VAVEL's 20/21 Season Previews: Will Crystal Palace's new signings take the club to the next level?
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Roy Hodgson's side’s dismal display during project restart highlighted the issues that had been threatening to engulf Selhurst Park for a considerable amount of time. The Eagles suffered their worst losing streak under the now 73-year-old Hodgson, falling to seven straight defeats, and only scoring two goals in the process, derailing Palace's potential European dream and turning the season into a distressing nightmare.  

The squad’s dilemmas were out in the open for all to see. The age of the playing staff had deteriorated, which led to Hodgson having to name the oldest starting line-up in the league on a number of occasions; the years of the hierarchy deciding not to rejuvenate the team finally caught up with the powers that be.

Palace's goal-scoring troubles were perhaps the main concern. The midfield was stifled of creativity, as Wilfried Zaha, yet again, carried the Eagles’ attacking responsibility on his shoulders. Zaha's forward-thinking nous would only help Palace finish as the mere second-lowest goal scorers in the Premier League, with only bottom of the table, Norwich City, finding the back of the net on fewer occasions.  

Palace staggered home to a 14th place finish, and after finding themselves only four points off a Europa League spot with eight games to play, it was a disappointing end to the season. Palace's main aim for the new season will be stability.  

The club is going through a period of transition as it looks to lay the foundations of a youthful core to the side, in what could potentially be Roy Hodgson's final year as a professional football manager. At the end of this upcoming season, Hodgson is prepared to let the curtain fall on his illustrious 44-year career, which has seen the Croydon-born manager at the helm of footballing juggernauts, Inter Milan, Liverpool, and the England national side.  

Hodgson is set to lead Palace into a compelling season. The club has dived into the Championship and plundered two of the league's most sort after talents and is hungry, this window, for more gifted youth prospects and a striker to complete the jigsaw.  

Recapping pre-season


Palace were due to take part in the inaugural EVA Air Queensland Champions Cup in Australia, alongside West Ham and Brisbane Roar. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Palace had to settle for local fixtures that would help bring the squad up to full fitness ahead of the barrage of Premier League football.  

The pre-season has been a productive one for Hodgson's side. The Eagles have gone unbeaten, albeit against sides who are lower down the Football League pyramid. Palace's first test was a 2-1 win over Oxford United, who were still sore from their League One play-off final defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.  

Palace put in a competent performance to brush aside Charlton Athletic 3-0, before another solid outing against fellow south London rivals Millwall saw Palace gain the bragging rights in a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Max Meyer goal.  

Palace finished their compact pre-season against Danish side, Brøndby IF. This was a far more competitive match-up for Hodgson's side, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home, thus tarnishing the perfect record.  

Stand-out performer  

After a season where it could be argued Wilfried Zaha was a passenger for the majority of the 2019/20 campaign, Zaha has hit the ground running during pre-season, becoming, once again, the thorn in opposition sides.  

His goal-scoring tally will be a positive for himself and the team, after finishing last season on three goals, Zaha has scored three and assisted two in four games. He was back to his best, running at defences, causing havoc, and playing with no fear.  

Transfers business  


For the first time since 2017, the Eagles’ board have relinquished their tight grip on the purse strings in an attempt to revitalise the squad. Eberechi Eze has arrived after an eye-catching season at QPR, where the England Under-21 international scored an impressive 14 goals and supplied eight assists, making him one of the most sought-after talents in the Championship.  

Palace have paid an initial £15million to Rangers and that fee could rise to £20million on performance-based add-ons. He is expected to add creative flair and a south London swagger to a side that has been suffocated of imagination.  

Palace have also welcomed versatile defender, Nathan Ferguson, to the club. The 19-year-old was expected to join Palace in the January transfer window for £11million, however, the deal was called off due to a knee injury which was unearthed during the medical.  

Palace tracked Ferguson during his rehabilitation process and when his contract expired on the 30th June, the Eagles swooped in to complete the free signing of the promising defender. Due to Ferguson being under the age of 23, Palace will have to pay a tribunal fee to West Brom.  

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With Roy Hodgson having a squad of 21 fully fit players to choose from in the business end of last season, Palace’s main aim this window was to add squad depth. Conceivably, the shrewdest piece of business will be keeping hold of talisman, Wilfried Zaha, who has made it clear, in recent windows, his desire to challenge himself at the highest level.  

With a just under a month to go before the window slams shut, the club have yet to receive a bid for their prize asset. 

Who is Crystal Palace's key player?

Crystal Palace's midfield was lacking countless attributes to help the forward line in goal contributions. Max Meyer and Victor Camarasa failed to establish themselves as first-team choices under Hodgson, so, for the Palace faithful, it will be refreshing to see Eze become an instrumental member of the starting line-up.  

The midfield lacked goals, assists and any creative spark whatsoever. The resilient midfielder trio of Cheikhou Kouyaté, Luka Milvojevic and James McArthur are excellent defensive players, however, going forward, they all leave much to be desired. Eze shone in QPR's midfield last season, making himself the driving force in the west London side’s attacking authority, displaying his ruthless finishing and unforgiving passing range on a number of occasions.  

A breakthrough talent

The promising left-back Tyrick Mitchell has planted himself firmly in the mind of Roy Hodgson, heading into the upcoming season. Following the injury to regular first-team left-back Patrick Van Aanholt who missed the final three games of the season. Tyrick Mitchell was thrust into a baptism of fire, coming up against a selection of the league's most potent wingers in Adama Traore and Lucas Moura

He has drawn comparison to former academy graduate Aaron Wan-Bissaka as Mitchell has displayed his impressive defensive awareness and an exceptional eye for a tackle.  

Whilst Van Aanholt has resumed light training, the left-back spot is Mitchell's to lose - he impressed Hodgson during his short spell in the side, with the experienced level-headed manager having this to say on the 21-year-old's display, “He’s had two incredibly difficult games in his first two games he’s had to play. First, against Adama Traore and then against Lucas Moura – that’s an incredible performance he’s done on both of those occasions.” 

“He’ll go into his break feeling very happy with himself and realising that, ‘I can be more than just a candidate in this position. I can put Patrick van Aanholt under some severe competition for his place in the team’.”  

Key dates 

Saturday, 10th October - Matchday 5 | Crystal Palace vs Brighton & Hove Albion 

Saturday, 26th December - Matchday 15 | Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace 

Saturday, 20th February - Matchday 25 | Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Crystal Palace 

Sunday, 23rd May - Matchday 38 | Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Writer’s verdict 

After years of under-investment, Steve Parish and Co. have carefully planned the rebuild of the club, having to bide their time, keeping the Palace's Premier League survival reliant on free transfers, loans and castaways from other top-flight sides. This summer, the club is going through a change of paramount importance.  

The plan is to supply the next manager with young, hungry talent, which the club can nurture and develop into Premier League stars before selling on for a profit. The window has started off effectively by welcoming Ferguson and Eze to the club. However, if Hodgson is set to bow out with an explosive exit, Palace will need to strengthen certain areas to ensure Hodgson has the most effective arsenal at his disposal.  

Michy Batshuayi is set to re-join the club on a season-long loan which will contribute to solving Palace's goal-scoring woes.  

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A winger is also a top priority. Brentford’s stand out performer, Saïd Benrahma, and QPR, wide man, Bright Osayi-Samuel, are both options. This is no scatter-gun approach trying to appease the fans to bring down the average age of the squad; Palace have planned for this.

With this season's Premier League looking more competitive than ever, Palace could find it hard to break the top 10, therefore a 12th place finish would be an acceptable one.