2022/23 Season Preview: Crystal Palace


Crystal Palace will be heading into the new campaign with a huge sense of optimism as they look to test the giants of the Premier League once again.

Upon his arrival as manager last summer, Patrick Vieira knew he had a huge job on his hands as the club saw the departures of seven first-team players on free contracts. However, the south London outfit recruited well and despite a slow start to the season, they Eagles soon found their rhythm.

Palace ended the campaign in 12th and just three points outside the top half of the table. Along the way, they were able to claim wins against eventual Champions Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United. Vieira’s side also enjoyed an FA Cup, reaching the semi-finals of the competition for the fifth time in their history.

This season has the potential to see Palace further progress as one of the Premier League’s most exciting clubs, especially given the young talent they have at their disposal.

New additions

Palace’s transfer activity last summer was undoubtedly smart business; young talent was signed to help build the club’s pathway for future seasons. They were able to capture the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Michael Olise and Marc Guehi, with the latter soon taking the captain’s armband on several occasions.

They also welcomed the arrival of Conor Gallagher on loan from Chelsea, with the 22-year-old proving to be one of their best assets throughout the campaign. He netted eight goals and assisted five others across all competitions. However, the 22-year-old is now set to remain at the Blues for the forthcoming season thanks to his impressive performances in south London.

He will be a big miss for Vieira and co., but the club have done well to sign his replacement as they look solidify their midfield. Cheick Doucoure has made the move from French outfit Lens, with the 22-year-old able to play in either central or defensive midfield. He can also play at centre-back, therefore providing versatility to the side.

Right-back Chris Richards has signed from Bayern Munich as well as winger Malcolm Ebiowei from Derby, with the duo maintaining the trend of young signings with their respective ages of 22 and 18. Sam Johnstone has also joined and will compete for the no.1 goalkeeper spot alongside Jack Butland and Vicente Guaita.

Outgoings have been far less than the previous summer with Cheikhou Kouyate and Martin Kelly being the only notable departures, especially with the latter leaving after eight seasons at the club.

The Eagles have also, so far, been able to keep their star-man Wilfried Zaha, who has been linked with a move to Jose Mourinho’s Roma throughout the summer, as well as Chelsea. Although he looks to be staying put for now, the Ivorian has just one year left on his deal at Selhurst Park.

Shining stars

Zaha has been one of Palace’s best players for many years now. He has made over 400 appearances for the club either side of his underwhelming move to Manchester United, scoring 83 goals and assisting 73.  Last season saw him make 17 of those contributions, including 14 goals in the Premier League.

He flourishes on the left of their attack, using his pace and skill to get past players before teeing up teammates or having a shot on goal himself. Zaha will continue to be one of their key players this season, and the 29-year-old has no shortage of quality around him.

Eberechi Eze will also be looking to make an impact this term, having spent much of last season in and out of the side as a result of his injury early on.

His debut season at the club proved just how good of a player he is though, amassing 10 goal contributions in the Premier League after signing from Championship outfit QPR.

At just 20-years-old, Olise is one of Palaces’ rising stars. He made the switch from Reading last summer and scored four goals in all competitions, as well as providing eight assists for the senior team. The right-sided midfielder certainly has the ability to contribute even further to the side, and this season will give him the chance to take his game to the next level.

Guehi, who helped to keep 13 clean sheets last season, will likely remain at the heart of the Eagles’ defence, and his partnership with Joachim Andersen will continue to thrive. He was also named captain for the side on seven occasions in the previous campaign, with the 22-year-old clearly showing strong signs of leadership at such a young age.

The season ahead

Pre-season has been mixed for Vieira’s side, but their last two results of the summer have shown that they are ready and raring to go for the new campaign.

A trip to QPR saw the Eagles win 3-0 at Loftus Road, with Eze scoring upon his return to his former side and Zaha grabbing a brace, the first of which was a superb strike that flew into the top right corner of the goal. Just a week later, they returned to Selhurst Park to play Ligue 1 side Montpellier.

The aforementioned duo were involved once again, and their first goal of the afternoon proved just how much quality they have at their disposal. After some tidy passing around the back, Eze was able to flick Joel Ward’s pass round the back of an onrushing opposition player before spreading it out to the left to Zaha.

Montpellier failed to close him down on the attack and were soon punished, with the Ivorian firing low and hard with his right foot to give Palace the lead. An Edouard brace and a Guehi header would help contribute to the 4-2 victory, ensuring they head into the season full of confidence.

They host Arsenal in the Premier League’s curtain raiser on Friday night, before travelling to Liverpool 10 days later for their second fixture. Come the end of their first five games of the season they will have played three of the traditional top six, with a trip to Manchester City awaiting them towards the end of August.

It will be a tough start for the Eagles, but they will progress through the campaign in the knowledge that they will have already played away at two of the toughest grounds in the league, Anfield and the Etihad Stadium.

A similar finish to last season would most likely be welcomed, but there is still a chance they could do even better and break into the top half of the table. Finishing in the top seven, and therefore qualifying for European football, is still a long way off for Palace, but their youthful squad could help build towards such an objective for future years.

Their FA Cup journey last season was also a highlight and despite losing 2-0 to Chelsea in the semi-final, they can be proud of their achievement. Another cup run would be a further sign of the club’s ambitions, especially if a potential trip to Wembley awaits them.

Vieira and his exciting side may be ready to upset the odds once again, and a win against the Gunners under the lights at Selhurst Park would be the perfect way for them to kick-off their campaign.

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