron Ramsdale has made the starting spot his own and can see him being our keeper for a long time. We strengthened our central midfield with Philip Billing, who along with Jefferson Lerma has helped rectify our previous light-weight midfield. Conversely, it probably has also contributed to the reduction in our attacking output as both players are more combative than creative. The other two signings were Arnaut Danjuma, a winger who has impressed on his few chances and Lloyd Kelly who was the victim of a pre-season injury combined by an improvement by Diego Rico holding down the left-back position.
Q. The introduction of VAR this season has not gone to plan so far – what is your view of the system and how it is being used?
VAR was always going to have a negative effect when it came to stoppages and the impact of “waiting to celebrate” but ultimately every sport uses technology to get decisions right and remove human error as much as possible. That said, the Premier League have implemented it in the worst possible way. They need to have those reviewing the decisions accountable by broadcasting the reasons for the decision. This should be done at least for television viewers but probably also for those inside the stadium. If the decision is not obvious, then the referee should be encouraged to go to the pitch side monitor and make his decision with the aid of replays, whilst also articulating the reasoning for his decision. If stoppages already take three minutes for the VAR room to watch replay after replay in silence, it won’t add much more time for the referee to go to the monitor, watch a few replays and then make a decision.
Q. One to watch for Bournemouth this season?
I think Arnaut Danjuma is the most exciting new attacking threat this season but our most dangerous players would be Josh King and David Brooks (both currently injured). The one to watch would be set pieces though, seems to be our most dangerous threat to opponents this season.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
If he could transform his goals against us record into goals for us, I would choose Scott Dann. But seriously, the answer would obviously be Wilfried Zaha. The pace, his directness and eye for goal. Clearly the most talented player on your team and one of the best players outside a top six club.
Q. Which Bournemouth player do Palace need to keep an eye on in the game?
Once again, I’d probably say Danjuma. He seems to have overtaken Fraser as our biggest threat down the wings. That being said, Fraser and Callum Wilson possess the ability to turn around their form slump and be a handful for opposing players. (I’m just waiting patiently for that to happen)
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on what you expect from Palace this season?
Palace are well positioned at the moment to have a successful season. Your defeats have only really been against teams up the top end of the table. Looking at your Christmas schedule, you have a lot of winnable games and if you can put a consistent run of form together, a top half finish could be on the horizon. If you are to do that, hopefully you only start that after Tuesday.
Q. Your prediction?
I’ll say 1-1 but I’m not very confident in our ability to score at the moment and Zaha and the “dangerous” Scott Dann always causes us problems, so I think it will be a difficult night for us.