Match Preview: Crystal Palace v AFCB
Blogger Interview: The Eagles Beak
This week we had the chance to chat with Jay Crame who jointly edits the Palace site The Eagles Beak. I have a confession to make in that visiting Selhurst Park is always something I look forward to as it is only about 40 minutes drive from my house or a quick train trip. But even with that convenience, I would rather travel down to Bournemouth most Saturdays to watch the team that means everything to me. But what does Jay think about the club he loves and the start they have made to this season?
CC: Are Palace fans as gutted as AFCB supporters that this is already a bottom of the table clash?
TEB: Perhaps but it is very early days indeed. I think most fans were expecting to win the opening game against the Baggies but lose the trip to Spurs, so I guess we are a win behind where we should be. The start of any season is always quite odd in terms of expectations as you hope new signings gel immediately but they often need time. Puts a little more onus on our clash as we will want to pick up a point or three going into the international break.
CC: How unlucky were Palace in their two games against Spurs and WBA as you seemed to have been victims of late goals in these games?
TEB: Against West Brom we played well in the first half and had we scored I am convinced that we would have gone on to win the game. You know what you are going to get against a Tony Pulis side, more so having seen what he did at Palace. The longer the game went on without us scoring you could just see them scoring from a set piece which is exactly what they did. The performance against Spurs was better but it was the very same result, late set piece proving the difference. One thing is clear, Palace are hard to break down but need to be much more clinical with chances that come our way.
CC: Do you think the side has fully recovered after the defeat to Man Utd in the FA Cup semi-final and the loss of form at the end of last season?
TEB: The league form in 2016 has been absolutely horrendous and there really is little excuse and it is foolish to think that the start of a new season wipes the slate clean. The fact is, these opening two games have continued in similar vein and that is the last thing Alan Pardew would have wanted. It sounds crazy but he is under pressure to get a result now as the fans are becoming restless. You cannot ignore the form that got us to the cup final though which is proof that we can get results against Premier League sides. Maybe we just need to go back to treating every game as a cup tie!
CC: Is the £27m spent on Benteke well spent or would you have preferred a quicker striker like Berahino for that kind of money?
TEB: Having seen Benteke make his debut for Palace against Blackpool in the League Cup the initial signs are good. He showed glimpses of what we can expect - strong in the air, agile and has quick feet. It was only forty-five minutes but it certainly wets the appetite. Is any player worth that kind of money? I don't believe so but football is in a world of its own and being in the top division you just have to try and keep up while trying to keep on the straight and narrow. I would never have said Palace would shell out this amount of money on a player which has smashed our transfer record but I'm hopefully that it will be a very wise addition.
CC: Was Conner Wickham the right striker to keep considering that Palace let Dwight Gayle go to Newcastle in the summer?
TEB: We seem destined to play a formation that will be much more midfield orientated with a lone striker. Dwight Gayle is a natural goalscorer but he struggles to play the loan striker role. He tried but it just did not work out. He will score 20+ goals in the Championship this season, no doubt about it so I will be intrigued to see how he does on a potential return to the Premier League. Connor Wickham plays the loan striker well but he need support from the midfield which he has not had in the two league games so far. Now he has Benteke to compete with which should make him up his game, in fact, he did just that against Blackpool, scored minutes after replacing the Belgian.
CC: Has the departure of Jedinak to leave for Aston Villa left the team more exposed?
TEB: It is telling that Mile did not sign for another Premier League side and facing facts, he would not make our first eleven with everyone fit. He goes with our very best wishes as he been a huge part of where we find ourselves today but however much I do not like saying it, there is always a time for a player to move on and this was his.
CC: Was the Yannick Bolasie move (£28m according to Sky Sports) good for Palace and is Andros Townsend a good enough replacement?
TEB: I am confident that the purchase of Townsend was not to replace Bolasie but it did soften the deal going through as it looked as though we did. The fee was too much to turn down and while many think we should no longer be a selling club, every player has their price. It is a great deal for Palace but while Bolasie is an exciting player, at the same time he is frustrating but that is what you have to put up with from skillful, wide players. He really needs to learn to perform more often as with the price-tag there is no doubt that the Everton fans will not be as patient as the Palace fans have been with him.
CC: Is Pardew the right man to lead Crystal Palace to a top 10 finish?
TEB: That is a hard question to answer at the moment with the possibility of a couple more players expected to come in before the transfer window ends. We are likely to have the personnel to push for a top 10 finish but I would prefer that we put an end to this wretched form we have been on since the start of the year. With Benteke on board now, I am sure he will add a new dimension to the team as well as that boost that we can actually score goals.
CC: Which three clubs do you think will be relegated from the Premier League this season?
TEB: This is a massive season both at the top and bottom of the table. It is likely to be close at both ends too but for me, the three that I think will go down are Hull City, Burnley and Sunderland.
CC: What formation do you expect Pardew to play against AFC Bournemouth and do you expect many changes from the starting line up in the last game?
TEB: The classic one up front formation with Benteke starting in that role while hopefully we will see the return of James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye to the starting line up. Many, including myself want to see Steve Mandanda replace Hennessey in goal but we may have to wait a couple more games for that.
CC: What do you think the score will be between the Eagles and AFCB?
TEB: We owe you one from last season and with the addition of Benteke, Palace will just edge it 2-1
CC: Thank you Jay for your thoughtful answers. I am pleased to hear that there is optimism in your words and the season is as you say two-games young. AFCB and Palace need to improve fast though and I get the feeling this could already be a 'six pointer' or at least steer one of the sides in the right direction and the other one into a more despondent mood. I'm backing AFCb to get a win though for the first time this season having suggested that they would lose their first two games. It's a 1-2 away win for me - same as last season!
Make sure you have a read of The Eagles Beak. There are not so many Crystal Palace sites and this one is a good one with views on Christian Benteke and the departed Jedinek who will be playing his football with Tommy Elphick this season and the Villa.
Premier Talk: Have the BBC got it right with another Premier League show?
Transfer News - Ben Whitfield has joined Yeovil Town until January.