September turns to October and in a way, it feels like we’re starting the season anew, after two weeks of international break following two weekends of royal mourning. There’s even a new head coach in place, with massive changes still going on behind the scenes at the club, while everyone’s gearing up for six weeks of wall-to-wall football before we break again, for six weeks of the 2022 World Cup.
Some in the squad have outright called this is a “fresh start”, even as others have related their shock and disbelief at Thomas Tuchel’s sacking. Whatever it is, we have to improve, first and foremost on the pitch, where results have been decidedly mixed — already reducing our league ambitions to a top-four fight and making just about every game remaining in our Champions League group stage campaign a must-win (including the two against Italian champions AC Milan).
The rush of games begins this Saturday, at the friendly confines of Selhurst Park. Or not so friendly, as it were.
Date / Time: Saturday, October 1, 2022, 15.00 BST; 10am EDT; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Selhurst Park, London
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (on pitch); Stuart Attwell (VAR)
Forecast: Sunny, but chance of rain
On TV: none (UK); USA Network, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); SuperSport Variety 2, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Crystal Palace team news: Palace finished twelfth last season — their ninth straight season finishing between 10th and 15th in the Premier League — but head coach Patrick Vieira was probably unlucky a bit with their division-leading (jointly with Brighton, incidentally) 15 draws. True to form, and considering that it’s largely the same exact team, Palace have already drawn three of their six games so far this season, including each of the last two.
Conor Gallagher’s return (from loan) to Chelsea left a massive gap in Palace’s midfield, which they’ve so far filled with new signing Cheick Doucouré and by giving Eberechi Eze a larger role. Former Bayer Munich prospect, center back Chris Richards was the only other notable summer arrival; he’s yet to start a game.
Palace have won just one league game this season (in six tries), but their schedule has seen them play mostly top half of the table teams so far, including Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal as well. They will be without long-term injury victims Jack Butland, James McArthur, and Nathan Ferguson, while James Tomkins faces a late fitness test.
Chelsea team news: We had hoped that Chelsea would return from the international break with a clean bill of health, but as it turns out, both N’Golo Kanté (hamstring) and Édouard Mendy (knee) need a bit more time. They might be ready for midweek. Same goes for Marc Cucurella and Carney Chukwuemeka, who have been dealing with “a bit of illness”.
Since our opening day win at Goodison, we’ve managed just two wins from six in all competitions and have have lost three in a row away from home, scoring just one goal. Scoring goals overall has been a problem for some time now: 9 in the 7 games so far this season will not cut it for any sort of ambitions we may have, regardless of how good our defense may be (which it isn’t at the moment).
Let’s hope this is indeed that proverbial fresh start.
Previously: We beat Palace three times last season, without conceding a single goal, twice in the league and once in the FA Cup semifinal for good measure. But to keep with the fresh start theme, here’s a bit of Potter & Co from Cobham.