It’s almost been two seasons for the boys from Selhurst Park with the fans enduring a confusing first few months to their return to the top tier of English football.
Manager Ian Holloway was rumoured to be leaving after bringing in a plethora of new faces in the summer transfer window and the club were looking like they were in for a season of struggle. After Holloway left, it took a month for the club to search and deliberate but they finally settles on the man with Tony Pulis. The capture was heralded as a top signing from pundits after the manager’s work at former club Stoke and despite many discussions about the style of play Pulis implements into his team, there’s no doubt that since his arrival, Selhurst Park has become a tough place to visit.
In fact the job that Pulis has done since his arrival has seen many call for him to be manager of the year but that accolade will surely go to Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers or the impressive Roberto Martinez of Everton. Crystal Palace pose a difficult task when they head to the Boleyn Ground, with both teams mainly opting for similar styles of long balls to target men. That’s not to say either team can’t mix it up at points during the game, the likes of Puncheon for the visitors and Diame for the home side give each an exciting option in attack.
One Palace signing that Hammers fans would’ve been interested by last summer was the arrival of Chamakh from Arsenal. After a difficult time at the Gunners, the centre forward arrived on a loan at Upton Park last season for the end of season run in. It’s safe to say he was mightily unimpressive when Big Sam gave him his very few chances.
The Moroccan international has endeared himself to the Selhurst Park faithful with his work rate and has notched five strikes, but has become an important player for the Eagles with his hold up play and linking the ball to the likes of Puncheon and Cameron Jerome. Palace were tipped to struggle this season after losing star player Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United but as Pulis did so successfully at Stoke, he has created a great team ethic that must be admired as he pulled the club out of the relegation battle and on their way to safety.
The January transfer window was vital for the Eagles, bringing in Joe Ledley, making Puncheon’s loan permanent and bringing in quality competition for the goalkeepers’ position by signing Wayne Hennessey from Wolverhampton Wanderers to challenge club number one Julian Speroni. It might not be the prettiest game of football when Palace arrive at the Boleyn Ground but it will put both team’s fight and spirit to the test.