Once considered an archetypal ‘yo-yo’ club, Crystal Palace are now embarking on their 7th consecutive season in the top-flight, after promotion from the Championship in 2013.

GOALKEEPER: Wayne Hennessey

Palace Premier League Appearances: 107

Current Club: Crystal Palace

Ok, hear me out. Yes, Wayne has had some truly dodgy moments. Yes, if Steve Mandanda’s move had worked out differently this would likely be a very different story. Yes, we have all wished that Julian Speroni had developed a Benjamin Button-esque anti-aging condition to keep him out the team at certain times. However, the reality is that Hennessey, in all, has done a solid job for Palace since his move in January 2014, with some match-saving performances dotted around (Chelsea away, anyone?), and with palace legend Julian Speroni’s best form coming some years before promotion and current goalkeeper Vicente Guaita still being fairly fresh into his very promising Palace career, it’s the big Welshman that gets the nod between the sticks.

RIGHT BACK: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 42/0

Current Club: Manchester United

First and foremost, this feels incredibly harsh on Joel Ward, a loyal servant to the club who has never given anything less than 100% every time he’s played for Palace. But come on, this boy is special. After pocketing the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Leroy Sane and Heung-Min Son in his first handful of appearances after coming through the academy, Wan-Bissaka exploded on to the scene in his first full season in professional football, tackling everything that moved and even wrestling the clubs ‘Player of the Season’ award away from perennial winner Wilfried Zaha. It is with a very heavy heart that most fans begrudgingly waved him off to Manchester United before this season, but the lad has a genuine chance to become Palace’s most gifted and decorated player to ever come out of the academy, and therefore slots straight in at right back. (Again, I’m sorry Joel).

CENTRE BACK: Mamadou Sakho

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 54/1

Current Club: Crystal Palace

The colourful haired Frenchman has been, when fit, a revelation at Palace since arriving from Liverpool in 2017. After impressing hugely on an initial loan spell, so much so that he was nominated for Player of the Season after only 8 games, Palace splashed out on a fee in the region of £28 million to make his Selhurst stay permanent, and have since seen him form an at times monstrous partnership with fellow medical room regular James Tomkins, with a memorable last-minute winner against Stoke being his sole goal contribution so far in red and blue. Injury problems are the only real downside to Mamadou’s career at Palace so far, and, at 29, fans will surely be hoping to see him martialling the back four and slide tackling referees for some time to come.

LEFT BACK: PATRICK VAN AANHOLT

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 78/11

Current Club: Crystal Palace

Palace’s current first choice, the jet-heeled Dutchman Patrick Van Aanholt, beats off challengers such as Pape Souare and ughhh… I guess just Pape Souare to claim the left back spot. Although question marks can be raised over PVA’s defensive prowess, there is no questioning his attacking intent and ability to score goals and, in the process, relegate unfortunate opponents. Enjoying his best spell after being brought in by Sam Allardyce, Pat struggled at times last season, (although his fantasy football team certainly didn’t) but will be hoping that his winner away at old Trafford kickstarts his Eagles career back into life.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: MILE JEDINAK (CAPTAIN)

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 90/6

Current Club: Aston Villa

Could anybody else captain this side? No chance. After arriving from Turkey under Dougie Freedman, playing an instrumental part in and captaining the 2012/13 promoted side, Mile Jedinak bought all the attributes that made him great into the Premier League with him and was a huge reason for Palace’s survival in the first two seasons. There are more technically talented players that could’ve taken this spot, but not many players have ever shown the leadership, spirit and guts that

the Aussie did in a Palace shirt, and for that reason he gets the nod. That freekick at home to Liverpool didn’t hurt his case either. Oh Alan, why did you sell him?

