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Crystal Palace

An era of change at Crystal Palace

The Boot Room

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A new year, and another new manager has been appointed at Selhurst Park. The latest man tasked with keeping Crystal Palace in the Premier League is Alan Pardew. 2 games into Pardew’s reign, and things are looking much brighter at Palace.

What’s noticeably changed at Palace is their playing style; Pardew is much keener for the Eagles to play a possession based game. Speaking after the FA Cup victory away to Dover Athletic, Pardew stated that Palace would “take risks” with the ball, and this really showed in his first Premier League game in charge, a 2-1 victory against Tottenham.

However, this isn’t to say that the long-ball has been completely forgotten about, there were times against Spurs when the Palace defenders cleared their lines, but keeping the ball on the deck seems to be Pardew’s main prerogative.

Throughout the 90 minutes Palace looked to play their way out of defence rather than just hoofing the ball up-field, similar to Palace’s last 2 managers Neil Warnock and Tony Pulis. Credit must go to Palace here, as they didn’t look out of place against the star-studded Spurs midfield. James McArthur acted as an anchor in front of the back 4, which allowed Joe Ledley and Barry Bannan to express themselves on the ball.

Barry Bannan has become a key player for Crystal Palace in recent seasons.

Bannan is now seen as a key component to this Palace side. The Scottish international has started both of Pardew’s games in charge after being a peripheral figure under Pulis and Warnock. His role might change when club captain Mile Jedinak returns from international duty, but for the time being the former Aston Villa man is now seen as a big player under Pardew, and his ball playing abilities have really stood out.

As well as Bannan, Pardew has reintroduced other players from the fringes and back into the first-team picture. Stirker Glenn Murray is in Pardew’s plans following a loan spell at Championship side Reading and has partnered Dwight Gayle in attack for both of Pardew’s games so far. The duo look like they are building up a good relationship on the pitch.

The emphasis on a passing game has offered Palace much more versatility going forward. Time and time again under Warnock, Palace forced the ball wide and relied on Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha or Jason Puncheon to break down opposition defences with their pace. Against Spurs there were many occasions when Puncheon was playing ‘in the hole’ behind Gayle and Murray, a position he took up to score the match winning goal.

Wilfried Zaha impressed with his brief cameo versus Spurs, is there more to come from the Manchester United loanee?

Zaha seems to have got his confidence back under Pardew. The winger came off the bench to produce the assist for Puncheon’s goal against Spurs, and with star wide-man Bolasie at the African Cup of Nations, Zaha might get an extended run in the side.

It doesn’t look as if Palace under Pardew will be a one trick pony. Elements of long-balls and wing play mixed with a main emphasis on crisp passing and possession football give Palace more of a cutting edge, which top teams (as proved against Spurs) will struggle to cope against.

Despite currently being 15th in the Premier League table they are only 1 point adrift of safety. But with Pardew already noticeably changing things at Palace, and the singing of Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo on loan gives them more attacking options, maybe Palace fans will be feeling ‘glad all over’ once again.

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace should gamble on Ahmed Musa after World Cup triumph

Jamie Watts

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Leicester City‘s forgotten man, Ahmed Musa, set the world alight with his sensational display in Nigeria’s 2-0 triumph over Iceland, becoming his nation’s all time top-scorer after bagging an emphatic brace. And Crystal Palace should really take notice.

Musa failed to score a single Premier League goal last term, before being sent back to former club CSKA Moscow in January. But today’s showing was the 25-year-old at his brilliant best, and he’s reminded us all what he’s capable of.

His performance for the Super Eagles should attract the interest of their club namesake.

The Eagles are in serious need of attacking reinforcements this summer, having flirted with relegation under the winless tenure of ex-boss Frank de Boer but Wilfried Zaha’s timely return from a long-term injury, rejuvenated the squad and Roy Hodgson eventually cemented an 11th place finish.

However, another long-term stint in the treatment room for the Ivorian could cause collapse at the club, and Musa could take the reins as the creative, counter-attacking spark behind the physical presence of Christian Benteke – who notably managed a meagre three goals himself.

Not only that, but along-side Zaha, the two could wreak havoc against Premier League defences in Roy Hodgson’s fast counter attacking style, and he could begin showing his best form in England for the first time since his arrival.

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Chelsea

Crystal Palace’s hopes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek return boosted after latest comments

The midfielder is unlikely to get what he’s after at his parent club.

Jamie Watts

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek has boosted Crystal Palace‘s hopes of securing his services for another season, after claiming he will only remain with Chelsea this summer if guaranteed a regular first-team spot at Stamford Bridge next season, in quotes via Sky Sports.

The 22-year-old spent last season on loan at Selhurst Park after making just 31 appearances for Chelsea since his debut in 2014, and his immense talents have earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad this World Cup.

Photo: Getty Images

“I want to play as much as I can,” revealed Loftus-Cheek. “Even this past season just gone, I didn’t play as much as I would have liked because of injuries. So I still feel I need a proper season of playing, wherever it is.”

Loftus-Cheek made 25 appearances for Roy Hodgson’s outfit last term, and is still unhappy with the amount of minutes he managed, so it’s pretty safe to assume Chelsea – given the disastrous domestic season they’ve just had – won’t be bettering his previous return, or be prioritising taking chances on academy products next season.

And Palace will be keen to offer the stylish midfielder a deal to extend his stay with the former England manager, where, if available, he will continue to be considered one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Photo: Getty Images

Palace are likely to face competition from rival clubs though, as Loftus-Cheek is emerging as a star on the biggest stage of all in Russia; having flourished in his brief cameo against Tunisia. And he’s now considered likely to start against Panama, with Dele Alli nursing a slight injury.

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Chelsea

Crystal Palace should plot audacious loan move for Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi

Crystal Palace should act on the latest reports from Germany.

Jamie Watts

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Photo: Getty Images

Chelsea‘s resurgent striker Michy Batshuayi is back to playing the football that garnered interest from Stamford Bridge last summer.

The then-defending champions signed the Belgian international for £33 million, but he was eventually loaned out to Borussia Dortmund in January, after failing to break into the first team in west London.

The 24-year-old instantly hit the ground running in the Bundesliga, bagging an impressive seven goals in 10 league appearances – having scored just two in 12 for Chelsea that term – and he’s also performing well for Belgium when Romelu Lukaku isn’t spearheading the side.

Dortmund are unlikely to sign the striker on a permanent deal this summer, according to reports from Sport Bild, as the German giants look to land a worldy striker to succeed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, which means he’ll likely be resigned to a bit-part role at Stamford Bridge.

Photo: Getty Images

Crystal Palace should make an audacious swoop to land Batshuayi on loan this summer, in their quest for attacking reinforcements if he returns to the Premier League.

The Eagles are in serious need of attacking reinforcements this summer, having flirted with relegation under the winless tenure of ex-boss Frank de Boer, but Wilfried Zaha’s timely return from a long-term injury rejuvenated the squad and Roy Hodgson eventually cemented an 11th place finish.

With Christian Benteke’s slump in form – registering a meagre Premier League three goals – Hodgson will have to ensure the side have more goals in them next term, and signing his fellow countryman would be a fantastic coup.

Photo: Getty Images

The prospect of Batshuayi and Zaha spearheading the attack would be a frightening prospect for any Premier League defence, and Palace need to ensure they have depth in-case their top scorer should face another lengthy stint away from the pitch.

Chelsea are under pressure to succeed next term after a disastrous season, and play-time for the Belgian won’t be high on their list of priorities.

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