THE INSIDE TRACK: Crystal Palace

By SFC Media time Wed 09 Dec Club

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park, got the lowdown on Crystal Palace from South London Press reporter Richard Cawley.

How would you sum up Crystal Palace’s season so far?

I think expectations were high at the start of the season, with the summer signings they made. The natural one to pick out was Yohan Cabaye. It’s a well-used expression that it was a statement of intent, but I think it was exactly that. Expectations were high and so far they’ve delivered on those. The result at Everton (1-1 on Monday) pushed them back into sixth place and has got them to where they want to be. They’ve made no secret of the fact they want to see if they can get into a position where they’ve got European football next year. They’ve got to be really happy with the start they’ve made.

How has their home form been?

There’s been a mix of results. They still probably haven’t got it totally right, albeit they have had some difficult games at home, but the last one was a huge confidence booster, with the way they tore Newcastle apart, 5-1. They probably find it harder against sides who do sit deep – they sometimes find it difficult to get their wide players in behind and open teams up in that case – but they’re getting there.

There’s a shift in the way they’re playing. Under Tony Pulis, and even last season under Alan Pardew, they were still this side that were happy to give more possession to the opposition and then, when they got the ball, they would look to do damage, without having huge possession stats. You look at them this season as it’s gone on and they’ve begun to have a lot more of the ball, particularly at home, so there’s been a bit of a sea change on that. It will be interesting to see how they go against Southampton, because this is another test for them against a team who play the right way.

What else can you tell us about their style of play?

They still rely on the vibrancy of their wing play – when you look at Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha, when everything clicks for them they are match-winners. Connor Wickham coming back from injury is a big plus, because at times they haven’t always had the big target man up there. He showed against Newcastle he can really bring the likes of Wilf and Yannick into play.

The other big change as well is that, with James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye, they’ve got two ball-playing holding midfielders and that tells you they want a bit more quality and zip to what they do. That’s the thing Alan Pardew wants – he wants them to be more effective and have a go at teams. He wants them to play in a style that’s exciting for the fans to watch and I think, to a large degree, they’ve been one of the most entertaining sides in the Premier League this season.

How highly is Alan Pardew regarded there?

They love him. At Palace, because of what he’s achieved as a player and the fact he’s seen as a Palace person, he’s got pretty much total support from the fans. They think he’s great and he’s done a great job. Tactically he’s got it right. Changes he’s made have come off and helped them to win games, and they’re playing in a style that people want to see. 

Who would you say are Palace’s key players right now?

When everything in Bolasie’s game clicks together I think he’s hugely influential. He can pull teams apart with his pace and he’s so strong as well. He probably still needs to add a little bit more consistency to his game, but he gives any full-back nightmares when he’s at his best. The other one that’s really done well for them is James McArthur. In that midfield, his energy levels are excellent and he’s a good passer of the ball.

How do you see Saturday’s game going?

I think Palace are in a good place at the moment, in terms of their recent form. Maybe the fact it’s a more open game will play into their hands, so I think Palace can do it and pick up the win to boost their hopes of getting that European spot.

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