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD: LUKA MILIVOJEVIC

Palace Premier League Appearances Goals: 91/24

Current Club: Crystal Palace

He comes from Serbia, He’ll f****** murder ya (that’s if Mile Jedinak doesn’t get to ya first). Completing a tantalising partnership in holding midfield is current Palace captain and set-piece specialist Luka Milivojevic. Another of Sam Allardyce’s signings, Luka has been one of the first names on the team sheet since the day he arrived at the club, and is one of the most gifted players to grace the club for a long time. With Mile’s crunching tackles and Luka’s passing range and eye for goal, no club would be safe.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: JASON PUNCHEON

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 153/15

Current Club: Pafos FC

Another former captain, ‘Punch’ had had a nomadic career before finally settling down at Selhurst, even scoring a hattrick against the club for rivals Milwall some years before. Some players are just so ‘Palace’, if you know what I mean, and Puncheon was exactly that. Nimble footed and full of flair, his career at Palace can be best summarised by his goal against Norwich, a brilliant individual effort in a tense affair that ultimately saved Palace from relegation, and the passion he showed in the aftermath showed by both him and the fans aftwerwards highlights the connection that he had with the Palace fans. Go well in Aiya Napa Punch, a proper Palace legend. And no, I’m not mentioning that Cup final. You can’t make me.

RIGHT WING: WILFRIED ZAHA

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 166/32

Current Club: Crystal Palace

Arguably the clubs best-ever player and academy product, Wilfried Zaha is this XI’s leading appearance maker and top goalscorer, making an astounding 327 appearances across all competitions across two spells with the club, all by the age of 26. Wilf has won the club’s ‘Player of the Season’ award 3 times and ‘Young Player of the Season’ twice and is, last transfer window aside, a true figurehead of modern-day Palace. The Palace human-highlight reel has so many memorable moments it’d need its own article, but a personal Premier League favourite was his brilliant 97th minute winner in 2017. Here’s to another great year.

LEFT WING: YANNICK BOLASIE

Palace Premier League Appearances/Goals: 90/9

Current Club: Everton

Exactly the same as Punch. Yannick was just ‘Palace’. Signed for what now seems like pennies from Bristol City, Bolasie was a key part of the promoted squad and actually seemed to get better once in the Premier League. A lanky, tricky winger, often the only way Yannick wouldn’t beat his man is if he beat himself first, and would often leave you scratching your head and muttering ‘how’s he done that’ (See his take-on of Christian Eriksen, pure filth). Bolasie seemed primed to get better and better at Palace, but a big money move to Everton was too good to resist, where unfortunately due to injury and other reasons his career seems to have stagnated. He’s consistently linked back to Palace nowadays, and who knows, we may just see him and Wilf link up to terrorise opposing fullbacks once more.

STRIKER: CHRISTIAN BENTEKE

Palace Premier League Appearances: 85/19

Current Club: Crystal Palace

This was tough. With the club deciding Glenn Murray couldn’t hack Premier League football anymore (good call boys), the enigmatic Dwight Gayle never nailing a place in the team, and Michy Batshuayi only being at the club for 6 months, the lone striker spot goes to Christian Benteke. The big Belgian had an excellent debut season after arriving from Liverpool, scoring 17 in all competitions, but has since struggled to replicate that form, suffering from a lack of confidence, a use of tactics that isn’t always suited to his playstyle, and unfortunate injuries. All is not lost, however, and a lack of summer spending in his position means that Benteke is likely to have another season spearheading Palace’s attack, and with his contract running out at the end of the year, he could just have something to prove.

MANAGER: TONY PULIS

Palace Premier League Matches/Win Rate: 28/42.86

Current Club: Unemployed

Palace have had a lot of managers since they came up. 7 to be exact. A few of them have, realistically, worked miracles in fairly desperate situations. However, none more so than Tony Pulis. The Welshman has had an up and down career, recently being let go by Middlesborough, but he worked wonders at Palace, after joining midway through Palace’s first season back in the top-flight, finishing 11th and winning ‘Premier League Manager of the Year’. Unfortunately, a falling out with the board meant that 2013/14 was his only season at the club, and he left Palace with the best win rate of any manager to date, whilst actually, surprisingly, playing exciting football. Just think what he’d do with a striker like Benteke too.

Bench: Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, James Tomkins, James McCarthur, Yohan Cabaye, Andros Townsend, Glenn Murray

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