Crystal Palace (H) | Pre-match Review
Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace 18/08/2019 English Premier League After 4480 days since their last Premier League fixture at Bramall Lane. The Blades have more reasons to be optimistic this time.
Last Time Out
Crystal Palace 1 (Ambrose, 69) - 0 Sheffield United 19/02/2011
Defeat at Selhurst Park was United’s 11th game of a 14 game run without a win while the Eagles secured 3 crucial points in their bid for Championship survival.
Sheffield United (23rd), would go on to be relegated alongside Scunthorpe United (24th) and Preston North End (22nd). All on 42 points.
Darren Ambrose’s incredible volley in the 69th minute was the difference for a Crystal Palace side which featured Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha, who was playing in his first full season at the club — having made his debut in March 2010.
Claude Davis and Paddy McCarthy were in the match day squad for Palace. They joined the likes of Johannes Ertl and Marcus Bent (who were on the bench for United) as players involved in the game who had played for both clubs.
Jean Calve and Elian Parrino were also on the bench that day for the Blades, though I’m not sure I could pick them out at a 'Jean Calve and Elian Parrino meet and greet'. Not that I can see a demand for such an event.
Summer at Crystal Palace
Notable Ins: Stephen Henderson (Free, Nottingham Forest), Gary Cahill (Free, Chelsea), Victor Camarasa (Loan, Real Betis), Jordan Ayew (£3m, Swansea City) and James McCarthy (£3m, Everton) Notable Outs:Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£45m Manchester United), Julian Speroni (Released), Jason Puncheon (Free, Pafos), Bakary Sako (Released), Papa Souare (Free, Troyes), Alexander Sorloth (Loan, Trabzonspor).
The main headlines from Crystal Palace’s summer transfer window was the sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United and that they were able to hold on to Wilfried Zaha. The theory seemed to be that one would go and not both, but at one point it did look like both could leave.
Palace fans may be underwhelmed at the lack of investment in the squad, especially after failing to bring in anyone on deadline day. Rennes winger Ismaila Sar signed for Watford and they couldn't come to an agreement with CSKA Moscow for their forward Fedor Chalov.
They were also unable to bring in a replacement for the outgoing Wan-Bissaka, with Martin Kelly and Joel Ward being the only available senior options who can play in that position.
James McCarthy brings plenty of Premier League experience from his time at Everton and Wigan Athletic. Victor Camarasa impressed for Cardiff City last season. Jordan Ayew’s loan move was also made permanent, despite a fairly underwhelming loan spell and former Blade (albeit for 3 months) Gary Cahill brings plenty of top-flight experience and should still have enough in the tank despite not playing many games in the past two years.
As the season goes on this section will disappear and be replaced with a paragraph on 'Form'. But as we’re only one game in we turn to Palace's up and down build up to the campaign. Discounting ‘Crystal Palace XI games’ there’s been some results that stick out, the 5-0 win over Bristol City being one highlight. The other, a lowlight, a 4-0 home defeat to Hertha Berlin.
Opening day result
An opening day draw with Everton was very much ‘The Last Game on Match of the Day’, despite it not actually being the last game on Match of the Day (that honour fell to Friday’s game between Liverpool and Norwich).
There were few chances for the home side, with Max Mayer looking the most likely to score for Palace. But still, the Eagles rarely threatened even when Everton's Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off for a second bookable offence. Despite being down to ten men, Everton could have walked away with all three points themselves, only goal saving clearances from Christian Benteke and Patrick Van Aanholt prevented that.
"I've got to pick the right team. But that doesn't mean that I don't start with Billy Sharp. Because if I pick the right team in my eyes and Billy's in, then that's the right team that I've picked. It's not a popularity contest. I don't pick a side on sentimentality."
“Billy's pushing on the door because he's been outstanding for us and me, not because he used to live half a mile away."
"The new boys came through Monday’s U23 game unscathed. They’re bedding in well."
"Chris Wilder deserves a lot of credit for his success at Sheffield United and their style of football."
Opposition Line Up
Crystal Palace played a 4-4-2 formation for the majority of last season, and I can see this happening on Sunday. Zaha appears he has put his differences with the club's hierarchy to one side, so it appears likely that he'll come in for Ayew. It would make sense for Palace to play with two central attackers to occupy United’s back three. However, expect Zaha to have the freedom to roam into space when they’re in possession.
At times last season, Palace played with a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, and Zaha’s versatility in attacking positions could allow for this. They could play a mixture of 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, with Zaha drifting out to the left and Meyer tucking inside into a central position. Gary Cahill could also make his debut, which would add some narrative I suppose. Whatever formation, Hodgson’s team's are set up to hit the opposition on the counter, which is what helped them be the 6th most successful team on their travels last season. So I'm afraid this may not be the easiest game for the Blades.
Despite Palace's strong away record, I have a hunch that the Blades will pick up their first win of the season, 2-0.
James McCarthur and George Baldock both to be carded 14/1 (SkyBet); A referee’s decision to be overturned using VAR 11/8 (SkyBet)
In the early days of this season, predicting our starting XI is still a minefield, personally I would opt for: