View from an Eagle

Tomorrow Town face Crystal Palace in a crucial relegation six-pointer at the John Smith's Stadium. David Wagner and his team have fond memories of the visitors having thrashed them 3-0 at Selhurst Park on the opening day.


However, the Eagles have had several injury boosts ahead of this game and arrive in good spirits with many pundits tipping them to win the West Yorkshire showdown. In preparation of the game, I spoke to the lads over at Holmesdale Radio, which is a weekly Palace podcast.


They're a knowledgeable bunch and were kind enough to invite me on to their show to preview the opening day fixture. So who better to give us the lowdown on Roy Hodgson's team? Their thoughts are below, enjoy!


Since we last spoke Palace have dispensed of 'the worst manager in Premier League history' according to Jose Mourinho. Do you think that Frank De Boer was sacked too soon or was it right to get rid of him when you did?


Jose Mourinho actually overcooked the poor record, saying that de Boer had lost 7 out of 7 games. He was, in fact, sacked after just four Premier League matches in charge, but many Palace fans are happy to pin Roy Hodgson’s first three defeats on the Dutchman. 


Was he sacked too soon? Probably. Was it the right decision? Undoubtedly. Look at Southampton for example, they have persisted with their duff appointment until just this week and it could cost them their place with the big boys.


It was clear from the very start that de Boer was never going to work so best be done with him as soon as possible – that doesn’t mean that I enjoyed the circus that came with the prompt dismissal though


Former England manager Roy Hodgson replaced Frank De Boer and seemed to have a significant impact in his first few months, how do you rate his performance as gaffer so far?


Roy Hodsgon has been exactly what Palace needed. After such unscrupulous gaffers in Warnock, Pardew and Allardyce, a gentleman is what we were crying out for. The former England manager is a class act and I am happy to call him my manager.


I have no doubt that he would have been in the running for Manager of the Season, well at least second to Pep, if injuries had not hampered us so badly in recent months.


You're currently on a seven-match winless run - having played some good teams - has that dampened spirits at Selhurst Park, or are you confident of picking up points with more 'winnable' games coming up?


The winless run can be placed almost exclusively at the door of injuries. I’ve never know an injury crisis like it. Over half of our 24-man squad [yup, we never quite got to 25] was injured at one stage and Mamadou Sakho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann, Joel Ward and Wilfried Zaha are all players that most teams in the division would miss.


In the main, spirits remain relatively high. Despite the injuries, we’ve only lost the last three to last minute goals in two (Spurs, Man U) and because of a wrongly disallowed goal in the other (Chelsea). However, said spirits will take a huge knock should we lose this weekend


Style-wise, Hodgson broke away from his defensive mantra as England manager and tried to play more expansive football. Has he continued this at Palace or are you playing more functional football?


I would say that Roy has fallen somewhere in between Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew. He is not all out defending and hit on the counter, nor is he gung-ho in attack.


We have a lot of pace in the back line and this enables us to play a higher line than we have been able to in the past and this means that we attempt to pass out more through the midfield for the opening two thirds of the game. Then, depending on how the game is going, we’ll go more direct to the flanks and look to attack tiring legs with Zaha’s pace.


Star man Wilfried Zaha is expected to start on Saturday after an impressive cameo at Chelsea, apart from the Ivorian who else should Town's defenders beware of?


With two in two, Patrick van Aanholt is becoming a goal threat from left-back and James McArthur has a knack of popping up with a goal or two. Other than that, there is not that much to worry about this season outside of Zaha. Benteke is having by far the worst season of his career in front of goal and, although he has started reasonably well at Palace, Sorloth is never going to be a prolific goalscorer.


Huddersfield's physical approach in the reverse fixture clearly riled Palace fans with one making a YouTube video of all the 'fouls' on Wilfried Zaha. Are you worried that some of your players will be in for a rough afternoon at the John Smith's?


The treatment dished out by Huddersfield was rough on the opening game of the season and I have no problem with that. It is the referee’s responsibility to keep it within the realms of fairness, and Jonathan Moss, quite frankly, left Zaha to the slaughter, ending in the forward missing months of action.


Do I expect similar treatment this weekend? Yes. Do I expect Mike Dean to protect Zaha? No. Zaha has a completely unfounded reputation for “going over easy” and referee’s hate him because he has the audacity to moan about being kicked every single time he touches the ball. 


The problem for your lot is that Wilf doesn’t forget and he will be looking for revenge this weekend.


Twitter isn't exactly the best barometer of public opinion, but there appears to have been a bit of needle between our fans on the network so far this week, do you think that, combined with our last league encounter adds more significance to the game?


I don’t think any more significance can be added to the game. It is hugely important for both Clubs.


As for Huddersfield fans saying “I hope we break Zaha’s legs” – you just join a very long and ever growing list of fans of teams that have already said it.


In terms of added spice, you might hear a few more “dirty northern bastards” chants than normal.


It's getting to 'squeaky bum-time' in the league, are you confident that Palace have what it takes to avoid the drop? 


I am 99% sure that we will stay up. We only have Liverpool and Leicester (both at home) to play from the top half of the table and Roy has been good at picking up results against the teams around us.


Throw in the fact that Sakho, Loftus-Cheek, Cabaye and Zaha are now all back from injury, we instantly become a far superior outfit to the one that has taken to the field in the last seven games.


If you had to guess now, who would you have as your three teams to go down?


West Brom, Stoke and Southampton


Finally, can you give us a score prediction for the game on Saturday?


Huddersfield 0-3 Palace: I am going for a full circle on the season. We have been unlucky in recent weeks and with players coming back from injury I think that we are primed to give a team a hiding. I am hoping it will start this weekend

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