Serieledande Liverpool reser till London under lördagen för att ta sig an Roy Hodgsons Crystal Palace. Här berättar Dan(@palacedann) från Eagles Beak(@TheEaglesBeak) om hur säsongen varit hittills.
1. Tell us a bit about the start of the season, are you satisfied with what the team has done so far?
When you consider that had we beaten West Ham in midweek it would have been our best start to a season for 29 years then yes, pretty good actually. Having said that, there is a general feeling that we could have done better and Roy Hodgson does often take the brunt of that. I do of course get that as the defeats to Burnley and Newcastle were awful losses but let us be honest here, not even Liverpool can go through a season without losing games so neither should we be expecting that.
2. Roy Hodgson has been at your club for a while now, has anything changed in the way you play this season?
Not particularly, we are still using the same tried and tested approach by being difficult to break down and you know just what you are going to get from a Hodgson side which suits us. He took on the job at a very tough time nad provided stability so he must take the plaudits for doing that but there is always the view of ‘what if’ and by that I mean a club like Palace pushing on. I have always said you have to be careful what you wish for as clubs bigger than us have been in this position and ended up dropping like a stone. There is a very fine line as we would all like a European trip but the general feeling is that this season we have one of the best squads we have had for some time with options which gives plenty of options even though our style of play remains the same. Just look at what Eberechi Eze has given us this season, taken some pressure off Wilfried Zaha and looking a confident, skillful asset that can really do something out of nothing.
3. There were many rumours about Zaha this summer, but he is still at Palace. How important is he to your team?
Wilf is hugely important to us, the statistics around Palace losing without him are hard to read as we rely on him so much. This season more than in recent years he has hit form by scoring goals and creating assists, he is the real deal and it amazes me that a big side have not taken a punt on him, it would less of a punt that United took all those years ago but we will continue to benefit from that. He is 28 now so it looks like he may have missed the boat on that front but he entertains the fans most weeks and has a big hand in how we play. It does make us a little on dimensional from that perspective but having seen the way he, Eze, Schlupp all play in recent weeks with a confident Benteke leading the line, we can hopefully more away from that reliance and give others a chance to have an impact and not always Wilf.
4. Former Liverpool-player Christian Benteke scored two goals recently, after having a couple of tough seasons, do you think he is on his way back to his best or do you want him replaced?
You got to love Christian and many Palace fans really feel for him in recent years. He is a very likeable character as it ha sbeen fantastic to see him finally get a run in the team and hit the goal trail. That is is the issue though, he does this and gets the bad luck he did against West Ham and gets sent off for two very dubious bookings, both for an elbow which neither were anything of the sort (don’t get me started!) so he misses the game against you guys this weekend which is a real shame as he would have loved to have put in a performance against you when he has been in this form. Hopefully though, he has turned a corner and uses this weekend as a well earned break, however frustrating it is.
5. What are your expectations on Palace this season?
With the squad that we have and the start that we have made and the fact that anyone can beat anyone in what is shaping up to be an odd season, I am hoping for a top ten finish. Our highest was 10th during the Tony Pulis reign and this is a very talented squad of players that could surprise a few people. Having said that, there is always that bad result in them, like Burnley and Newcastle!
6. How has your summer signings performed so far?
The eye catching signing was Eberechi Eze who is an absolute star and arrived from QPR. He had a good season in the Championship last time out and does not look out of place at all in the Premier League so hoping for really big thinigs for the England youth international. So easy on the eye when in possession and always looking to make ground quickly with what looks like the ball stuck to his feet. Other signings have been Nathaniel Clyne who was a last minute addition but has made a real impact at right back this season. It has taken him a while to get up to match fitness but good to have him back. Jack Butland is an excellent signing, particularly for the money and is more than an able back up for Vicente Guaita and certainly a future number one. The other to note is Nathan Ferguson from West Brom who is a young full back but has yet to make his debut due to a knee injury but his time will come and we are keen to see him in a Palace shirt. All in all, a decent summer and brought the much maligned average age down!
7. What kind of game do you expect against Liverpool?
Tough game, with the Reds returning to the top of the league in midweek, Palace will be up against it. The big miss will be Benteke and he will be hard to replace in view of how we have played since he returned to the starying line up but I expect Wilf and Ebe to cause Liverpool a few problems and if we can take the lead, we will have a chance.