A terrible start during Crystal Palace’s return to the Premier League under Ian Holloway last season gave way to an incredible run under new boss Tony Pulis, which saw the Eagles soaring high.
An attacking outlook was ousted in favour of Pulis’s usual solidity across the park, with several players performing well above their capacity to ensure a spectacular escape from relegation. They also added sensibly in January to aid them in their push for safety, a complete change from Holloway’s scattergun approach in the summer.
Second season syndrome is a common problem for recently promoted sides, but Pulis is a master at avoiding that issue, as evidenced by his record at Stoke. With the right tactics and players playing as well as they did last season, Palace do not look like obvious shouts for relegation.
Frazier Campbell (Cardiff) £1m
Brede Hangeland (Fulham) Free
Chris Kettings (Blackpool) Free
Jose Campagna (Sampdoria) £1.5m
Danny Gabbidon (Free Agent) Free
Kagisho Dikgacoi (Cardiff) Free
Aaron Wilbraham (Bristol City) Free
Dean Moxey (Bolton) Free
Jonathan Parr (Ipswich) Free
Neil Alexander (Hearts) Free
Emerging Star: Sullay Kaikai
Crystal Palace have a good record in recent seasons for giving young players an opportunity to break into their first team, with the likes of Victor Moses and Wilfried Zaha having secured big moves to the Premier League while Palace battled in the second tier.
The latest name from the production line who is likely to find himself involved at Selhurt Park is Sullay Kaikai, a speedy wide player cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned Moses and Zaha.
He was involved in Pulis’s first ever squad at Palace, although he did not play a part in the match against Norwich.
Crawley Town took Kaikai on loan for the second half of last season, and he played five matches for the League One side.
If Pulis is true to his and Palace’s past, the 18-year-old will probably play a role at the London club this season.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Crystal Palace’s greatest strength is undoubtedly Tony Pulis and the manager’s Alchemist-like ability to turn the most base of players into gold.
Marouane Chamakh was seen as nothing but a mistake when Palace brought him in from Arsenal, but Pulis converted the much maligned striker into a deeper lying support to his main man. This led to Chamakh becoming a strangely competent technical influence, a player of some use for a mid-table side.
Similarly, the right-footed Joel Ward became a solid left-back as the season wore on, again because Pulis changed his position almost entirely.
Mile Jedinak is also a fantastic influence in the centre of midfield, a dynamic midfielder who offers poise and power.
Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie are two old-school wingers and offer great support on the flanks, a genuine strength for Palace.
There can be questions over the defensive duo, with Hangeland having suffered a comfortable relegation with Fulham last season. The 33-year-old was never the quickest, and the older he gets, the easier it will be for strikers to exploit him on the turn. 23 appearances last season in the league for Fulham also suggests Hangeland is not on the same level he once was.
Palace are also reliant on their ostensibly underrated talents stepping up once again. If they do not hit the same heights, there could be trouble given the lack of recruits this summer.
Writer’s league prediction
Palace will probably pick up points whenever necessary to establish a comfortable berth in mid-table, but don’t expect anything spectacular.