Premier League profile 2015/16: Crystal Palace
If a summer of two transfer coups is any indicator, Crystal Palace are set to make the third Premier League season on their current top-flight stint the most memorable yet.
Coral make the Eagles 6/4 to crash the top 10, and that is an achievable aim for Alan Pardew, who worked wonders upon his emotional winter return to Selhurst Park. A hero of the club’s early 1990s heyday, he has built upon the solid work of predecessors Neil Warnock, Tony Pulis and Ian Holloway to establish Palace in the Premier League.
Where the Eagles dare to go next under prodigal son Pardew will make for an absorbing story, but the latest chapter of this south London saga suggests a bright future on a nearing horizon. Palace signing Yohan Cabaye could just be the best done deal of this transfer window to date.
When on Newcastle United’s books, such was the France international midfielder’s talent that he tried to force a move to Arsenal through. Six months later he ended up at PSG – a place where Cabaye never really established himself. That does not diminish the abundant all-round qualities he demonstrated on Tyneside, however.
Now it’s the Eagles who have swooped and can reap those rewards, helping Cabaye to rediscover such fine form that made him the talk of the Toon. Cabaye’s capture sends out a serious message and, a short while after, Patrick Bamford followed suit on loan from Chelsea.
The star of a so-nearly season for Middlesbrough last term, England Under-21 international attacker Bamford was voted Championship player of the year for 2014/15. Testing himself at Premier League level is the next step in his career and, in many ways, he is a typical player to the Palace philosophy.
An experienced core of seasoned pros, including long-serving stopper Julian Speroni, first-choice centre back pairing Damien Delaney and Scott Dann, and midfield duo Mile Jedinak and Cabaye, forms a solid spine around which genuine wide and attacking talent is allowed to flourish.
Bamford is just the latest in a long line of such players at the Eagles, which over the last decade have included Wayne Routledge, Victor Moses, Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha. It’s that latter pair that he will be competing with for a first XI place on the flanks, not to mention Glenn Murray, Dwight Gayle, Marouane Chamakh and Fraizer Campbell up front.
There is surprising strength in depth to the Selhurst squad, with competition in pretty much every position creating a healthy environment and selection dilemmas for Pardew. Speroni boasts brilliant backup between the sticks in Wayne Hennessey and latest arrival Alex McCarthy.
Behind Dann and Delaney in defence is Brede Hangeland, a handy veteran to have, while in midfield James McArthur and Joe Ledley form a best of British alternative to Jedinak and Cabaye.
So, Palace have a proven playmaker with options aplenty to find and cover in case an injury crisis decimates their ranks. What’s not to like? That 6/4 price on them cracking the top half is worth a substantial stake from punters.