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Crystal Palace vs Lyon – 2023/24 Pre-Season Friendly

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all well.

On Saturday 5th August 2023, Crystal Palace hosted French side Lyon at Selhurst Park in their final pre-season friendly ahead of the 2023/24 Premier League season starting next week!

In typical British weather spirits it was pouring with rain the whole day … yes we are in August! As I didn’t fancy getting soaked while watching the game we asked to be moved to the Holmesdale disabled seats which are undercover, the staff were amazing as always and got us moved so we could actually enjoy the game!

Palace came into this game having recently returned from their USA summer tour, during this time they faced Millonarios and Sevilla which unfortunately ended in a loss and draw. Prior to leaving for America they faced Crawley Town and Watford, which ended in a 4-0 and 2-1 victories respectively.

A piece of major news during the summer was the departure of Wilfried Zaha leaving after making 458 senior appearances for the club and joining the Palace academy at the age of eight, he joined Galatasaray after his contract expired with the South London side. I personally wasn’t surprised he left as he has wanted to depart for a while, but I was surprised about where he chose to go with the Turkish league not being the most competitive. I wish him well and hope the move works out better than his Manchester United transfer!

The visitors were French side Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) who finished 7th in Ligue 1 last season. They have been crowned Ligue 1 champions seven times, although the most recent was in 2008. During pre-season they faced the likes of Manchester United, RWDM and Celta Vigo, all of which ended in 1-0 losses giving Palace a reason to be confident. Although they did put 8 past Sion in their most recent 8-2 pre-season victory!

As the new season edged closer Roy Hodgson didn’t make any changes to his starting 11 that played the last game in the USA against Sevilla. This consisted of: Sam Johnstone, Marc Guehi, Nathaniel Clyne, Joachim Andersen, Joel Ward as captain, Jordan Ayew, last season’s Player Of The Season Cheick Doucoure, returning from injury Jeffrey Schlupp, new signing Jefferson Lerma, Eberechi Eze, and Odsonne Edouard; I can only assume this will be next weeks starting team. On the bench was multiple academy players including regular Joe Whitworth, John-Kymani Gordon, and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi who hopefully will get his chance to play more this season!

In half time Palace bought out their new signing Matheus França, who has signed a five-year deal from Flamengo, the deal was announced just hours before kick off and the young winger got a warm reception from the Palace fans!

Crystal Palace end their pre-season on a high with a 2-0 win over French side Lyon.

With both teams being just a week out from starting their seasons, the pace and intensity from the start was high with end to end action. Lyon did seem to take control of the game early looking comfortable in possession, especially with down the wings causing some issues for the Eagles with some skilful footwork.

Despite their slower start the home side were the ones to create the first significant chance of the game and was able to capitalise on the opportunity.

Lyon gave away countless fouls and subsequently fell victim to the first goal. Crystal Palace’s number 10, Ebere Eze, whipped in a free kick to the box, Jeffery Schlupp timed his diving header perfectly and managed to direct the ball into the top corner leaving Anthony Lopes flatfooted in his goal.

The visitors tried to instantly react through Rayan Cherki after a direct run towards goal, but his shot was weak and ended up being a simple save for Sam Johnstone.

Following the early goal Palace looked much more confident in possession and took the game away from Lyon, who had far less opportunities than the opening 15 minutes.

Schlupp had a chance to double the lead and his score tally, Nathanial Clyne, who found himself in lots of space down the wing, cut the ball back to the number 15 who was alone on the edge of the box, his powerful first time shot forced a save from Lopes. Odsonne Edouard’s rebound shot was weak and allowed the keeper to easily gather.

The second half started much like the first, with the visitors starting the brighter of the two. The danger again came from Cherki who from 25 yards out sent a dipping effort towards Johnstone’s goal, it looked as though they had found a breakthrough but the palace keeper had other ideas, stretching across his goal he made a fantastic save to deny the Frenchman.

Once again against the run of play it was Palace who netted the second goal, similarly from their first goal the danger came from another Eze set piece. Joachim Andersen was the one who got on the end of his delivery heading the ball down too strongly for Lopes to keep hold of, the rebound was quickly pounced on by Edouard whose sliding effort saw the ball cross the line and double the lead.

Much like the first half the momentum switched after the goal with Palace again asserting their dominance.

The home side almost had a near immediate replica of their previous goal, again coming from an Eze corner this time being flicked on by Jordan Ayew, but his effort went just wide of the far post with the substitute keeper able to do enough and no one in red and blue was able to poke it in the net.

Lyon’s Starman Cherki had another opportunity after receiving a one-two from his teammate on the edge of the box, but his shot went way wide no troubling the palace man between the sticks.

In the closing stages Lyon threw everything they could at the Eagles, they almost did find a breakthrough from a corner. Skelly Alvero’s header was blocked by a strong astonishing fast reacted save from Johnstone to keep hold of his clean sheet.

The final chance fell Palace’s way with substitutes Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Jean-Philippe Mateta linking up, the latter was played through clear on goal, but was denied by fresh keeper Remy Riou. Nevertheless a great end to pre-season ending in 2-0 for the Eagles ahead of the 2023/24 Premier League season next week!

In the opening stages of the match I was very anxious as Lyon was in complete control, but when the first goal went in the nerves disappeared and Palace played some great football. Unfortunately if I’m being completely honest I wasn’t impressed by new signing Jefferson Lerma’s performance, but hopefully with time he adapts to the new system. On the other hand, I was very impressed with Ebere Eze, he looked so comfortable on the ball and his set piece deliveries were fantastic, I can definitely see him being the main playmaker this season! Overall a positive performance ahead of the new season and hopefully with the new signings along with players returning from injury they can do well this season!

Palace’s season opener is away to Sheffield united on Saturday 12th of August, followed by Arsenal at home the next week which will be my first game so look out for that post.

Thank you for reading!

Ellie Xx


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