Crystal Palace-Norwich City Preview
The confidence earned from a late-season surge coupled with some sound additions has Crystal Palace eager to return to Premier League action.
They'll open play Saturday at Carrow Road, where Norwich City make their return to the Premier League following a one-season absence.
After Palace underachieved through the first 4 1/2 months of league play last season and even flirted with relegation, Alan Pardew was granted his leave from Newcastle United and replaced manager Neil Warnock in south London on Jan. 2. The Eagles went 10-1-7 under their new boss to earn a 13-9-16 final mark and club-best 10th place Premier League finish. Their 48 points also were the most in club history.
Six of their final 10 victories came on the road, where the Eagles joined Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal as the only teams to finish last season with a positive goal difference (plus-2) away from home.
"We have an exuberance in the team, a momentum and we want to keep that," Pardew told the club's official website.
Dwight Gayle, Glenn Murray and Jason Puncheon combined for 23 goals over all competition.
They'll be joined by veteran midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who comes over from Paris-Saint-Germain and had 17 goals for Pardew at Newcastle from 2012-14. Strikers Patrick Bamford, on loan from Chelsea, and Connor Wickham, who scored 10 goals over the past two seasons for Sunderland, expect to be an upgrade up front.
"We have players with experience of different levels and that's going to show," Pardew said.
Wickham certainly likes the situation he's now part of with Palace.
"I looked at the team before I arrived here and the signings that have been brought in, and the potential to score goals and the chances that could be created was a massive influence," he said. "Hopefully I can add to that talent and make the squad stronger."
Palace are 0-4-4 in Premier League play against Norwich, who return to the top division after finishing third in the Championship and surviving the playoff last season. The Canaries went 30-34-50 during their last Premier League run from 2012-14, but managed only eight of those wins to place 18th in the 20-team league two seasons ago.
"Everybody wants to play in the Premier League," midfielder Wes Hoolahan told Norwich's official website. "We had two good years before relegation so we're looking forward to having another crack at it.
"The Premier League is tough, but we're confident in giving a good account of ourselves."
Though the Canaries have gone winless in their last 12 (0-6-6) league openers, they enter top-flight play feeling confident after going 15-2-5 in their final 22 matches, including the playoff. Under the guidance of promising young manager Alex Neil, Norwich netted 94 goals during the regular season and playoff, with 20 coming from forward Cameron Jerome and 15 by way of midfielder Bradley Johnson.
Summer signings Graham Dorrans and Youssouf Mulumbu - both from West Bromwich Albion - former Baggies defender Andre Wisdom on loan from Liverpool and ex-Hull City midfielder Robbie Brady could provide some experience the Canaries likely need to make their league return a success.
Starting out at home in front of a spirited crowd could help as well.
"With our first game being at home we're hopeful we can put on a good show and carry on from last year," Hoolahan said. "The gaffer is always determined to win and so we know have to give 100 percent every game."