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“De Boer has a lot of work to do” – Three things learnt from Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea City

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Swansea

Frank de Boer’s winless start to the season as manager of Crystal Palace continued on Saturday afternoon as his side fell to defeat against a much-improved Swansea City outfit at Selhurst Park.

Last season this fixture treated us to a thrilling 5-4 victory for the Swans, but this was never in danger of being replicated in a cagey and relatively dull affair between two favourites for relegation.

Tammy Abraham opened the scoring for the visitors just before the break with a smart finish from inside the area before Jordan Ayew capitalised on a defensive error to seal a first win of the season.

Abraham off the mark for the Swans

Much has been said about Tammy Abraham’s ability to adapt to the Premier League after his sensational breakthrough year in the Championship on-loan at Bristol City, and in the opening two matches of the season the 19-year-old found it a struggle to even get close to a clear sight on goal.

But after grabbing his first competitive Swansea City goal in midweek during the Carabao Cup he notched his first top-flight goal at Selhurst Park and put in an all-round solid and influential display.

With Fernando Llorente still side-lined a lot of the onus has been on Abraham to score the goals for the Welsh side, and after 223 minutes without one this season he finally broke Swansea’s duck when he met Leroy Fer’s cross with an improvised finish on the six-yard box to put his side into the lead.

In doing so, he became the second youngster Swansea player ever to score – at 19 years and 328 days old – and it will no doubt have given him a big confidence boost to push on and add to his tally.

But perhaps even more promising for boss Paul Clement is the link-up play that began to surface between Abraham and Jordan Ayew, starting to be a budding partnership worth keeping an eye on.

Zaha is more important for Palace than ever

To say that it hasn’t been the greatest start to the season for Crystal Palace and new manager Frank De Boer would be an understatement, with no points and no goals from the opening three matches.

They looked extremely toothless in attack and, whilst they conceded two sloppy goals that the Dutchman will not be happy with, it was their lack of creativity at the other end that is the concern.

With Wilfried Zaha still on the side-line after his opening day injury there simply hasn’t been an outlet that causes the opposition problems in the final third, with the likes of Andros Townsend and Jason Puncheon failing to provide any real attacking impetus or give Christian Benteke any service.

The fact that Swansea City goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi barely had any work to do says it all, and Palace need to quickly get out of a rut that has seen them score in just one of their last eight games.

The immediate solution is to quickly delve into the transfer market for an attacking player, and ideally a winger, but with just four days left until the window closes it might be tough to get anyone.

Palace the architects of their own downfall

With clashes against newly-promoted Huddersfield Town and Swansea City in their opening few matches, Crystal Palace would have been looking to get off the mark early and put down a marker.

But instead it’s been a woeful start to proceedings in 2017-18, and heading into the first international break of the new season the Eagles only really have themselves to blame for it.

Swansea didn’t have to work very hard at all to secure the win on Saturday, with Abraham’s first effort a relatively free waltz into the area before Martin Kelly’s moment of madness cost them for Ayew’s second, being caught out on the half-way line and giving the striker the freedom to score.

And for a manager like De Boer – who has just spent a season with a strong, rigid and disciplined Ajax side – the ease in which opposition seem to be scoring is a big issue that needs to be sorted out.

Fortunately for Palace their next trip is to Turf Moor to face Burnley, which can be deemed a winnable encounter, and De Boer will hope a two-week break is enough to rejuvenate his team.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace will be kicking themselves over Mandela Egbo

The England youth international left Crystal Palace in 2015.

Mathew Coull

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Young English winger Keanan Bennetts made the news this week, by completing a move to German side Borussia Monchengladbach. The 19-year-old turned his back on Tottenham Hotspur in order to make the move to Germany, a move that is becoming more and more regular.

Jadon Sancho, Ryan Kent and Reece Oxford all played in the Bundesliga this season, whilst Ademola Lookman was on fire for RB Leipzig by the end of the campaign.

But one young man who did the same thing will surely be leaving a sour taste in the mouth at Crystal Palace.

