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Pre-season 21/22

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well.

With the EUROS being over it is now time to turn our attention to the club games, the Premier League doesn’t start until August 14th, but we still had pre-season to keep us occupied. Palace had a total of five games during pre-season, winning four and drawing one. Two of these games were held at home at Selhurst Park and I managed to get tickets to both.

Charlton Athletic vs Crystal Palace

The first game was on Tuesday 27th of July and was a 6pm kick off. We sat in the same seat we did for the u23 final, in the Holmesdale stand so had a pretty good view. Palace took their time to release the home kit, so for this game they wore the new third kit. This was created based on the design worn by the first team when the club was founded 160 years ago, with a sky blue and white half-and-half pattern; I personally love this kit and am looking forward to purchasing it. This was our first home game of pre-season so was the first chance to welcome our new signings to Selhurst, it was also Patrick Viera’s first home game in charge. This game only saw one player handed his debut, with new signing Marc Guéhi given his first start; we signed the centre back from Chelsea and in both games, he has looked great on the ball with lots of confidence, so I’m very excited to see him in the Premier League. Four academy players were also named in the starting line-up - Wells-Morrison, M. Boateng, Rak-Sakyi, and Banks; pre-season is the perfect time for the manger to introduce these players and see how they play without the added pressure.

The game began and Palace were playing some nice football in the opening stages keeping possession; as a palace fan I think this was what we were most hopeful for in the Viera era, and what we had been lacking under Hodgson. Charlton had a chance as the ball was allowed to enter the box, meeting the strikers head cleanly, but thankfully Tomkins was on the line and could header it over the bar clearing the danger. In the 15th minute Palace were able to take the early lead through Rak-Sakyi, the Charlton defenders were caught playing the ball around the back, and after some intense pressing the academy player blocked the ball from the keepers mistaken clearance, bouncing it back into the goal. The majority of the first half was pretty even with both teams having chances, but the defence did well to keep them under control. This lasted until just before half time, when Charlton were able to level the score, this came from a well-placed corner, there were definitely questions to be asked to the defence about how the ball was allowed through the sea of sky blue and white, but hopefully this is fixed before the prem starts. Ayew had a late chance, but nothing came from it. The half ended 1-1.

Palace were shooting towards the fans in the Holmesdale end for the second half. This half saw multiple substitutions at different stages of the game - Guaita 61 (Butland), Schlupp 61 (Wells-Morrison), Mitchell 61 (Tomkins), McArthur 61 (M. Boateng), Mateta 61 (Ayew), Street 70 (Rak-Sakyi), Jach 75 (Guéhi), Clyne 75 (Kelly), Gordon 82 (Banks), Kirby 82 (Riedewald).

The half started with both teams being comfortable with the result, while also creating some chances. Palace’s first chance of the half came after palace were awarded a free kick which was whipped in, initially cleared by the defender out to Tomkins who had a shot, this rebounded into the path of Kouyate who’s attempt was deflected onto the crossbar, and the ball finally bounced out to Rak-Sakyi who put the ball in the back of the net, the fans thought he’d made it 2-1, but the flag had gone up and he was offside. Palace looked very dominate in the midfield and were able to break through; on one occasion Schlupp ran through the mid and passed the ball out to Rak-Sakyi, but his shot was tame and Mateta couldn’t find the net. A mistake by the keeper during a clearance left Street to pick up the ball and lob it over the defenders into the path of Mateta, Scott Banks made a run down the outside and a brilliantly weighted ball was played into him, which was finished off by a brilliant shot into the back of the net. It was now 2-1 to Palace. This was a well-deserved result based on the game so far. A mistake in the midfield as Jach allowed the Charlton man to get past him, leaving him free to run half the pitch unmarked cost us a goal, as he played the ball into the box, another mistake from Kouyate allowed the Charlton sticker to half volley the ball into the back of the net, levelling the score once again. The introduction of more academy players, such as Gordon upped the tempo slightly, but Palace weren’t able to make another come back, and the game ended 2-2.

As a fan it’s even more special when the academy boys do well, especially for two of them to score this game, so hopefully Vieira is keeping a close eye on them ahead of the new season.

Crystal Palace vs Watford

This was the first game post covid I’ve been to with away fans although there weren’t many, it was nice to see football slowly returning to normality. There were also more Palace fans at this game compared to the last, so the noise was twice as loud. In the time between the previous home game, we made two signings, centre back Joachim Andersen coming in on a five-year deal, and midfielder Conor Gallagher on a season long loan deal. We also lost a few player who decided to move on from the club - Mamadou Sakho, Patrick Van Aanholt, Andros Townsend and Gary Cahill, so good luck for the future to them.

