Opposition View – Crystal Palace

Thanks to Matt Woosie for answering our questions this week.

How’s your season been so far?

A bit like yours, really, although a little better. A run of five games unbeaten felt like we were turning a corner under Alan Pardew and hopefully pushing on to challenge at the top half of the table, but then five defeats in a row have shaken confidence and put a downer on things again. Some performances have been good, but the defending has been atrocious as anyone who watched our games against Burnley and Manchester City will be able to testify. It’s not great, but three wins is something at least.

What were your expectations before a ball was kicked?

I think the reasonable expectation was a season of consolidation, flirting with the top half but ultimately coming up a bit short to finish mid-table. It’s fair to say those expectations have diminished somewhat since.

With your recent poor run of form, is Alan Pardew close to the sack in your opinion?

It has been documented that the winner of this game takes it all, with the losing manager facing the sack. I think that is unlikely on both counts. Bob Bradley, whilst under pressure, has not been at the Liberty for long, while Pardew, who is also under pressure, still has a few games to save his job as I understand it. That said, if there is a scoreline heavily in favour of one side on Saturday it may sound the final death knell for the losing manager – although it seems unlikely that will happen.

What did you make of your transfer business over the summer?

Our summer business looks better on paper than it does in reality. Andros Townsend looked to be a good replacement for Yannick Bolasie who left for Everton, but we needed another player who could push us on. Their styles are drastically different and we didn’t get the best winger. Townsend has flattered to deceive so far, with only short bursts of impressive moments. Christian Benteke is obviously a superb striker and Palace did well to get that marquee signing but he has not been served well enough in our system so far. James Tomkins has yet to show why Pardew was so keen to bring him in, but has been hampered by injury problems.

Who have been your star performers and who has flattered to deceive?

Wilfried Zaha has been the best performer overall, with Benteke and James McArthur close behind. The winger deserves to be in the England squad over Townsend, but his problems that arose during an England U21 match a few years ago mean that Gareth Southgate and Jordan Henderson may be reluctant for him to be in the squad. Zaha is not a universally liked player but he is a vital part of Palace’s side. As mentioned earlier, Townsend has not been on his game often enough this season, he needs to step up a gear.

What do you make of Swansea so far this term?

Haven’t seen much of Swansea but it seems Gylfi Sigurdsson is still pulling strings in midfield (can we have him in January please?), but clearly with just one win all season and having sacked your manager in October there are serious issues which leave you bottom of the league. There’s still time to turn things around and with the squad you have there is every chance of that happening.

Predict the score and where both teams will finish

2-2. Swansea to finish 15th, Palace to finish 14th