Our team-by-team guide to the new Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season continues with this preview of Crystal Palace.
It is the end of an era at Selhurst Park, with Roy Hodgson’s departure as manager preceding 11 first-team players effectively leaving the club after contracts ended – though Christian Benteke (£6.5m) and Joel Ward (£4.5m) did pen new deals this summer.
The Eagles were relatively comfortable in their bid to remain in the Premier League last season, finishing 14th on 44 points.
Despite being thought of as defence-first unit under Hodgson, only relegated side West Brom (76) and Southampton (68) conceded more goals than Crystal Palace (66) in 2020/21.
The New Vi-era
If Hodgson was a defensively-minded coach, the signs are that new manager Patrick Vieira will focus more on attack.
However, his Nice side were based on possession and being hard to break down rather than any sort of offensive verve.
You can read a full profile of the former Arsenal midfielder via the link below:
|Crystal Palace attacking stats||Total||Rank v other PL teams|
|Shots in the box||224||18th|
|Shots on target||131||16th|
|Expected goals (xG)||34.49||19th|
The attacking numbers from last season will not make for pretty reading in Vieira’s Palace in-tray.
One positive in terms of going forward was that penalty taker Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) had his best goalscoring campaign in 2020/21, netting on 11 occasions including two spot-kicks.
Just three of those were scored from January onwards, however, with the Ivory Coast international missing a month’s action in February due to injury.
Zaha logged just two regular assists over the campaign, though did rack up an ‘expected assists’ (xA) figure of 3.85.
Palace’s top assister (eight) from last season was Eberechi Eze (£6.0m), who will not be back in action anytime soon after rupturing his Achilles in May.
Eze created more chances than any other Eagles player last season but some context is needed: his minutes-per-key pass average (60) was inferior to 50 other Fantasy midfielders.
Recruitment is, unsurprisingly, going to be one of Vieira’s biggest tasks during pre-season. Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish said on July 4:
We have a lot to do to prepare in the coming weeks and I look forward to working closely with Patrick and Dougie (Freedman) in bringing in some new faces to help us all to a successful season.
One new face already in the door is Michael Olise (£5.5m). In 46 Championship appearances for Reading last season, the attacking midfielder scored seven times and notched 12 assists.
“I had a conversation with the manager and he was talking about how he sees me in the team: the plans, the development and the vision for the club. It’s very good, so I thought it was a good fit.” – Michael Olise
With a paper-thin squad and a lack of creators at the moment, Olise could be expected to make the Premier League step-up from the off at Selhurst Park.
“I think [my role] is to make him do what he’s doing best: enjoying his football on the field, scoring goals, going forwards and playing with personality. He’s got that in his locker.
“I think it’s important to refresh the squad: to bring some new faces, to bring young talent to this football club. This is a really good signing for us. Of course, there will be more signings coming.” – Patrick Vieira
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