Crystal Palace under the microscope


With the transfer window firmly shut, Ian Holloway can finally concentrate on the pitch after frantically rebuilding his squad. In this guest article, Crystal Palace fan, Luke Place, takes us through his beloved squad to give an assessment on the options on offer for Fantasy Premier League (FPL).

Goalkeepers

Julian Speroni (4.5) is comfortably in place as the first choice goalkeeper.

Right-back

Joel Ward (4.0) is a pretty sure bet as our right-back at present, largely because the only other right-back in the squad, Jack Hunt (4.0), is a new signing and would be taking a big step up from Huddersfield to go straight into a Premiership starting XI.

Centre-backs

With Mariappa (4.0) signed on deadline day, it’s not clear who will be the first choice pairing this season. He’ll be looking to displace either Danny “getting on a bit” Gabbidon (4.0) or Damien “perhaps not Premiership quality” Delaney (4.5). There may be form-based rotation in this position.

Left-back

Parr (4.0) was first choice when fit last season, but Moxey (4.0) has played very well in the opening three games. So well, in fact, that new signing Marange (4.0) has failed to make the squad of 25 having only just joined the club! Parr’s the better player, but he’s competing with a man in form.

Central midfielders

Jedinak (4.5) should play every game this season, if fit (and not suspended!). It tells you everything that you need to know that Zaha (sold to United) and Murray (30 goals) lost out to him for Player of the Season. He’s a solid defensive midfielder who will occasionally pop up with a header at corners and set pieces. Depending on the opposition, he’ll be partnered with either one or two central midfielders (in most cases two).

The most obvious contenders to play alongside him in the middle are probably Campana (5.0), Bannan (4.7), Dikgacoi (4.5), Williams (4.4) and Guedioura (?), but with so much competition, it’s probably not worth taking a punt on any of them. All have weak goalscoring records and although Guedioura and Bannan can both shoot from range, Williams is the only player likely to carry the ball forward. O’Keefe (4.5) scored a lovely goal last weekend, but with so much competition he’ll likely struggle to get any more game time. Garvan (4.9) has not been included in the squad of 25.

Wingers

Much like in the middle of the park, few players competing for limited attacking spaces behind the striker(s) are guaranteed game time. Given their Premiership experience, Kebe (5.0), Thomas (4.4) and Puncheon (5.4) will probably stake strong claims for starts, but with Holloway seemingly enamoured by the idea of two strikers with one dropping off, there is a significant chance that only one winger will be given a start on most weeks.

Bolasie (4.9) showed some promise last season and at times outperformed Zaha but a dip in form combined with strong competition for places makes him pretty un-pickable, much like old Blackpool favourite, Grandin (4.4), who was probably brought in before Holloway realised quite how many players he’d be able to bring in during the transfer window.

Strikers

With Murray out until at least January, it seems that the one/two spots up front will be contested by Gayle (5.0), Chamakh (5.0) and Jerome (4.9). Wilbraham (4.5) and Dobbie (4.5) were not included in the squad of 25 and it seems unlikely that Phillips (4.5) will get many sub appearances with one/two better quality strikers accompanying him on the bench.

Gayle (5.0) has not performed as some fans hoped their club record signing might have, but the manner in which he won the match-winning penalty against Sunderland gives a hint of how his pace could cause defenders problems. His willingness to play for the team is evident in his 3 appearances thus far being as an attacking midfielder, a winger and as a supporting striker. Perhaps not big enough to play up top on his own, but his versatility should earn him starts.

Chamakh (5.1) is perhaps more likely than Jerome (4.9) to be utilised as the focal point of Palace’s attack, but with both players having something to prove, they’ll be relying on some good goalscoring form to gain/retain a place in the team. It seems unlikely they’ll be asked to play together because they’re so similar, but they’re both worth keeping an eye on, particularly if the other is injured/suspended.

Summary

If you’re wondering who’ll be on set pieces (and even penalties), you’re not the only one! A lot will depend upon who is playing with Jedinak in the middle, since Campana and Bannan probably have the best technique compared with Moxey, Parr, Williams and a few other set piece contenders. With such a large squad, there aren’t many bargains to be had, but Speroni (4.5), Ward (4.0) and Jedinak (4.5) all represent reliable starters for those looking to put together a thrifty looking bench.

Though the defence has not been reinforced much since leaking goals in the Championship, Holloway’s penchant for playing three central midfielders has meant they’ll perhaps be less prone to regular thrashings than pundits were predicting in pre-season! The counter-attacking tactics have looked like they could be effective on occasion; so spotting the likely starters further forwards could be valuable.