We’ve finally arrived at the week. A summer of international football, transfer dealings, transfer rumors, and friendlies in the US. Now we get back into the rhythm of the Premier League. Season previews, predictions, and the much anticipated All or Nothing docuseries on the Gunners’ 2021-22 season. We get the fortune (and risk?) of opening the league on Friday night once again. With the Amazon series putting the Brentford opener last year fresh into our minds, can Mikel Arteta get this season off to a better start at Selhurst Park?
Last summer Crystal Palace welcomed in their new manager, and Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieira. Despite little lead-in time during the summer, Vieira led the Eagles to a comfortable 12th place finish and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Now with a full summer, a new batch of recruits, including American defender Chris Richards, can he see them into the top half of the Premier League?
With the new season upon us, it’s time to fire up another round of questions with the opposition. For the opener, we welcome back in The Eagles Beak to discuss Crystal Palace and their thoughts on Friday’s match.
TSF: Last season was Patrick Vieira's first in charge at Crystal Palace. Looking back on that season how would you rate his performance in year one and the expectations going into 2022-23?
TEB: 8/10 - There is clearly more to do but to be honest, expectations levels were completely unknown when Vieira was appointed as boss at Selhurst Park. Not only that, but he did not have much of a summer to get his feet under the desk so things were stacked against him somewhat. On that basis, to get through the season and not once look in trouble at the wrong end of the table and get to the FA Cup semi-final was phenomenal. Problem is, that is a hard act to follow but if anyone can, Vieira can, and I for one cannot wait for us to get back to it and see what is in store for us.
TSF: How do you rate Palace's summer transfer activity and in particular the American defender Chris Richards?
TEB: Very good and it follows up the very good business done very much under the radar last summer. Much was made of the players that left the club but as it turned out, Vieira coming in with a blank slate with something to build from the bottom up probably helped him a bit. This summer the recruitment has been very good, and it is clear that there is a plan in place in the eyes of Steve Parish and Dougie Freedman. With their philosophy on recruitment, they have changed an aged, tried looking squad into a youthful, entertaining bunch of players looking to go places.
TSF: Which area of the squad does the club need to reinforce before the transfer window closes?
TEB: I do think most aims have been covered in terms of what the plans were but I will be very interested to see how we replace Conor Gallagher who was exceptional in the first half of last season. It is likely that we have the players at the club now who can fulfill a similar role, but perhaps not quite the same as Gallagher. But it would not be a season in the PL without a Chelsea loanee at Palace so that could well yet come. I do think we are out of the market for Gallagher but a deal would be done for someone like Ruben Loftus-Cheek who was also a big hit at Selhurst in a previous spell.
TSF: If we get to May, what does a successful season for Crystal Place look like in terms of table positions, Cup competitions, and general performance?
TEB: For a club like Palace, staying up is always seen as the first target to hit but I would like to think we are becoming better than that and to aim that little bit higher. There was a chance of finishing in the top ten for only the second time in the PL in this current stint and I think that is extremely realistic. Having tasted going long in the Cup last season, silverware for a club like Palace is absolutely huge so why not have a go again, even the League Cup perhaps? All fans want to experience European competition and when you look at the likes of Wolves and West Ham, why can’t Palace strive for higher and to be in that mix?
TSF: The league opens with the match at Selhurst Park on Friday and the crowd should be electric. What is your prediction for the Palace's starting XI and a final scoreline?
TEB: Looking forward to it - opening night on a Friday evening at Selhurst Park should get us all going nicely. The atmosphere will be intense as ever but more so being the first game back after the summer. I do think Vieria will go a bit safe in terms of his line up and new signings will be blooded as the season progresses so expect a familiar lineup, apart from who replaces Gallagher which I suspect will be Eze or Schlupp. I think it will be an entertaining 1-1 to get us both underway for the new campaign.
Thanks again to The Eagles Beak for talking with us ahead of the match.