By 90Min
August 08, 2019

Crystal Palace kick off their new Premier League season with a tricky home game against Everton, as they look to secure yet another campaign of safety. 

Having finished 12th last season with 49 points, Palace come into their seventh consecutive season in the top flight off the back of a tricky summer. 

With just three new arrivals and key players linked with the exit door at Selhurst Park, manager Roy Hodgson could be facing his toughest season yet in south London. 

Here's everything you need to know about the Eagles ahead of the new season.


Last Season 

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A pleasingly comfortable one for Palace fans! 2018/19 may have gotten off to a rotten start, with just three wins from the opening 16 matches, but the Eagles were able to come in to their own in the second half of the season. 

A pretty nifty away record saw them record nine wins and take some noteworthy scalps. Victories over Arsenal, Leicester City and most impressively of all, Manchester City, brought plenty of cheers for the club's travelling support and compensated for some pretty dire home form. 

Wilfried Zaha enjoyed his best ever season in Palace colours, notching 10 goals in 36 games and terrified full backs up and down the land with his electric pace and dazzling feet. Oh and Andros Townsend also won the Goal of the Season award for one of the finest volleys you are likely to see, during that aforementioned victory over City.


Pre-Season

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It's not been great for Palace in pre-season to be honest. Back in July, Hodgson took his squad over to a Swiss training camp in a trip which incorporated friendlies against FC Luzern and BSC Young Boys. A 1-1 draw and 2-0 defeat respectively was hardly anything to write home about and things, sadly, didn't get much better when they returned to England. 

An academy XI was heavily beaten at Barnet 6-2, before the senior squad fell to Nottingham Forest 1-0 and laboured to a 2-2 draw at third tier AFC Wimbledon. A big win finally came away at Bristol City, with the Eagles romping to a 5-0 victory, but a 4-0 home defeat to Bundesliga outfit Hertha BSC rounded off their new season preparations. 

Max Meyer has at least looked sharp in pre-season, whilst youngster David Boateng caught the eye as he bids to force his way in to the first team for the coming campaign.


Transfers In 

Journeyman keeper Stephen Henderson was brought in on a free transfer at the start of the window, and will provide cover for Wayne Hennessey this season. 

Outfield, 27-year-old Ghanaian forward Jordan Ayew made his loan switch from Swansea City permanent, in a move reportedly worth around £2.5m. Veteran defender Gary Cahill joined on a free after he was released by Chelsea at the end of last season and on the eve of transfer deadline day, Hodgson was able to add exciting Spanish attacking midfielder Victor Camarasa to his ranks.


Transfers Out 

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The big summer departure, so far, was Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The 21-year-old right-back completed a headline grabbing transfer to Manchester United last month, with Palace pocketing £50m from the deal. 

Veteran goalkeeper and club legend Julian Speroni ended his 15 year affiliation with the club, after the 39-year old was released from his contract. 

Elsewhere, Jason Puncheon was released, Bakary Sako joined Turkish side Denizlispor on a free and Pape Souare departed for Troyes of the French second tier. Norway international Alexander Sørloth has also joined Trabzonspor on a season-long loan deal.


Strengths

Mamadou Sakho,Aleksandar Mitrovic

Palace conceded 53 Premier League goals last season - just one fewer than Manchester United, for context.


In fact, only Newcastle conceded fewer goals in the bottom half of the league during the 2018/19 season. In terms of clean sheets, the club ranked an impressive sixth overall with 12 shut-outs for the campaign, a stat which proved so crucial to their strong second half of the season run. 

The Eagles have some experienced heads in their defensive set up too. The likes of Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Patrick van Aanholt and Cheikhou Kouyate are all able to provide discipline, aerial dominance and solid rearguard know-how for the coming season. 

The addition of Gary Cahill to this tough defensive core should only enhance their defensive capabilities in 2019/20. 


Weaknesses

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It's the other end of the field that should be of some concern to Palace fans. Their tally of 51 goals last season is by no means a disgrace, but when you consider that just 28 of those came from open play and only 19 goals were registered at home all season, a stark lack of creativity is obvious. 

There is also a worrying dependency on Zaha to bail them out of any trouble. In fact, the Eagles' 1-0 home victory over Leicester City in December last season, was the first time in a staggering 812 days, that they managed a win, without the Ivorian on the pitch. 

Hodgson will hope that some of his other senior attacking players, Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend to name two, can also chip in and lessen the load on their star man on the wing. 


Key Man 

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Palace's best and most sought after player is by far and away, Wilfried Zaha. The Ivory Coast international's future is unclear, after handing in a transfer request - but being him out of the clutches of Arsenal and Everton is essential.

A record of 10 goals and 10 assist last season tells you all you need to know about how crucial the speedy winger is to Palace's fortunes. Furthermore, a lack of major transfer activity puts the onus on Zaha yet again. If Palace are to enjoy comfort in mid-table for a third consecutive season, they will need their man settled and back on his best form in 2019/20. 

Potential Breakout: David Boateng was impressive in Palace's summer friendlies and looks to have the right strength on the ball, as well as mobility, to break the lines from a naturally deep position in front of the back four. He could adapt well to the physicality of the Premier League. 


Predictions

Alex Broadway/GettyImages

After two seasons of progress and impressive mid-table finishes under Roy Hodgson, this campaign could be the trickiest one yet for the 71-year-old. 

A lack of investment in the squad will not help, as plenty of clubs around them continue to strengthen for the new season. Much will depend on whether Zaha is settled and at his best, with the 26-year-old unsettled.

Hodgson's experience, his cohort of tough veterans and a mean defensive record should see them safe again for another season. However, a slip into the bottom five could be on the cards if their star man departs.

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