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First team

Media view: Expert insight on Crystal Palace


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they face Premier League rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tomorrow (7.30pm kick-off).

The Eagles are currently 11th in the table, one place higher and two points better off than the Cherries after 14 games.

Goals from Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp earned them a 2-0 win at Burnley on Saturday, their first victory in six Premier League games.

The triumph at Turf Moor ended a run of five tough games which saw them defeated by Liverpool, Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester City and draw 2-2 at Arsenal.

Palace won four of their first eight games in the Premier League – against Manchester United, Aston Villa, Norwich and West Ham – and drew against Everton and Wolves.

They have found league goals hard to come by this season, with only bottom-placed Watford having scored fewer than their tally of 13, which is matched by Newcastle.

Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Matt Woosnam, who covers the fortunes of Palace for The Athletic.

afcb.co.uk: Is 11th place and 18 points after 14 games a fair reflection of Palace’s season so far?

MW: I think it is. Palace had a really tough run of games against the top teams recently and those results countered the good ones they had at the start of the season.

Before winning at Burnley on Saturday, they had taken one point from five games, having picked up 14 from their first eight.

They have had a decent enough start to the season and will be happy with where they are after 14 games.

afcb.co.uk: In your opinion, what would represent a successful season under Roy Hodgson (pictured above)?

MW: That’s a difficult one. They will certainly be looking at the top half or the mid-table area. Anywhere between eighth and 14th I would say but it’s hard to pinpoint a specific position.

They finished 11th with 44 points last season and that was one of their highest in a 38-game season.

The best of the rest, outside the European spots, would be a potentially realistic ambition.

I’m not saying they will necessarily end up doing that but they are in a position where they can avoid the relegation scrap.

I don’t think they were in the bottom three at all last season and I don’t think they will becoming embroiled in a battle to stay up this season. 

afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either injured or suspended?

MW: Gary Cahill missed the Burnley game and I don’t think he’ll be back. He’s had a very good start to his Palace career and has been very solid and dependable. He has a wealth of experience and has used that to guide the defence, in particular Patrick van Aanholt at left-back.

Martin Kelly is expected to fill in at right-back because Joel Ward is out and Palace don’t have another recognised right-back.

With Cahill out, Palace could be struggling at centre-back. Mamadou Sakho will probably come in but he’s not fully fit yet so that might be a bit problematic.

They are just about managing to fill those gaps.

afcb.co.uk: League goals have been a problem for Palace – can you put your finger on why?

MW: I think it’s the set up. Palace tend to play a more defensive, rigid and solid style.

It’s hard for them to progress with pace and to get the ball to their wide men. They play quite narrow despite having Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend on the wings.

Jordan Ayew has done really well but he’s not a 15 to 20-goal-a-season Premier League striker. They don’t have a prolific goalscorer this season.

They haven’t missed too many chances but creating them has been a bit of a problem, mainly because of the way they play.

They are set up not to concede goals rather than score them. They look to score on the break or capitalise on mistakes like they did at Burnley so it’s mostly down to that.

afcb.co.uk: On current form, who is Palace’s player to watch?

MW: Zaha (pictured above). He’s had a resurgence recently. He was very quiet at the start of the season, did the odd bit here and there and bamboozled a few players but, ultimately, he only managed one goal and one assist.

He scored at Burnley on Saturday and it was a good finish. Phil Bardsley had a lot of trouble trying to contain him and he has started to come into form.

Everyone knows how good he is and how good he can be so I guess for Bournemouth it will be about stopping Palace playing through him and making sure they don’t let him run at their defence.

afcb.co.ukHow do you see the game panning out?

MW: It’s always difficult with Palace. I don’t think it’ll be an open game and certainly nothing like the final game of last season which they won 5-3!

I anticipate it being a relatively cagey affair and can’t see there being too many goals. If you asked me to pick a result, I would pick a draw. I think defences will probably come out on top.

But I think it really depends on how Bournemouth marshal Zaha and Townsend, presuming Townsend will start, which I think he will.

afcb.co.ukWhat’s your score prediction?

MW: I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.

You can follow Matt on Twitter – @MattWoosie

Match officials: Anthony Taylor (referee), Gary Beswick (assistant), Adam Nunn (assistant), Robert Jones (fourth official), Chris Kavanagh (VAR), Daniel Cook (assistant VAR).

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