The first week of 20 Days of the Premier League concludes with Crystal Palace, last year’s 14th-place finishers.
The Eagles made some serious changes this summer and are looking to secure their first top-10 finish in the history of the Premier League, having finished between 10th and 14th every year since they were promoted in 2013.
A Season of Mediocrity
Palace was in either 13th or 14th for all but one day in 2021, failing to find consistency from their front-men while conceding the third-most goals in the entire league.
Wilfried Zaha led the club with 11 goals while Christian Benteke pitched in with another 10, although the next closest player was Eberechi Eze with four. These three were the only members of the roster that looked as if they had any sort of drive or desire throughout most of the campaign, and the team struggled as a result.
Roy Hodgson’s pragmatic approach failed as opponents broke down Palace almost any way they wanted: through the air, down the middle, or on the flanks. They did well to maintain distance between themselves and the teams battling to avoid relegation, but the club’s performances were uninspiring, to say the least.
Crystal Palace’s biggest issue was finding ways to hunker down and produce results against bigger teams, only managing to take six points off of the top-six finishers in the league.
Exciting Transfer News
If there was ever a time to get excited by offseason moves, it is now: Crystal Palace appointed one of the Premier League’s best-ever players and three-time league winner, Patrick Vieira, as manager, which immediately raised expectations for the club. They also signed a pair of center-backs, Marc Guehi and Joachim Anderson, that are young and have lots of potential moving forward.
19-year-old Michael Olise was also brought over from Reading after he scored seven times and assisted 12 goals in 44 Championship-league games last season, a decent bit of business that only cost the club $10.23 million.
Conor Gallagher of Chelsea was also recently secured on a season-long loan after he impressed with West Bromwich in their return to the Premier League last season.
Crystal Palace also marked their intentions of becoming a young, exciting side by selling four senior members with an average age of 31.25, paving the way for the new generation of Eagles.
Expectations for the Coming Season
Realistically, Crystal Palace still does not have a bonafide mid-table squad and could struggle underneath the management of an unproven leader in Vieira. However, they could also shock the world with a brand-new, prolific style of play that is easy on the eyes; that remains to be seen.
What is known is that while the depth in the Premier League has increased, the “guaranteed” top-half finishers’ list has shrunk with Tottenham and Spurs struggling. There are at least three positions inside the top half that are wide open, and Palace should be targeting them.
They have a rough start with matches against Chelsea, West Ham, Spurs, and Liverpool in their first five outings, but should be able to stabilize heading into the new year; from there, the true capabilities of the squad will be understood.
Finishing inside the top-10 is a tall task, but with a Premier League legend at the helm and a crop of talented youth behind him, Crystal Palace may have their best-ever chance to reach this goal.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.