This game was on Saturday 7th of August and kick off was at 3pm. The manager named a strong starting line-up, I assume it is similar to how we will start next week at Chelsea. Zaha was handed the armband which was nice to see early in the Vieira era. Midweek before the match the home kit was finally released, some people aren’t a fan, but I personally really like it and think it’s a nice change from the standard vertical stripes.

The game began and Palace started well. This game was an early insight to our future Premier league opponents, and we could see the level we would be coming up against. The first chance came to Palace via a corner, played short by Riedewald to Zaha, who whipped the ball into the box, cleared by the Watford defender into the path of McArthur who could finally play the ball over to Zaha where he was waiting at the back post, to the Watford’s fans delight he completely missed the ball, and it went out for a goal kick. There were a lot of free kicks awarded throughout the game to both teams (some incorrectly may I add). In the 29th minute Riedewald whipped the dead ball into the box where it was met by the head of a Watford defender, the ball was cleared into the path of Mitchell who could quickly pass the ball over the top to Zaha, the defender clumsily took Wilf out and the referee blew the whistle before pointing to the spot. Penalty to Palace. Zaha took it, sadly it was at the end where there were no palace fans, but we could still see from our seat. Without hesitation the captain ran up to the ball and buried it in the back of the net for his 3rd goal of preseason, the keeper got a hand to it, but it wasn’t strong enough to keep the ball out. 1-0 to Palace! Watford were incorrectly awarded a foul outside the box, the player had a strong attempt on target, but Guaita was able to push the ball around the near post with a brilliant save, sending it out for a corner. Once again, the keeper was there to save us when needed, hopefully this continues throughout the next season. The corner was whipped in after being taken quickly short, the palace players didn’t seem to be ready and the Watford player couldn’t easily head the ball on target, thankfully it only hit the post, but our vulnerabilities were shown once again. There were no other key events in the first half, and it ended 1-0.

During half time I was able to meet my friend Anna for the first time, we met online through Palace but because of covid we hadn’t been able to see each other at a game yet. I know you’re reading this Anna, so it was lovely to finally meet you and hopefully see you at another game soon! I was also supposed to meet my other friend Tom, but he was on the other side of the stand so will have to meet another time.

The second half began with the same intensity Palace showed in the closing stages of the first half. With some beautiful football played in the middle of the pitch, Schlupp was played down the wing by Riedewald, before he whipped the ball into the box into the path of Mateta but it was millimetres too far in front. We did very well in the second half to not allow Watford any time of the ball, closing down loose balls and starting counter attacks which was a real lack last season. In the 54th minute McArthur won the ball back in the mid before playing the ball out to Zaha, he easily dribbled past two Watford defenders making them look invisible before netting the ball for his brace in front of the fans, the stand erupted which was a sound I’ve definitely missed! At the 70th minute Mark Reece Hannam, Conor Gallagher and Christian Benteke (who had just returned from international duty) entered the pitch. Mitchell was one of the players replaced after going down with a knock, but I really hope it’s nothing serious. This was the first time Gallagher played in front of the palace fans, he started really well showing his eagerness to win the ball. He was immediately called to action to play the ball into the path of Schlupp who passed it onto Benteke, his ball into Zaha was cut out by the Watford defender, an approaching Hannam tried his luck at getting on the scoresheet into the far corner, but his attempt was put wide by the defender. Watford’s Hernandez created a low chance, but it was easy for Guaita to deal with. Once again Palace looked very exposed at a Watford corner, as the ball was whipped in quickly, Benteke could header it out, but it fell into the path of Deeney who was able to place the ball into the far side of the net. It was now 2-1 to Palace, the nerves started to kick in as we didn’t want a repeat of our last home game. Before the season starts Vieira needs to fix the exposure we have at corners, or it could be a real issue for us. In the closing stages of the game, we were awarded a corner, there was a bit of commotion in the crowds as a fan wouldn’t give the ball back, but once that was sorted our nerves were settled as Benteke made it 3-1, this time the goal came from a beautifully weighted corner by Riedewald onto the head of Benteke who rose above everyone else and headed the ball cleanly into the net from the back post. The final piece of action was Tomkins being bought on in replace of Kouyate, he seemed to be slightly injured and went straight down the tunnel, hopefully it is nothing serious and he will be fit for Saturday.

The game ended 3-1 and what a great result it was for us, hopefully this has provided us with some confidence to take into the new season of the Premier league. PS they never did find the ball the fan took he had loads of stewards looking!

The season ahead is a very exciting time to be a Palace fan with the new manager introducing new tactics, new signings (hopefully a few more to come), and some academy boys being around the first team ready to break through, I’m predicting a good season for us!

Finally, I would like to thank my stepdad Steve for taking me to both games, sorry the food was cold lol. We are going to the opening game against Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge so look out for a post on that.

If you’re not a Palace fan good luck to your team this season!

Thank you for reading

Ellie X


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