Premier League Betting: How Palace can stay in the top flight against all the odds

29May 2013

England - Premier League

 

After Crystal Palace's dramatic extra time victory over Watford in yesterday's Playoff Final, Betfair's resident Palace fan Callum Davis looks ahead to next season and  assesses the South Londoners chances of retaining their Premier League status...

 

Despite the dismal weather which greeted Palace fans this Tuesday morning, yesterday's triumphant day in the sunshine of Wembley will still be fresh in the memory.  Palace supporters will be forgiven for thinking the glory of that win was just some sun-kissed dream, but to my own continued astonishment, the dream is indeed a  reality: Crystal Palace are back in the Premier League.

 

Three years ago the south London side were mired in administration and on the brink of financial capitulation. Fast forward to today and Crystal Palace are back in the  top flight for the first time in eight years with a potential windfall of £120 million awaiting them in the Promised Land of the Premier League.

 

However, as the giddy celebrations slowly give way to a rather humbling hangover, thoughts will be turning to the question of whether Palace can continue to do the  unthinkable and avoid relegation next season. The Eagles have already been installed as favourites for the drop at 1.58, with fellow promoted sides Hull and  Cardiff the next most fancied sides to be relegated at 1.7 and 2.44 respectively.

 

As the odds suggest, the task of survival facing Palace is undoubtedly a daunting one. Yesterday's man of the match, Wilfried Zaha, will complete his move to  Manchester United in the summer and he will leave a massive hole in the side. The pace, power and creativity of Zaha this season has been the driving force behind  Palace's unexpected position near the top of the table and his eye catching performances in the semis and final of the playoffs have been the difference for Palace in  achieving promotion.

 

With the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who bought Zaha earlier this year, there has already been hopeful talk of Palace being able to secure Zaha's services  on loan for one more season to assist their survival challenge. However at this stage the speculation seems nothing more than that and if, as expected, the England  international does make his move north, the first task for Ian Holloway will be to replace the young starlet as quickly as possible. Rumours of an approach for  Manchester City winger, Scott Sinclair, have been mooted by a number of sources and an acquisition of Sinclair's calibre would be a real mark of Palace's intent to  become a permanent fixture in the Premier League.

 

Crystal Palace's successes this season have been built on a counter attacking style of football which predominantly used Zaha as the focal point for attacks. Just how  integral Zaha was to the team was exemplified by the fact that Zaha's dip in form after the news of his big transfer broke directly coincided with Palace's abysmal  mid-season form which nearly saw them drop out of the top six altogether. Palace fans will be hopeful that fellow winger Yannick Bolasie can take up the mantle vacated  by Zaha and become the chief creative threat.

 

Regardless of how Palace approach the Zaha question, they will have to move swiftly this summer to bolster their threadbare attacking options, most pertinently up  front. Palace will be without the recently injured Glenn Murray for the start of next season, and you'd have to say that although Premier League veteran Kevin Phillips  has done a wonderful job this season when called upon, another season in the top flight may be too much to ask from him.

 

There were strong rumours in January that Palace were trying to secure the loan signing of former striker Andy Johnson, who starred last time Palace were in the  Premier League in 2005. Palace are expected to make another approach for the out of favour QPR striker this summer and most fans would welcome back the former hero  with open arms.

 

At the back, Crystal Palace have shown a real mettle which has seen them keep a clean sheet across 300 minutes of playoff football. Joel Ward and Damien Delaney in  particular have fitted seamlessly into a back four which was rocked at the start of the season by injury to club captain Paddy McCarthy. If Palace do stand any chance  of defying the odds and avoiding relegation then their campaign will need to be built upon a resilient back four and the same formidable home record which saw them  lose only two games at Selhurst Park all season.

 

If Holloway manages to retain the key players in midfield including Mile Jedinak, Yannick Bolasie and academy graduate Jonathan Williams, then Palace have the makings  of decent enough side to compete in what was a distinctly average Premier League this season. Eagles fans and players alike have been used to having their chances  written off of late and they are no strangers to the underdog tag. In a strange way, I suspect Ian Holloway will relish the label and will be confident he and his team  have the credentials to prove his detractors wrong and lead Palace to unexpected safety next season.

 

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Keywords: Premier League, betting, Palace, odds,

Source: Betfair

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