Crystal Palace had hoped to take their Premier League status up a notch last season, but unfortunately, things did not go as planned.
Patrick Vieira’s appointment to replace Roy Hodgson in the dugout raised questions, and rightly so, as the Frenchman nearly proved to be the architect of the club’s downfall.
However, Hodgson’s return to Selhurst Park was a smart move by the Palace board as the experienced manager turned their fortunes around and steered the club to their customary mid-table finish.
This could be the year Palace finally push into the upper ranks of the Premier League, but it remains to be seen if they can build on the progress they made last season.
Here is our Palace season preview for 2023/24. You can also check out our detailed Premier League season previews for all 20 teams.
Palace kick off their 2023/24 campaign with a trip to Bramall Lane to face newly-promoted Sheffield United on August 12.
They then host last season’s runners-up Arsenal at Selhurst Park the following week before heading to West London to face Brentford in their final August fixture.
Palace face a tough run of games in December. They take on Liverpool (H) and Manchester City (A) before hosting fierce rivals Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park.
They close out the month with consecutive London derby clashes against Chelsea (A) on Boxing Day and Brentford at home.
Palace kick off 2024 with a trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal. They travel to the Amex Stadium for their return clash against Brighton on February 3.
The Eagles round off the season by facing Manchester United in South London on May 4 before a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on May 11. They play host to Aston Villa in their final fixture on May 19.
Palace couldn’t have asked for a more experienced manager than Hodgson to rescue the club from a relegation scrap during Vieira’s ill-fated tenure.
The Englishman arrived on a short-term contract, but his exploits forced the club to extend his stay in South London by a year, which will undoubtedly inspire confidence in the locker room.
Hodgson will stretch his remarkable 47-year managerial career when he takes charge of Palace’s Premier League curtain raiser against United three days after his 76th birthday.
With the Eagles keen to push their boundaries and break into the top half of the table for the first time in eight years, Hodgson could be the right man to help them realise their ambitions.
However, there is also a chance the club could plummet down the league standings. But their summer business on the transfer market will determine their fate.
Palace are yet to dip into their purse this summer, but they have added a new face to the team with Jefferson Lerma joining on a free transfer from Bournemouth.
The 28-year-old defensive midfielder spent five years at the Vitality Stadium, making 184 appearances for the Cherries while contributing 12 goals and eight assists.
Lerma was initially brought in to support Cheick Doucoure in defensive midfield, but he could end up replacing the Malian midfielder, who is attracting interest from Liverpool.
Several players have left Selhurst Park, but Wilfried Zaha’s exit will be the biggest blow for the South Londoners.
The Ivory Coast international has been a one-man wrecking ball for the Eagles over the years, and his departure will surely leave a mark on the team.
James McArthur, Luka Milivojevic, and Jack Butland are among the other players who have left Palace, but there could be more, with Michael Olise and Doucoure linked to top clubs in the division.
Palace have already lost one key player this summer, and they can’t afford to lose others without suitable replacements.
They will need more reinforcement from the transfer market to avoid slipping into a relegation tussle this year.
Palace’s lack of activity in the transfer market means their default line-up shouldn’t see too many changes.
After one win in four games toward the end of last season, Hodgson switched from Palace’s customary 4-3-3 set-up to a 4-2-3-1, and it bore fruit with the Eagles picking up five points from the final three games.
Sam Johnstone and Vicente Guaita managed 111 saves between them last season. They also registered a combined nine clean sheets.
However, Johnstone was Hodgson’s preferred candidate between the sticks and should retain his place as the starting goalkeeper.
Tyrick Mitchell, Joachim Andersen, Marc Guehi, and Joel Ward formed a core part of the Palace defence that conceded 49 goals last term, but they will be keen to better that record this year.
Doucoure should continue his impressive partnership with Will Hughes at the base of the midfield, with Olise, Michael Eze and Jordan Ayew playing ahead of them.
Odsonne Edouard has struggled to replicate his impressive form for Celtic in South London thus far but should lead the attack again this season.
The 25-year-old will be eager to better his paltry statistics from the previous year after registering just five goals in 35 league outings.
Here is our prediction for Palace’s strongest starting XI next season:
4-2-3-1: Johnstone; Mitchell, Guehi, Andersen, Ward; Hughes, Doucoure; Ayew, Eze, Olise; Edouard.
When looking at Palace’s squad in recent years, it was easy to identify Zaha as their star player, with the Ivorian consistently standing out as a top performer for the team.
However, his departure opens the door for a new hero to emerge.
Based on his impressive performances last season, our money is on Eze to light up Selhurst Park and the Premier League this season.
The 25-year-old was one of several players who took their game to new heights under Hodgson after scoring six times in his last nine games of the season.
His dazzling performances earned him a first cap for the Three Lions, and the Englishman should help cushion the blow of Zaha’s departure, assuming he can keep injuries at bay.
Last season, Palace risked throwing all their hard work in the top flight down the drain, but Hodgson’s return helped maintain a solid foundation for them to build upon.
However, with Zaha leaving, their transfer activity has to be spot on in order to avoid being left behind by their rivals this season.
Despite Zaha’s departure, Palace still boasts a strong squad. However, losing another key player like Olise without a proper replacement could further complicate their chances of breaking into the top half.
They will do well to avoid another relegation scare, but hovering around their customary mid-table placement shouldn’t be too much to ask.
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