After a string of costly mistakes last season from Welshman Wayne Hennessey and the departure of French flop Steve Mandanda, there is a level of uncertainty regarding who will start in goal for Palace for the upcoming season.
Palace Target Goalkeeping Changes
When Steve Mandanda joined the club from Ligue 1 side Marseille, there was a real sense of expectation from the fans with such a high-profile goalkeeper opting to move to South London. However, his performances failed to live up to his reputation, most notably in the 3-2 defeat away at Burnley in November 2016. Coincidentally this was also his last game for the club. It was clear he always favoured a move back to France. This opened the door for Welshman Wayne Hennessey to reclaim his number one spot.
Although the shot stopper produced several quality performances last season, especially in the 2-1 victory at Chelsea; making an impressive amount of saves to keep the league leaders out the game. He even travelled back with the away fans on the tube. Hennessey has come under much criticism throughout his time in SE25. Standing at 6’6″, the tall goalkeeper should be well accommodated to the Premier League. With most clubs favouring a tall keeper, you only have to look at how much Claudio Bravo struggled during his first season at the Etihad.
Coming out to collect crosses and the avoidance of being chipped should be straight forward for a player of his height. Yet last season, this was one of the main downfalls. It almost seemed that he feared coming out of his six-yard box. Examples of this can be seen in the home defeat to Chelsea. With Hennessey stuttering to collect a cross, it gave Diego Costa an easy header to score.
Another area of improvement the keeper needs to work on are free kicks. Wayne severely struggles with the positioning for free kicks, almost taking a step to the side the wall is covering before diving towards the ball, resulting in the ball being too far away to reach having made that step, much to the anger of Palace fans and ex goalkeeper John Burridge-, “Just seen the goals on Saturday. If big Sam don’t replace Wayne he will go down. He’s got no authority don’t bully his defenders. Nice guy”
Under Big Sam, performances seemed to pick up. He kept Palace in many games and played a big role in the side achieving safety. It is unclear whether the new manager will remain with the Welshman as his number one this season. Regardless of who he chooses, Hennessey has much to improve.
Having been with the club for an incredible 13 years, making 359 appearances since his 2004 move from Dundee, Julian Speroni is a Crystal Palace legend. He has won the player of the year award on four separate occasions. The Argentine has kept his side in the game countless times, most notably in the playoff semi-final against Brighton. Speroni kept out a shot from Ashley Barnes. He also made a fantastic reaction save to stop Hazard against Chelsea in April 2014.
Injury prevented the keeper from keeping his place in the side at the beginning of the 2015/2016 season, dropping to third choice behind the young Alex McCarthy and Hennessey. Over the next two seasons, Speroni would find it increasingly hard to gain first team opportunities. This remarkable given how prone to errors the two above him were. The club legend proved he still had it. He produced a string of excellent saves in the FA Cup at Bolton last season.
Having been with the club for such a long time, the goalkeeper appreciates what it means to the fans to see 100% put in every game. He would be more than welcomed back into the starting line-up. Speroni earned huge amounts of respect and trust from the backline over the years.
However, with vast experience comes age. With Speroni nearing 39 years of age, there are fears that the once quick, agile goal keeper has been replaced by a much older one. He is not as quick to get across his goal line and back up again. Also, less smaller goalkeepers are holding down a first team spot at clubs. Taller stoppers are being favoured to combat tall, powerful centre forwards. With De Boer openly looking for a new keeper at the club, most Palace fans would argue club man Speroni could easily regain his place in the side. He has worked to proving this with his performance in the Asia Cup. The man bleeds red and blue and it would be delightful to see him placed back in the starting 11.
With newly appointed Frank De Boer openly searching for a new shot stopper at SE25; over the past few weeks of the summer transfer window, there have been plenty of names linked to the number one role. Jasper Cillessen, the 28-year-old Dutch keeper currently at Barcelona, was linked with a move to South London to work again with De Boer. However, it seems the Dutchman would rather fight for his place than move to South London.
Having slipped behind Darren Randolph in the rankings at West Ham, Spanish goalkeeper Adrian has been linked with a move to Palace. However, it is unclear whether he would be an upgrade on what the club currently have. The keeper lost his place due to several errors.
After a fantastic season with Burnley resulting in a call up to the National side, it is reported that Palace would target Englishman Tom Heaton. However it is unlikely the Clarets would be reluctant to let their shot stopper go. None the less, Heaton would a major upgrade on what Palace already have.
Frank De Boer has until August the 12th to decide who will start in goal before their first game of the season, versus Huddersfield.