Crystal Palace 2019/20 season review: The Eagles secure their eighth consecutive Premier League season
Palace finished 14th this year | Photo by Michale Regan/Getty Images

Although Crystal Palace finished in a respectable 14th place and secured their eighth consecutive season in the Premier League under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, it has been a season that has left much to be desired amongst the Eagles' faithful.

There is a yearning for more at Selhurst Park. After seven seasons in the top-flight, Palace are yet to break the mould set by the Premier League establishment.

Their three matches prior to lockdown and their first match following the return of football saw Palace secure a quartette of wins against position rivals that propelled the south London side up the league table.

It welcomed the distinct possibility of European football which created a frenzy and a dream that Palace could finally look to push on after cementing themselves as a regular Premiership outfit.

However, following their 2-0 away win over relegation strugglers, Bournemouth, Palace would fail to win any of their remaining eight fixtures, losing seven in a row, conceding seventeen goals, and only scoring two themselves.

Palace would plummet down the table, with the losing streak highlighting the issues that have been growing under the hollow foundations of the club's core.

Palace have an ageing squad, the oldest this season in the Premier League, with an average age of 29 years and 230 days.

Goal scoring too has been an issue, with only bottom of the table Norwich City (26) having found the back of the net on fewer occasions than Palace (31) this season.

The squad also lacked depth, with Roy Hodgson having only 21 first-team players to choose from due to the drought of funds dedicated to the playing staff in recent seasons.

Hodgson, likewise, has become an issue; many believe that the ex-England boss is unable to take the club any further under his stewardship.

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In addition, and much to the annoyance of the Eagles faithful, Palace failed to progress in either of the two cup competitions.

Palace were humiliated at home in the League Cup by League Two side Colchester United, crashing out on penalties in the second round. Palace were also knocked out after a 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup by Derby County in the third round.

Player of the season: Jordan Ayew

Jordan Ayew has been crucial to Palace's Premier League presence for next season. Following his loan spell in the 2018/19 season, where he scored one goal in twenty appearances, Palace decided to make Ayew's move a permanent one from Swansea City, for around £2 million, with his versatility and low transfer fee appealing to Palace's recent method of transfer business.

Ayew, this season, has been a revelation. Through his goals, the Ghanaian international has won Palace a club Premier League record of 17 points this season.

In a side that struggled to score goals this campaign, Ayew scored or assisted 35% of Palace's league goals - without his valuable contribution, the Eagles' league status would have been in a perilous position.

Ayew dominated the end of season awards, picking up the Goal of the Season award, Players’ Player of the Season and Player of the Season.

Transfer business

Palace had another season where the transfer dealings had to be free transfers, loan deals and shrewd acquisitions, with the Eagles' substantial wage bill of around £117 million a year leaving the club's financial power in the market limited.

Perhaps the club’s best piece of business was keeping hold of star man, Wilfried Zaha, for another season, following intense interest from Arsenal and Everton, with the awe-inspiring forward wanting to leave his boyhood club in search of a greater challenge.

Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill arrived on a free transfer from Chelsea after running down his contract with the west London side, thus ending his relationship with the Blues after winning a glut of trophies, with the one Champions League title and two Premier League wins the pick of the bunch in his six and a half year stint at the club.  

The now 34-year-old has had a terrific season with Palace; his experience and defensive nous was evident from his first start and his leadership qualities have been a terrific asset for the Eagles, helping his new side boast one of the best defensive records in the league prior to the enforced break.

Unfortunately for Cahill, the ex-England centre half, capped 61 times for his country, picked up a hamstring injury against his old side Chelsea in the barrage of fixtures during project restart which ruled him out for the remainder of this season and potentially the majority of the next campaign.

James McCarthy

James McCarthy was one of the players at the top of Roy Hodgson's wish list at the beginning of the transfer window.

The Irish international arrived for a reported £3 million fee from Everton in the summer. McCarthy was plagued by injury problems at The Toffees, hence the low fee for someone with a wealth of top-flight experience, as McCarthy had only made one appearance last season before his transfer to Palace.

The now 29-year-old has played over 30 games this season for the first time for the first time in five years, playing a vital role in helping to break up the play and winning back the ball in the middle of the pitch for Palace.

Victor Camarasa

Victor Camarasa was seen as somewhat of a coup from Palace and a very astute acquisition, with the Spanish midfielder arriving on a season-long-loan from Real Betis with an option to buy for around £18million if he made a certain number of appearances.

