Andrew Gastelum

Season Preview

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Crystal Palace Season Preview

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Last Season: Finished 11th, 44 Points, 45 Goals For, 55 Goals Against

 

 

Arrivals:  Max Meyer (Schalke), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham), Vicente Guaita (Getafe)

 

Departures:  Yohan Cabaye (Al-Nasr), Damien Delaney (Cork City), Bakary Sako (Free Agent), Lee Chung-yong (Free agent)

 

 

I find it hard to believe that a year ago exactly, Crystal Palace was gearing up for its most highly anticipated season yet—a new, exciting, big-name manager in Frank de Boer and two straight £30 million-plus transfer windows will do that to a fan base. But four games in, the Eagles were goalless, in last place and without a manager. Those struggles continued into Roy Hodgson’s tenure as the club lost its first seven matches, where it was outscored 17-0 before a season-defining win against Chelsea in October.

 

Hodgson proved to be the right man for the job, leading Crystal Palace to an 11th-place finish, ending the season on a high with a six-match unbeaten streak. But while Hodgson’s side has not lost a single game this summer on their specious preseason tour, the biggest concern is only three signings and less than £10 million spent. Palace has missed out on most of its targets and are currently hoping to secure a move for a Liverpool forward in either Danny Ings or Divock Origi. With everyone else revamping, its concerning to see more departures than arrivals in south London.

 

 

 OVERVIEW

 

 

Goalkeeper:

 

Wayne Hennessey

The Welsh international had his best season in recent memory last season, shaking off concerns over his reliability by recording seven clean sheets and 91 saves. But it’s still remarkable that Hennessey is the starting keeper at Palace with so many options out there—although the fact that a 39-year-old Julian Speroni is still at the club helps explains why. An easy early schedule will show if Hennessey keeps his starting job, or if new arrival Vicente Guaita will push him. But Hennessey remains a major fantasy doubt, even if he starts every game.

 

 

Defenders:

 

Patrick van Aanholt

The winger is one of the most fun and equally frustrating players in the Premier League to watch (notice I said winger and not defender). The Dutch international went on a late-season scoring spree last season and ended up with five goals and an assist in a nearly identical season to the previous year. There are some odd links to Juventus among others, but I’d be surprised to see those moves materialize. This season, we can only expect more attacking prowess from van Aanholt, although it’s reflected in his £5.5 price-tag in FPL.com. But in draft leagues, PVA looks like a fabulous mid-round option, especially as a third defender.

 

 

Mamadou Sakho

It hurt me to see a French team without Mamadou Sakho (and Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payer, etc.) lifting the World Cup, but so it goes. The former Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain center-back has been a godsend to the Palace defense since his arrival in the winter of 2017. Despite playing only 1,597 minutes last season, Sakho produced his most successful Premier League season yet with a goal, two assists, six clean sheets and 18 bonus points. With such a mellow schedule to start the season, only Liverpool at home in Gameweek 2 will be a scary matchup through the end of October, Sakho looks like a solid option to have coming off the bench in defense.

 

 

Supporting Cast

James Tomkins actually led the defense in fantasy points in FPL.com last season and remains a valuable option. Joel Ward lingers but where does he fit in now? Meanwhile, the hope is that Jeffrey Schlupp can fulfill his attacking potential since he usually plays on the wing rather than at fullback. But the big bargain pick in FPL.com has been Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has started over Ward in the preseason and is a cheap buy at £4.0.

 

 

Midfielders

 

 

Luka Milivojevic

The Serbian was Crystal Palace’s leader in FPL.com points last season, notching even more than Wilfried Zaha while also leading the team with 10 goals. Milivojevic has impressed since arriving from Olympiakos two years ago and logged more than 3,000 minutes in his first full season last season. He holds plenty of fantasy value as Palace’s penalty taker, but his £6.5 rating in FPL.com means managers have caught on to his value after ending last season at £5.2. But as a fourth or fifth midfielder in draft leagues, Milivojevic is an absolute steal.

 

 

Max Meyer

It will be exciting to see the former German prodigy in the Premier League, but there’s a reason why Meyer has fallen this far: to settling for a free transfer to Crystal Palace when not many other teams wanted him. But the attacking midfielder is still only 22 years old and three seasons removed from a five-goal, eight assist year with Schalke. But despite some of the hype, it’s best to just sit back and observe as the playmaker adapts to the Premier League style of play. All in all, it’s a solid gamble with low risk for Palace. 

 

 

Supporting Cast:

Andros Townsend put up a career-high in assists and minutes last season, but his fantasy potential seems to subside with each passing year. I’m most excited by the club’s subtle addition of Chiekhou Kouyate from West Ham, where he seemed to hold the midfield together throughout all the chaos. The combination of him Milivojevic and James McArthur in midfield creates quite a formidable, experienced wall in front of defense. The problem will be scoring.

                                                                                               

 

Forwards:

 

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha is the obvious star on the team, but he can also be overrated, especially now as a forward in the FPL.com format. He has yet to break 10 goals in a Premier League season despite his hype. There are times when the 25-year-old blinds us with his pace and talent, and then there are times when he disappears for long stretches, be it for minutes or whole matches. The club is doing everything it can to hold onto him before the approaching transfer deadline, as it should, but don’t go out of your way to have him in your FPL squad unless he’s a third forward.

 

 

Christian Benteke

It was sad to watch Christian Benteke slog his way through the worst season of his career last year with three lonely goals. Despite a career high in assists (seven), he was far from the powerful, exhilarating 19-goal debutant in 2012/13 with Aston Villa. Will missing out on Belgium’s bronze-medal-winning side at the World Cup this summer be the wakeup call Benteke needs to finally live up to his club-record transfer fee and take Palace to the next level, or was last season just the first sign of a burnt-out start struggling for goals and confidence?

 

 

Supporting Cast:

There’s not much there for Palace, but former Sunderland phenom Connor Wickham is back from a series of serious injuries and could factor into Hodgson’s plans. Meanwhile, winter signing Alexander Sorloth will be waiting in the wings for a chance. But Palace desperately need to sign another forward in case Benteke continues to struggle.






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