Ah yes, Crystal Palace.

Founded in 1905, this club has been up and down over the course of its history. They have entered administration twice, most recently as 2010. They have been in the Premier League since 2012, which is their longest spell in club history. Back in the 1994/95 campaign, Manchester United’s Eric Cantona infamously dropkicked a fan for threatening him.

The Eagles have been one of those sides that you can never tell which way the match is going to go. A club that in recent years hasn’t been so great at home but has gone on to be a force on the road. Andros Townsend scored the goal of the 2018/19 season against champions Manchester City at the Etihad, finishing the match in a 3-2 win away. They also beat Leicester 4-1 away and Arsenal 3-2 away.

Roy Hodgson is the club’s current manager. He has had a long and distinguished career himself, managing clubs like Liverpool and Inter Milan. He is very much in the English tradition, setting up his sides in a very regimented defensive style. Last season, Palace finished 12th under his guidance, scoring 51 goals and conceding 53. They won nine of their 14 games away from home. This style is unlikely to change, so Palace needs to make sure they are solid at home.

Hodgson is set to manage Crystal Palace in his third season with the club. Credit: Getty Images

The defensive side of the team has already suffered a huge blow. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has left for Manchester United for 45 million Pound, after his breakout campaign. That does leave a lot of money to reinforce, but where will they get these defensive players from?

I would suggest that overall, they need to upgrade the backline. Maybe Matthew Lowton from Burnley to fill in at right-back could be a start? Costing under 12 million Euros would be a fair estimate. Perhaps looking to the Championship for some defenders. Jayden Bogle is a young right-back option from Derby County, having played under Frank Lampard last season. Pontus Jansson could be a center back they could go after in January, having a decent 7.33 average match rating and completing 95 tackles.

The midfield also needs depth, with players who can provide quick passing and defensive output. Kalvin Phillips could be a solid signing for the club, having completed 82.1% of passes and 3.9 tackles and interceptions per 90. He could play in front of the defense with Luka Milivojevic or Cheikhou Kouyate. This would free up Max Meyer, Andros Townsend and Wilfred Zaha going forward on the counter. Being able to have midfielders who can play quickly on the counter is going to maximize Palace’s playstyle to make them better than this previous season.

I think Crystal Palace are one of those teams who go about their business quietly. It’s hard to see where they will sign players from because they don’t broadcast their interests. The biggest concern is Wilfred Zaha. He wants to leave the club and go to Arsenal, but Palace wants a massive fee. If they can convince him to stay another season, he could be motivated to play all out. This could backfire too, with him being upset and not giving the effort. The window is open for about a month longer, so you never quite know.

Will Zaha be in Crystal Palace for the long haul? Credit: MB Media/Getty Images

I would say Crystal Palace finish 13th. They are so good at set pieces, scoring 10 penalties last season. If they can use the Wan-Bissaka money to strengthen the club, they could be a very compact team that is hard to break down. They need to be explosive on the counter, which comes with quick distribution and accuracy.

Christian Benteke said, “I feel really great”, with his preseason starting off with a goal. If he can stay healthy, he will provide that big presence in the box. The last piece is Zaha. If he can be motivated to give his very best in perhaps a final season at Selhurst Park, Palace fans will definitely have something to cheer about this season.

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