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Crystal Palace season preview - predictions, fixtures, summer signings, starting XI

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Crystal Palace ahead of the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

The upcoming season will be Crystal Palace's eighth in a row in the Premier League - extending their longest-ever spell in the top flight.

The Eagles have only finished in the top half of the table once in that time, though, and that will again be the main aim heading into the new campaign as they look to build on last season.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Roy Hodgson's side ahead of the 2020-21 season.

How did they fare last season?

Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew celebrates scoring their first goal with Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and teammates on February 29, 2020© Reuters

Pretty well until the closing stages.

Palace passed the 40-point mark with victory over Bournemouth in gameweek 30 - their first match back after lockdown - at which stage they sat ninth in the table and were only four points off fifth-placed Manchester United.

European football seemed to be a possibility, but a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool in their very next match sparked a dreadful run of form and they ended up taking only one point from the final 24 on offer - that courtesy of a final-day draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

Palace only scored three goals in that eight-match winless streak and failed to find the back of the net in six of those, which was even more surprising considering it came off the back of their best-ever Premier League run of four wins in a row without conceding.

Roy Hodgson's side eventually finished 14th, nine points clear of the relegation zone but with the second-worst goalscoring record in the league.

The highlight of the campaign arguably came as early as matchday three when Palace claimed their first win of the season at Old Trafford - their first league triumph away to Manchester United since 1989 - although they did also pick up an impressive draw at the Etihad Stadium in January.

Biggest improvement needed

Scoring more goals.

Only Norwich City scored fewer than Crystal Palace in the Premier League last season, with the whole team managing just 31 between them and no player reaching double figures.

The Eagles failed to find the back of the net in 16 of their 38 matches overall and did not score more than twice in a game all season - the first club to ever achieve that dubious feat and not be relegated from the Premier League.

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson pictured in June 2020© Reuters

The oldest manager in Premier League history, 73-year-old Roy Hodgson shows no sign of his enthusiasm for the job waning despite his advancing years and signed a new contract earlier this year to take him through to next summer.

Palace's league positions have been getting worse since his arrival in 2017 - from 11th in his first season to 12th in his second and then 14th last term - but he has safely steered the Eagles away from danger in each campaign so far.

That is no mean feat considering he took over a Palace team that had got off to a dreadful start in the season he arrived, while in 2018-19 he led the club to their highest ever Premier League points tally.

Key player: Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha pictured on July 26, 2020© Reuters

Wilfried Zaha has made no secret of his desire to leave Crystal Palace for a bigger club and whether he stays at Selhurst Park for the entire 2020-21 campaign remains to be seen.

However, while he is still at Palace there is no doubt that he is their main man, despite a relatively underwhelming season last term.

Zaha featured in every Premier League game in 2019-20 but scored only four goals and registered five assists - a return he will be expected to improve upon wherever he plays this term.

Summer transfer business

Crystal Palace winger Eberechi Eze in action during 2020-21 pre-season© Reuters

Nathan Ferguson (free, West Bromwich Albion)
Eberechi Eze (£16m, Queens Park Rangers)
Michy Batshuayi (loan, Chelsea)
Nathaniel Clyne (free, Liverpool)
Jack Butland (£1m, Stoke City)

Ryan Inniss (undisclosed, Charlton Athletic)
Stephen Henderson (released)
Jason Lokilo (free, Doncaster Rovers)
Alexander Sorloth (£18m, RB Leipzig)
Jaroslaw Jach (loan, Fortuna Sittard)

Crystal Palace total spent to date: £17m
Crystal Palace total received to date: £18m

Crystal Palace net transfer balance: £1m


2. Joel Ward (DF)
3. Patrick van Aanholt (DF)
4. Luka Milivojevic (MF)
5. James Tomkins (DF)
6. Scott Dann (DF)
7. Max Meyer (MF)
8. Cheikhou Kouyate (MF)
9. Jordan Ayew (FW)
10. Andros Townsend (FW)
11. Wilfried Zaha (FW)
12. Mamadou Sakho (DF)
13. Wayne Hennessey (GK)
15. Jeffrey Schlupp (DF)
17. Christian Benteke (FW)
18. James McArthur (MF)
19. Stephen Henderson (GK)
21. Connor Wickham (FW)
22. James McCarthy (MF)
23. Michy Batshuayi (FW)
24. Gary Cahill (DF)
27. Tyrick Mitchell (DF)
31. Vicente Guaita (GK)
33. Jaroslaw Jach (DF)
34. Martin Kelly (DF)
35. Sam Woods (DF)
36. Nikola Tavares (DF)
37. Nya Kirby (MF)
39. Eberechi Eze (FW)
40. Brandon Pierrick (MF)
41. John-Kymani Gordon (FW)
42. Malachi Boateng (MF)
44. Jairo Riedewald (DF)
- Nathan Ferguson

Possible starting XI


Fixture list

Crystal Palace open their campaign up at home to 2019-20 away specialists Southampton before a difficult visit to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in their first away game of the season.

A trip to rivals Brighton & Hove Albion awaits in their fifth outing, while December sees them face three of last season's top six.

It is a difficult end to the season too - nine of their last 10 matches come against teams that finished higher than them in 2019-20, including May home games against Manchester City and Arsenal and a final-day trip to face champions Liverpool at Anfield.

Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend in action with Manchester United's Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the Premier League on July 16, 2020© Reuters


12: Southampton (h)

19: Manchester United (a)

26: Everton (h)


3: Chelsea (a)

17: Brighton (h)

24: Fulham (a)

31: Wolves (a)


7: Leeds (h)

21: Burnley (a)

28: Newcastle (h)

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on January 19. 2019.© Reuters


5: West Brom (a)

12: Tottenham (h)

15: West Ham (a)

19: Liverpool (h)

26: Aston Villa (a)

28: Leicester (h)


2: Sheffield United (h)

12: Arsenal (a)

16: Manchester City (a)

27: West Ham (h)

30: Wolves (h)


3: Newcastle (a)

6: Leeds (a)

13: Burnley (h)

20: Brighton (a)

27: Fulham (h)

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane scores against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on July 26, 2020© Reuters


6: Tottenham (a)

13: West Brom (h)

20: Manchester United (h)


3: Everton (a)

10: Chelsea (h)

17: Southampton (a)

24: Leicester (a)

Aston Villa's Trezeguet scores against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on July 12, 2020© Reuters


1: Manchester City (h)

8: Sheffield United (a)

12: Aston Villa (h)

15: Arsenal (h)

23: Liverpool (a)

Prediction: 13th

Without such a poor end to the season last term, Palace could have easily gatecrashed the top half and they will only hope to have improved with the additions of Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson - two signings which should help to freshen up an ageing squad.

If Zaha does stay then Hodgson will be hoping for more goals from his star man, which would go a long way to fixing the major problem they had last season.

A top-half finish may still elude them - it is set to be a fierce battle for those spots this season - but we do not foresee Palace having too many concerns about relegation.

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Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha reacts on March 7, 2020
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