Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield Town
Crystal Palace open their 2017-18 Premier League campaign at home to Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town on Saturday. Palace, who finished 14th last season, will be hoping new manager Frank de Boer can help the club reach new heights, whilst the The Terriers will be aware of the challenge they face in the top flight.
The Championship play-off winners, Huddersfield will be entering England’s top tier as serious underdogs. Knowing this, manager David Wagner has made seven signings to bolster both the squad and his side’s chances. Amongst those joining the Terriers are former Montpellier striker Steve Mounié, Aaron Mooy from Manchester City, and ex-Blackpool man Tom Ince
Both Mounié and Ince could prove a problem to Palace’s defence. Mounie’s ability to get in behind and score goals, combined with the passing skills of both Ince and Mooy, could benefit a more counter-attacking style of play. Wagner will likely resort to this if Palace seem to be controlling the match, which is something de Boer always aims to do. Introducing a much more possession-based style of play, the Dutchman wants to limit the amount of time Huddersfield have on the ball.
Without almost any Premier League experience in the side, Huddersfield must adapt quickly on Saturday. A strong defence is also vital. Christian Benteke will provide Huddersfield’s centre-backs with a stern first test. Although new signing Mathias Jorgensen will likely be up to the task, Benteke could prove to be too much on his day for even the league’s best defenders. Palace’s attack will be aware and ready to exploit any mistake
Unlike their opponents, the Eagles haven’t been so busy in the summer transfer window. Having only made two signings so far, this match could determine whether de Boer needs to do more business.
Come Saturday, de Boer will be intent on seeing his side open their season in winning fashion, and he looks ready to do so with three in the back. Despite having utilised this in pre-season, it might take a couple games for the team to adapt; particularly the defenders. This being the case, they could be susceptible to a mistake or two at the back which could cost them dearly.
Strong and lively wing-backs, such as Patrick van Aanholt, Andros Townsend and Joel Ward, will be needed. Should Palace lose possession in the attacking third, they will rely on the wing-backs to be in the right position to get back to defend, as Huddersfield will be looking to catch them out on the counter. Palace’s midfield will need to keep its shape if they are to hold off any attacking pressure. If they do so, the newly-promoted side will struggle to get much of anything going on the ball.
Wilfried Zaha and Benteke will be the biggest threats to the opposition’s goal. With Zaha’s ability to beat defenders, cut into the box or whip in a cross, there will be chances. Benteke’s finishing and aerial abilities are worrisome to any side. The Terriers could struggle to keep him at bay inside the 18-yard-box.
Both sides will be buzzing to get the season started. New to the Premier League, Huddersfield may need time to adjust and could run into trouble at Selhurst. The Eagles should see the bulk of possession, and it will be up to them to make use of it if they are to pick up all three points.
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