Inside the Opposition: Crystal Palace

The win over West Brom changes little. We’re still hoping for a Liverpool defeat, which seems more unlikely by the game. They’re now on an 11-match winning-streak, with the likelihood that their most difficult test – this Sunday’s visit of Chelsea – will see them face a somewhat weakened side. The title is out of our hands and all we can do is win our matches and hope for a Liverpool slip-up.

This week, we welcome Jay from The Eagles Beak, a Palace fan I met whilst recording the EPL Round Table Podcast. I asked him a few questions ahead of our trip to Selhurst Park on Sunday to get an inside view of the opposition.

Sum up the impact Tony Pulis has had at Palace? He’s quite rightly getting praise from all angles for the job he’s done.

Words cannot describe his impact, in truth. It was a month from the time Holloway left and Pulis appointed. We were a mess and many fans questioned why it was taking so long. We were a mess and the final straw was losing at home to Fulham and expecting to be relegated by the end of January. Then Pulis was unveiled and the rest is history. His impact has been quite astounding when you look at the personnel he has worked with. Pretty much the same squad apart from a few additions in January. It has been an incredible turnaround and the club is really on a high at the moment. Mid-table obscurity? Yes please.

Who’s been you best player this season?

That really is a tough one. As with any Pulis team, it is all for one and rarely about any individual. I will try and keep this brief. Speroni has single handedly won games for us, Dann has been incredible since he signed in January alongside an ever impressive Delaney. Ward has been asked to play out of position several times and that has never affected his performance. Captain Jedi in the middle ever reliable, Puncheon out wide is having a great second half as is Bolasie. And Chamakh has perhaps impressed me as much as anyone for his hunger and desire along with a touch of class.

How much would you like to see Wilf Zaha return to the club one day in the future? I get the feeling he left Palace too soon.

It was perfect. He left us with our very best wishes. Helping us achieve promotion was a great parting gift. I for one consider that chapter closed and we move on. Of course, I would welcome him back, but I would much rather us build on what we have started. I do think he left too early like several players before him – Wayne Routledge and John Bostock to name but two. He is perhaps proving that he needed to grow as a person a little more as well as tactically, even though he has undoubted talent.

Your fans have been great this season, I was really impressed with them at the Etihad, and the atmosphere at Selhurst Park always sounds good. How important has that been for you?

The 12th man. Simple as that. Palace fans have always been a passionate bunch and it is one of the things I remember from first going to watch them. Perhaps the bond has grown over the years considering what we have been through. This spell in the Premier League has come as a real surprise but you have to grab such opportunities with both hands. There is, at times, a distinct lack of passion in the game and we as fans want to bring that back. We are here to enjoy but also do our bit for the team. It’s what fans are supposed to do.

What have you made of City this season?

I thought City were going to walk the Premier League this season after your early form, but Arsenal started to match you, then Chelsea joined in, then Liverpool. It’s been such an open season at both ends of the table making it very unpredictable. Even though City arguably have the best squad, injuries to key players have hampered the title challenge. If it wasn’t for Liverpool, you’d still be in with a chance but I think it’s gone now. In saying that, City have been a team I have enjoyed watching – Kompany is class and Toure in the middle is a beast. Not to mention the likes of Aguero, Silva etc.

Which City player would you most like to sign?

Really tough one to choose from the multitude of talents that City have. Out of left field, perhaps, but a need for our current team is a proven goalscorer. I’ve watched Fiorentina a lot over the years, so have a soft spot for Jovetic. I’d choose him for the simple reason that the Premier League has not seen quite what he is capable of as he has been so unlucky with injuries.

Predicted Palace XI?

Really not hard to predict the starting line-up for Palace considering there have been few changes in the last ten or more games so I’ll go with this:

Speroni, Ward, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Jedinak, Ledley, Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Bolasie, Jerome.

Score prediction?

I’ll be bold and predict a home win – 2-1 in an effort to encourage a sixth win in a row. I just have to, don’t I? Some of the City players won’t enjoy coming to Selhurst, that’s for sure.


Interview by Rob Pollard

You can follow Jay on Twitter

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