Ian Holloway’s substantial summer shopping spree saw the Crystal Palace boss swing by the Madejski on deadline-day to snap up Adrian Mariappa. The centre-half arrives from Reading for a fee believed to be in the region of £2.5m and is one of 16 new faces to roll up to Selhurst Park since the end of last season.
Speaking to the club’s official website, the 26-year-old admitted he was relieved to be back in the top-flight after dropping into the Championship with the relegated Royals last time around:
“I’m delighted to be joining Palace and playing in the Premier League again. It’s something everyone dreams of doing. Playing there last season was a great challenge as it is the biggest league in the world and you’re playing against the best players, so when this opportunity came to me I jumped at it. Selhurst Park is always a great place to play, the atmosphere has always been amazing and I’ve had some great games against this club. I want to prove I can play at this level an I’m sure that will be the same for everyone in the squad as we aim to stay in the Premier League.”
A product of the Watford youth system, Mariappa made his debut for the Hornets towards the end of the 2005/06 campaign. The defender took some time to establish himself in the first-team, though, making 44 appearances (with 14 off the bench) across the following couple of seasons before finally nailing down a regular role in 2008/09.
Over the next four league campaigns, Mariappa turned out 169 times for the Vicarage Road club, producing four goals and three assists, before Reading snapped him up in the summer of 2012. He then featured on 29 occasions for the Royals last time out but fell out of favour under Nigel Adkins and has yet to see any league action this term. On the international stage, Mariappa has represented Jamaica 12 times since making his debut last year.
At present, it’s uncertain just where Mariappa stands in the Palace pecking order. Holloway has started Danny Gabbidon and Damien Delaney at centre-half in all three league fixtures thus far but the new boy’s mobility at the back could well see him get the edge over the less agile Gabbidon, with Mariappa’s speed ensuring the Eagles are perhaps a little less susceptible to balls played over the top.
Given that Holloway’s side have yet to earn a clean sheet, their defensive appeal is mainly down to price. Coming in at a mere 4.0 in Fantasy Premier league (FPL), Mariappa could be on the radar of those Fantasy managers on the lookout for a bargain but with three of their current back-four – Gabbidon, Joel Ward and Dean Moxey – all similarly priced, his acquisition looks a little too risky until Holloway’s plans are a little more concrete.
With Hull’s 4.0 priced centre-half James Chester looking nailed-on, twinning the Tigers centre-half with a Palace defender would give you a run of home fixtures that includes (CAR, SWA, WHM, AVL, FUL, SUN, EVE, CPL) in eight of the next nine Gameweeks. An enticing schedule, no doubt, but given that Gabbidon grabbed a goal in the Gameweek 3 win over Sunderland, Mariappa may have to wait his turn just yet. Nevertheless, the new boy’s arrival will cause a little concern to the Welshman’s 30,000+ new owners and, with Moxey’s game time soon to be under threat as Jonathan Parr gradually regains his fitness at left-back, it may well leave right-back Ward as the most secure option for those bold enough to take a punt on Holloway’s backline.
Ward’s game time looks more nailed-on than ever following the news that summer signing Jack Hunt has already been ruled out due to a broken ankle less than a fortnight after joining the club.