Life without star man Wilfried Zaha got off on the right foot for Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson and his Eagles on matchday one after a dominant 1-0 win over promoted outfit Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Despite the narrow margin on the scoresheet, Palace were comfortable throughout in a performance that saw them boast nearly 70% possession and register over 20 shots across ninety minutes of action, with key striker Odsonne Édouard opening his account for the season.
After Hodgson’s return to Palace in the wake of Patrick Vieira’s dismissal last season was questioned, the veteran English headmaster guided the club expertly away from rocky shoals which eventually saw them finish 11th in the table, and most importantly, seem to be getting on just fine without the aforementioned Zaha, who is now plying his trade with Turkish giants Galatasaray.
There has been little business conducted at Selhurst Park this summer, however, with just 19-year-old Brazilian starlet Matheus França and Jefferson Lerma brought in as replacements for Zaha and Luka Milivojević respectively. But a clearly defined senior squad and preferred XI is no bad thing, and if matchday one is anything to go by, Palace remain capable as they head into Monday’s clash with Premier League title chasers Arsenal in an early capital derby that has seen the Eagles win just one of the last six (1-2-3) against the Gunners.
A tricky test, but one which they are capable of offering stiff resistance in nonetheless.
Roy Hodgson is likely to deploy the same XI that was fielded in the win over Sheffield United given fitness concerns surrounding three members of the senior squad.
Michael Olise, Matheus França, and Will Hughes are all unfit for service on Monday night, but at the very least, Palace will move into the season pleased to know that star winger Michael Olise turned down a chance to join Chelsea, and instead, sign fresh terms on an extension with the south London outfit.