Off the back of his impressive season at Cardiff City on loan, where Camarasa won their Player of the Season award, he was expected to slot into the Palace midfield, with his keen eye for goal and premium passing range set to be a deadly asset for Palace.

However, Roy Hodgson only gave Camarasa four minutes of Premier League playing time to prove himself, coming on when Palace were 4-0 down to Spurs.

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Frustrated by the lack of minutes, the 26-year-old cut his loan short to return to Spain and finish the season off at Deportivo Alavés.

Stephen Henderson

Stephen Henderson was brought in on a free transfer, after leaving Nottingham Forest on a one-year contract, as cover for first choice, Vicente Guaita, and back-up, Wayne Hennessey; goalkeeper Stephen Henderson failed to feature for Crystal Palace this season.

The shot stopper, who featured at every youth level for the Republic of Ireland, has now left the club, with Palace looking to sign 22-year-old, Portsmouth goalkeeper, Alex Bass, as the replacement for Henderson, and hoping that Bass will become the future first choice between the sticks at Selhurt Park.

Cenk Tosun

Another player who arrived from Everton, this time in the winter window, was Cenk Tosun, who joined on an initial six-month-loan, with an obligation to buy for around £20million at the end of the season.

With Palace's goal scoring prowess less than appetising, the club were desperate to bring in much needed fire power, as Christain Benteke continued to struggle to find confidence in front of goal.

Tosun had an instant impact, scoring on his first start in Palace's impressive 2-2 away draw with Manchester City.

However, injury would curtail his opportunity to build on his sensational start, with the Turkish international suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury which would sideline him for the rest of the season.

Key moment

It is hard to pinpoint an exact moment that has been key in Crystal Palace's season.

The Eagles did enjoy a few moments of joy in the 2019/20 season, especially the historic 2-1 away win at Old Trafford back in September, as Roy Hodgson masterminded Palace's first Premier League win away against Manchester United. There was also the heroic, hard fought 2-2 draw away to Manchester City.

However, the key moment from the season was the sobering 4-0 loss away to Champions-in-waiting, Liverpool.

Palace were full of confidence after their 2-0 away win to Bournemouth, playing with a confidence and swagger that was salivating for the Eagles faithful and daring them to dream of potentially sneaking into the Europa League spots, which was not beyond the realms of possibility.

A trip to Liverpool was always going to be difficult but Jurgen Klopp's side tore Palace apart, with Hodgson's team becoming the first since records began in 2007 to fail to record a touch of the football inside the opposition's penalty area.

Most improved player during project restart

If there was one shining light from Palace's seven losses on the bounce, it was the debut of academy graduate, 20-year-old left-back, Tyrick Mitchell.

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Mitchell has been waiting for his opportunity for some time now, with regular first choice left-back, Patrick Van Aanholt, claiming the position as his own for a number of seasons.

However, Mitchell bided his time and watched eagerly from the bench in anticipation that he would finally get the opportunity to prove himself. And against Manchester United, the chance would finally come when a nasty shoulder injury to Van Aanholt provided Mitchell with his chance.

A baptism of fire would follow for Mitchell, with him having to finish off his first game against some of the most mercurial wingers not only in the Premier League but the whole of World football.

Marcus Rashford, Adama Traore and Lucas Moura are a daunting prospect for any full-back, but Mitchell performed well, held himself in high esteem and is likely now be first choice for next season, with Van Aanholt's injury having the potential to keep him out for up to six months.

The future

There are several issues that Palace need to address in this short turn around before the next season starts up again. Palace have already started to address the aging squad with the signing of 19-year-old and England U20 right-back, Nathan Ferguson.

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Ferguson comes with a high reputation, with Palace beating Spurs and AC Milan to the signing of the versatile defender, who can feature and centre-back or left-back if required.

Wilfried Zaha looks destined finally to leave Palace this summer, with the talisman having a hunger and desire to win trophies in his career, and with the whimsical winger nearing the age of 28, it could be now of never for the Ivorian.

This could supply the catalyst for Palace to reinvest in the playing squad. Queens Park Rangers forward, Eberechi Eze, Brentford's red-hot striker, Ollie Watkins, and Celtic and France U21 striker, Odsonne Édouard are all being touted as possible replacements for Zaha.

This window is crucial for Palace's Premier League future; an aging and thin squad is crying out for rejuvenation, with this six week break before the season starts up again the biggest for Palace since their promotion to the promised land in 2013.

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