Crystal Palace can reflect on last season with a sense of disappointment despite maintaining their Premier League status. A win at Stamford Bridge – before it became the norm – was cause to be optimistic and The Eagles went into the Christmas period in sixth place, level on points with both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
But then it all went wrong. Palace won two matches during the remainder of the season and took just two points in January, February, and March combined.
It was the club’s worst form since 1998 but fortunately the early season exploits were enough to guide Palace to a 15th place finish. The Eagles this year, can be backed at 9/2 with the likes of 32Red mobile and 10bet to finish in the top ten knowing full well, that consistency across both halves of the season will be paramount to achieving this.
While the club couldn’t buy a win in the Premier League, the FA Cup was a different matter. Victories over Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Watford helped Palace to their first FA Cup final since 1990. Manchester United were the opponents on both occasions and lifted the cup each time.
Palace fans will be hoping that 2016-17 comes a lot closer to the first half of last season than the second.
The squad possesses a strong defence and one of the best midfields of the lower-half Premier League sides. With Yohan Cabaye, James McArthur and Joe Ledley, Palace have four very different players to choose from in the centre of midfield but the squad’s strength undoubtedly lies out wide.
Palace have five fast, powerful, and dynamic wingers to choose from. Jason Puncheon dropped off a little last season but that was mostly down to the form of Bakary Sako and Yannick Bolasie.
The pair struck fear into every defence in the Premier League with their incredible dribbling, pace, and willingness to drive at goal. Wilfried Zaha is also still knocking about and Palace have added Andros Townsend to the list.
The biggest problem area has undoubtedly been the forward position but hopefully new arrivals Christian Benteke and Loic Remy will address that issue.
Elsewhere, there is a lack of depth with goal-shy Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell the only two back up strikers Palace have to choose from at the moment but Pardew did select youngster Freddie Ladapo for a pre-season match in North America.
The 23 year-old signed for the club from non-league football in March but is far from being ready for consistent Premier League action.
The club enjoyed an early pre-season tour to North America and played three matches across the Atlantic. The Eagles secured draws against Vancouver Whitecaps and Philadelphia Union either side of a 2-0 victory over FC Cincinnati in Ohio.
Palace returned to the UK and notched up wins over Colchester United and AFC Wimbledon before a match against Fulham. The Championship side won 3-1, putting an end to The Eagles’ unbeaten pre-season.
Crystal Palace started the summer reasonably well, addressing problem areas with experienced, quality players. Steve Mandanda joined after seemingly spending fifty years at Marseille, and within a few days two more players had joined the Frenchman.
James Tomkins made the move across London for £10 million while Andros Townsend came in from Newcastle for £13 million.
Palace have shown an almost baffling level of ambition with £23 million and £31 million bids for Saido Berahino and Michy Batshuayi respectively.
The Belgian joined Chelsea but the Berahino transfer is still up in the air. West Brom have claimed they will make a decision on the Englishman’s future in the coming days but The Baggies’ recent capture of Tottenham attacking midfielder Nacer Chadli and supposed interest in West Ham striker Diafra Sakho seem to point towards Berahino making a move this summer.
In terms of departures, Palace have seen something of an exodus. Emmanuel Adebayor, Brede Hangeland, and Marouane Chamakh were all released while Dwight Gayle and Alex McCarthy were moved on to Newcastle and Southampton respectively.
August’s capture of Christian Benteke and the loan signing of Loic Remy may turn out to be a huge double-coup for a club left desperately wanting in the striker department.
With news that Saido Berahino could still leave his post at West Bromwich Albion, it’s not out the realms of possibility that the Eagles may also add this forgotten English forward to their ranks.
10th with an additional striker
Crystal Palace to finish in the top 10 – 9/2 with 32Red mobile
Christian Benteke (each way) to win the golden boot – 50/1 with Sporting Bet