Crystal Palace’s season so far – Premier League restart preview with Clinton Morrison exclusive Q&A

Your complete guide to Crystal Palace's 2019/20 season so far featuring an exclusive chat with Clinton Morrison

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace continue to sit pretty in the Premier League under the dutiful stewardship of Roy Hodgson, and the remaining nine games should be a comfortable affair for the south east Londoners.

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The Eagles have little to lose in the leftover 2019/20 Premier League fixtures, they’re a long way clear of the relegation picture, but there’s still a chance of major gains if they adapt well to lockdown football.

Palace are flirting with the top half and a couple of wins could be all it takes to brazenly throw their name into contention for the most unlikely of European charges.

Hodgson will be determined to build on his side’s solid foundation in search of the elusive next level, but this feels like a low pressure restart for the Croydon boys.

We chatted to BBC and Sky Sports pundit – and former Palace star – Clinton Morrison and bring you our own views as the division prepares to go again.

Check out your complete guide to Crystal Palace’s 2019/20 season ahead of the Premier League restart.

Crystal Palace in 2019/20

Position: 11th

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Top scorer: Jordan Ayew (8 goals)

Most assists: James McArthur (3 assists)

Check out our full list of Crystal Palace fixtures 2019/20.

How? How have they done it again? Crystal Palace, without lavish spending or even a prolific striker, have dragged up a chair to the mid-table party and could see out the season in cruise control.

Only two of their players have racked up more than a single assist, only £1.5 million man Jordan Ayew has scored more than three goals in the season, yet here they stand!

Hodgson’s Gandalf-esque guidance is precisely what Palace need if they insist on staying up without exhausting their chequebook. They don’t always play the prettiest, most expansive football, but they certainly play efficient football, picking up wins and losses in games they’re expected to with little deviation.

Unlocking Wilfried Zaha has to be a priority for Hodgson. The Ivorian winger underwhelmed in the wake of reported discontent at the start of the season but while his goals and assists tallies are down on previous years, he remains a supreme talent capable of nudging Palace into the top half to cap off another solid campaign.

Clinton Morrison says…

Q: What do you make of Crystal Palace’s season so far?

CM: I think it’s been really good, if you said before the start of the season we’;d be comfortably in mid-table I think most Crystal Palace fans would have took that. With nine games to go we’re comfortably safe from relegation, and we’re looking in the other direction to maybe Europe! We’re three points off eighth place which is Tottenham. If Man City get banned there’s another spot in there, Palace have got a great chance. Most Palace fans will be looking up the table now.

Q: Which players have impressed you most?

CM: To be fair, the whole team has impressed me. I would have to say the best transfer signing I’ve seen all season is Gary Cahill. For the life of me I was surprised when he was available on a free transfer and none of the big teams came for him. He’s so experienced, kept himself in great shape, and I’ve watched him a lot this season and been magnificent. He’s helped my friend who I speak to a lot, Patrick Van Aanholt. We speak regularly, I’m like: “What is it like?” and he’s like: “It’s brilliant playing with Cahill. He’s always talking to you, getting you back into shape.”

Palace had a good centre-back pairing in Sakho and Tomkins, and then they both got injured and they brought Cahill in. He’s been excellent, Scott Dann’s come in and played really well alongside him and Martin Kelly as well. Palace have some really good defenders but Cahill for me is outstanding.

Obviously you’ve got Wilfried Zaha who started the season quietly but now we’re starting to see what he’s capable of. And also, another player who has been brilliant for Palace is Jordan Ayew. He’s stepped up to the mark this season with the amount of goals he’s scored in important games. He does it brilliantly with his back to goal and he’s kept Benteke out at the moment.
Vicente Guaita, the goalkeeper, has been excellent as well. What a signing. He had big shoes to come into because Julian Speroni is a Crystal Palace legend – the fans loved what he did at the football club – but Guaita’s come in and he’s been first class.

Q: Which players have disappointed? Who has a point to prove?

CM: I wouldn’t say anyone’s disappointed. Collectively, everyone’s been good. You’re probably looking at strikers and Christian Benteke would want to be scoring more goals. That’s any striker. If I was going through a spell like that I’d want to score goals as well. But I don’t think anyone’s been disappointing because if you look at the way Christian played against Brighton and set up the goal for Ayew, he was brilliant, he just needs one to drop for him in front of goal and it will kick-start him. So hopefully first game back against Bournemouth he can get that opportunity but I wouldn’t say anyone at Crystal Palace has been disappointing.

Q: What effect will lockdown have on the team?

CM: Every team is probably the same. No teams wanted it, they probably wanted their holidays and preparing for the Euros. But the lads are wanting to get back out training, I spoke to a few of the boys at Palace and they were desperate to get back training and playing football, it’s what you know since you were a kid. All you know is playing football, so when you’re not doing something that you totally enjoy, it can be disappointing.
I think most of the players are just happy to be back there. It doesn’t matter what your form was before COVID-19, you’ve just got to look at what you do now. I know it’s a bit strange and stuff, not just for Palace, for a lot of teams going for the title, people fighting relegation, trying to get into Europe. There’s a lot of big issues for a load of clubs at the moment so I think you go into that first game and give it your best.

Q: How do you rate Roy Hodgson this season?

CM: Roy has been magnificent. I get on a lot with Roy when I go back to Palace, he always makes time to have to chat to me. I think he’s brilliant, he’s so enthusiastic, he’s still on the training pitch coaching the players at his age. A lot of young managers look up to Roy Hodgson. When he first went in there, Palace were struggling and he’s made them really solid, hard to beat. Palace are a counter-attacking team now and when you’ve got players with loads of pace you can cause problems. Hodgson’s been superb, he’s not long signed a new contract and he thoroughly deserves that. Long may it continue.

Q: Where will Crystal Palace finish in the Premier League this season?

CM: Good question! I’m going to go for eight or ninth. I’m going to go for eighth, go on. I’ve looked at some of their games and they are tough, but I think if we can beat Bournemouth we can kick on. I think they’ll be happy with that!
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Looking for all the remaining Premier League matches and how to watch them? Check out our Premier League fixtures guide.