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The inside track on Crystal Palace...

Posted on 17 August 2016  - 18:45

Our new feature 'inside track' continues as Mark Ritson, Palace reporter for the Croydon Advertiser, gives us the lowdown on the men from Selhurst Park ahead of Saturday's Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane.

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Mark Ritson, Croydon Advertiser

Mark Ritson200x300What have you made of Palace’s summer and what did you learn from the first Premier League game, a 1-0 loss against West Brom on Saturday?
Mark Ritson:
"In terms of signings, they have been quite clever with the arrivals of Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Steve Mandanda. In today’s transfer market, they picked up excellent value for money. They are desperate for strikers, though. They are after at least two, but it’s probably the toughest market as everyone is after a 15-20 goal hitman - and they cost big money. Against West Brom, they started well but petered out. There was a lack of quality in the final third and they were undone from a set-play. Maybe it’s far too early to judge, but it hasn’t filled the fans with great optimism."

How have the new signings settled? Spurs fans will be particularly interested in Andros Townsend’s form...
Mark:
"Indeed, they will. Andros has settled in really well and I think he’ll be a big hit after a run of games. It looks like he will be one of the first names on the teamsheet, so he’ll definitely start on Saturday. He has a lot of affection for Spurs but will be gunning for three points for his new club, of course. James Tomkins is a long-term signing - at 27 he’s nearly reaching his prime and has so much experience in the top flight. But we haven’t seen much of him yet as he got injured on his first game in pre-season. Steve Mandanda has been one of the best goalkeepers in Europe for the last several years, so it’s great to see him in the Premier League. I think we’ll see him come in once Wayne Hennessey makes a mistake or two. I’ve heard he’s grasping the English language as well, so it might not be until September/October that we see him properly."

How much of a loss is Yannick Bolasie, who joined Everton this week?
Mark:
"A fairly big loss. He would put in a shift and entertain the fans, but his lack of goals was a factor. He will need to be more consistent for the amount of money Everton have paid for him. A few fans were questioning where he would have fitted in this season, with Townsend on the right and Wilfried Zaha on the left. Bolasie’s biggest strength was receiving the ball and hitting teams on the break - Palace were devastating with him and Zaha running at defenders."

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How is Palace boss Alan Pardew - pictured above - likely to set his team up at White Hart Lane? Are there any players definitely out?
Mark:
"I think we’ll see one man up front - but then they only have one fit striker in Connor Wickham. Hennessey will be in goal, with Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney and Pape Souare in defence. We could see Yohan Cabaye return after his extra time off from the European Championships, and he could be partnered by either Joe Ledley or Jason Puncheon, now that Mile Jedinak has moved to Villa. Townsend and Zaha will be out wide, with Wickham up top. James McArthur, Fraizer Campbell and Tomkins will not feature."

What are your thoughts on Spurs and how do you see Saturday's game panning out?
Mark:
"Tottenham will be up there again this season. Top five, for me. Even though he’s been fantastic, it feels like Harry Kane needs to prove himself again after Euro 2016. This could be Erik Lamela’s season, while Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen will provide extra creativity. Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier holding that midfield will definitely allow those front players to do damage. As for Saturday, I can’t see anything but a Spurs win. You’re at home, yes, but there is a feeling Palace are in disarray right now, selling players who helped get them to where they are and not bringing in a striker or two all summer. Tottenham to win 2-0."