Premier League Season Preview | Crystal Palace Betting Breakdown

Premier League Season Preview | Crystal Palace Betting Breakdown article feature image

Sebastian Frej/Getty. Pictured: Joachim Andersen.

Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Here is our take on one of London's biggest clubs, Crystal Palace.

Premier League Season Preview – Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace had one of the most unbalanced schedules I’ve ever seen in the Premier League last year and the result was a rollercoaster season that really wasn’t all that surprising in the aggregate. The Eagles had a poor start to the season with just one win in their first seven league contests, and then they followed it up with a 12-match winless run immediately after the World Cup break.

That winless run that featured no attacking output got manager Patrick Vieira fired, but the schedule of fixtures couldn’t have been more brutal. The schedule-makers gave Palace all of the most difficult fixtures at the front end of the double round robin, and Roy Hodgson came in to “save” Palace by beating the worse teams in the league.

Team Breakdown

On aggregate, Palace finished with an excellent defense and one of the worst attacking units in the league. They ended with an 11th-placed finish and a -0.23 xG difference per 90 minutes, which was 12th-best in the league. 

Hodgson’s Palace often played a rather dull brand of defensive football that relied almost entirely on Wilfried Zaha to be the entire attack on the counter and in transition. Palace finished in the bottom four of xG produced and xG difference per 90 in 2019-20 and 2020-21 under Hodgson until he left. 

Vieira legitimately improved Palace in his time there, but the goals dried up last year and Palace’s top decision makers went back to what they know best — Hodgson. The loss of Zaha in the transfer market and potential loss of Michael Olise could make Palace the worst attack in the Premier League. 

Zaha had the second-most passes into the penalty area, the second-most crosses and the most carries into the box. His ball progression numbers remained excellent and he added 2.5 shots per 90. Olise was the team’s best ball progressor and passer and losing both of them without a clear attacking replacement puts the entire attack on the shoulders of Eberechi Eze. 

Eze finished well above his xG last year and just had a career year with 0.39 xG + xA per 90. If there’s any regression there, Palace is in real trouble trying to score goals. As is, not replacing Zaha’s production puts them amongst the league’s worst attacks. 

The defense finished in the top four in xG allowed once again. The partnership of Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi seems like an excellent one, but it feels like the ceiling of what Palace are capable of as a defensive outfit. Any underlying regression back toward league average could leave Palace in serious relegation trouble. 

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Betting Preview

Hodgson was able to keep Palace out of the relegation picture in each of his seasons with the club, but it hasn’t really been supported by any underlying data. The extent to which Palace has relied on Zaha’s production to squeak by with just enough attack for some of the last 5-6 seasons is under-appreciated and undervalued by the market. His departure makes them a real relegation risk, even if they weren't that close to a relegation team by most underlying metrics last year. You can envision a world in which the defenses regresses closer to league average and the attack drops to be one of the two worst in the entire league. 

Running it back with Hodgson one too many times feels quite dangerous for Palace and comes with relatively little upside. There are other teams below them in the odds board like Everton, Burnley and Fulham that I’m not totally convinced Palace aren't right there with in terms of true talent.

Pick: Crystal Palace to be relegated (+700 via bet365)

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