The player in question is 20-year-old defender Mandela Egbo. He is now one of Bennetts’ new team-mates at Gladbach and will no doubt be helping his fellow Londoner settle in the North Rhine-Westphalia.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Hackney-born Egbo started his career at Crystal Palace. He swiftly rose through the ranks at the club and looked like a genuine talent for his country as well. Egbo was a member of the England squad that won the European Under-17 Championships back in 2014.

But in 2015 he decided he wanted to leave Crystal Palace. The defender joined Gladbach, where he played with their B team and saw a clearer pathway toward first-team football.

Egbo has since gone on to make his Bundesliga debut and Palace fans will realise they are now missing out on a real talent.

At 20-years-old he now appears to have matured into a very talented footballer. He simply felt that rather than getting a chance at Palace, the Eagles would always buy a new defender instead of giving him a shot.

(Photo by Raquel Costa/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, it looks as though this has been a good career move for Egbo. Palace, on the other hand, will be disappointed they never managed to keep him in London.

Roy Hodgson would have been delighted to have a player of Egbo’s natural quality available to him in the Palace squad for next season.

Whilst fans at Selhurst Park will be gutted Egbo is not an Eagle anymore, they will no doubt wish him all the best in the Bundesliga. And who knows? Maybe, one day, Egbo will make a return to his boyhood club.

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Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha would be an underwhelming signing for Liverpool

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Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool have become the latest top six club to be linked with Crystal Palace ace Wilfried Zaha as the Liverpool Echo included the Reds as one of many sides believed to be chasing the Ivory Coast winger.

However, if the club do make a move for the 25-year-old, it would show a lack of ambition after what many have perceived to be a season of progress as Liverpool have reached the Champions League final whilst retaining their top four spot.

On paper, a wideman with strength and pace who scores goals would be ready-made for Jurgen Klopp’s attacking set-up and could provide a much needed rotation option alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane up-front.

Despite that, it would be a huge gamble to invest in Zaha. One reason for that is that he has showed his best form at Selhurst Park in the second half of 2017/18 as Roy Hodgson gave the winger a free role in attack, allowing him freedom to switch between flanks and centrally in a number ten role.

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on March 31, 2018 in London, England.

At Anfield, Zaha would not possess such an option, and if he tried to maintain many of the key traits of his game of cutting inside and drifting around near the opposition box, he would be standing on the toes of established regulars like Salah and Firmino.

Then there is the concern over Zaha’s ability to adapt. His previous spell at Manchester United hinted at the fact that he has struggled with the associated pressure of being at a big club like Liverpool or their north-western rivals, which will be a concern for any club paying the astronomical transfer fee that Crystal Palace would demand for his services.

The winger has undoubted potential, but as Champions League finalists and with money to spend, Liverpool can afford to go after established stars rather than taking expensive gambles on unproven men who have a history of inconsistency.

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West Ham can’t afford to lose Michail Antonio to Crystal Palace

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Photo: Getty Images.

Uncertainty surrounds West Ham United as a summer rollercoaster looks inevitable with big changes on and off the field. That is starting with a change in the dug-out, where The Times say that former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is favourite to replace David Moyes. The club could pay a heavy price though, with Michail Antonio potentially at risk.

The Guardian say that London rivals Crystal Palace are looking to do their transfer business early and could pounce on the chaos at the London Stadium to poach the winger away from the Hammers.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man missed much of the 2017/18 season with on and off injuries from bruised ribs to calf strains and a pulled hamstring, which may suggest that now could be the right time to cash in on the explosive 28-year-old who relies on physicality and dynamic pace.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images,)

Yet despite that, West Ham cannot afford to be tempted into selling. Despite being sidelined by injury at various points throughout the season, when fit Antonio was always one of the first names on the team sheet under both Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

Antonio’s tenacity and determination shows why a new manager, whether it is Pellegrini or not, should look to build their team around the winger. Able to play in a variety of roles and a real fan favourite, the unpopular Irons board would be taking a huge gamble by allowing Antonio to depart.

It is no surprise that Palace are interested, and had it not been for injury some much more high profile clubs could have come calling, but West Ham must retain the services of Michail Antonio if they are to pursue hopes of pushing for Europe.

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