2019/20 Premier League preview - Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha once again key in a side struggling for goals

Richard Jolly runs the rule over Crystal Palace ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish

Soccer Football - FA Cup Third Round - Crystal Palace v Grimsby Town - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - January 5, 2019  Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha gestures   Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
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So far in 2019, Crystal Palace have taken more points than Chelsea. Only Manchester City and Liverpool finished the season in better form.

Yet if that could have been a platform to kick on, for the second successive summer, Palace have been smaller spenders who have instead concentrated on trying to keep Wilfried Zaha.

They have, however, lost Aaron Wan-Bissaka, with the outstanding right-back yet to be replaced, and there is the question if this will be Roy Hodgson’s final year in management.

Whether or not it is, he could do with more goals from the strikers, with the penalty-taking defensive midfielder Luka Milivojevic top-scoring last season.


Who finishes where in 2019-20?


Key player: Wilfried Zaha

As a symbol of the club and the pivotal player in the style of play, Zaha is far more important than last season's tally of 10 goals suggests, even if it was a career-best total. Palace have rebuffed offers from Arsenal and Everton and assuming he stays, it is imperative Zaha remains as motivated.

Signing to watch: Jordan Ayew

Feels an underwhelming signing after his loan spell at Selhurst Park last season produced a solitary league goal. However, Swansea’s need to get Ayew off the wage bill made him cheap and his pace and movement suits Palace’s style of play. But, with the £45m from Wan-Bissaka available, further additions feel necessary.


Talking point: Can Palace improve their home form?

Brilliant counter-attackers got as many away wins as Chelsea and Manchester United but, while Selhurst Park has a reputation as an intimidating venue, they only scored 14 goals in their first 18 home games last season.

That wretched return reflected on the failure of the strikers, Christian Benteke in particular, to capitalise on the wingers’ capacity to beat and baffle defenders; only five teams averaged more shots per home match, so Palace need to be more clinical.

Only Huddersfield Town won fewer home matches last season, but only three of the big six visit Selhurst Park before April so, in theory, Palace have winnable fixtures.

Prediction: 13th