Premier League preview: Crystal Palace

Julian Speroni will be key to helping Palace avoid a quick Championship return.
Julian Speroni will be key to helping Palace avoid a quick Championship return. Photo: PA

Last season: The Championship

You would have found few neutrals that would have tipped Palace for a playoff finish in the second tier last season, let alone a return to the top flight. It is testament to Ian Holloway's infectious enthusiasm, tactical awareness and never-say-die attitude that they upset the odds to win the playoff final with a side spearheaded by Wilfried Zaha.

Shorn of England international Zaha, who has headed off to the bright lights of Manchester United, and top scorer Glenn Murray, out until January thanks to a cruciate knee injury, they will be hard pressed to push up the table early on like Holloway's enterprising Blackpool side did in their spirited Premier League outing three years ago.

Speak to Palace fans and they know full well it could be a brief foray amongst the elite, the loyal Selhurst Park supporters content to enjoy every single minute cheering for a team packed with youthful zest and a sprinkling of veteran wisdom. Julian Speroni was too good for the Championship, his love for the club rewarded with another chance to showcase his supreme goalkeeping skills between the sticks.

Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney and Dean Moxey look set to start the season ahead of the experienced Argentine in defence with Holloway set to install new signing Jose Campana from Sevilla in the middle of the park leaving Aussie international Mile Jedinak, Jerome Thomas and Jonathan Williams to round out the midfield.

Up front former Posh frontman Dwight Gayle should be joined by Holloway favourite Stephen Dobbie with flying winger Yannick Bolasie and veteran poacher Kevin Phillips coming off the bench to liven up proceedings. Frenchman Elliot Grandin and skipper Paddy McCarthy, who is battling back from his own injury setback, should also feature.

Ins: Stephen Dobbie (Brighton, undisc), Dwight Gayle (Peterborough, undisc), Jose Campana (Sevilla, undisc), Elliot Grandin (Unattached, free)

Outs: None

Palace fans will be hoping Jerome Thomas can reproduce his best Baggies form.
Palace fans will be hoping Jerome Thomas can reproduce his best Baggies form. Credit: PA

Player to watch: Jose Campana. Holloway appears to have taken a page out of the Swansea playbook with a move for the Sevilla midfielder. Impressing at U20 level for Spain, he should add a touch of class and composure to a side that will need to retain possession to survive the hectic rough and tumble amongst the big boys.

Something to prove: Jerome Thomas. The former England U21 winger seems to have been around an age without really excelling at any one club playing down the flanks. After long spells with Charlton and West Brom, the Wembley native needs to serve up consistent, penetrating trickery to boost Palace's attacking threat.

Predicted finish: 20th

Relegation odds: 4/7

Your view: Where do you need to strengthen?

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@itvfootball yeah I agree, we need more defenders with prem experience... We might be alright tho

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@itvfootball the midfield and attack look strong enough, maybe one more striker and 2-3 defenders. Potentially a back up keeper too #cpfc