Crystal Palace secured their Premier League survival after they defeated Stoke City 2-1 at Selhurst Park and ensured a fourth successive season in England’s top-flight division.
The odds of the Eagles suffering relegation to the Championship were quite high throughout; however, I wasn’t taking anything for granted.
Alan Pardew’s men have gone completely under the radar during the relegation run-in, but the reality is that the Eagles have had to wait until their penultimate game of the domestic season to secure their Premier League status.
Dwight Gayle’s brace earned all three points against Mark Hughes’ men as they came from behind to do the double over the Potters. The 25-year-old has struggled with a starting place in the squad and frustratingly finds himself left on the bench, however when he is given a chance to show what he’s made of, Gayle often puts in a good performance and shows exactly why the club should not sell him.
The forward’s pace, determination and attitude is a merit to the way he plays and I really do hope he is given more stints in the starting eleven next season. When he plays, the team seem to play a whole lot better.
Next season will be the fourth straight campaign in the Premier League for the South London club and they really are beginning to show signs of a well-established top-flight side. Previous promotions to the Premier League have commonly seen the Eagles instantly relegated back down. The next season; however, things have changed and the club now have enough potential and facilities to maintain their position.
Two defeats in their last eight outings in all competitions has pushed the team on as they go in search of silverware at Wembley next weekend by attempting to achieve their first FA Cup triumph. Pardew’s men will be aiming to make the teamsheet for the final, however Wilfried Zaha’s fitness still remains a cause for concern. The English talent missed the weekend’s game as he looks to recover from a muscular strain just above the hamstring.
Zaha has been in great form recently and put in a man of the match performance in the last visit to Wembley when he played a big part in the 2-1 semi-final defeat of fellow Londoners Watford.
It will be a game he especially won’t want to miss, not only because of the historical context of the game for a club like Crystal Palace, but it also gives the young winger a real good chance to show former club Manchester United what they missed out on when they let him go.
Zaha was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing as Manchester United manager and he struggled to settle at the defending champions at the time, and when David Moyes was appointed as he predecessor, Zaha saw his first-team chances limited.
A loan to Cardiff City didn’t help improve his United career and shortly after his move, he was loaned back to Crystal Palace and the Eagles made his loan permanent.
The final game away at Southampton this weekend will be a chance for manager Pardew to experiment with his players and I expect him to shuffle the squad around.
All in all, it has been a good season, an unbelievable first-half and well… a disastrous second-half, but we can all forget about that now. Safety is secured ahead of another season in the Premier League and there is an FA Cup final to look forward to.
It’s not every day you get to say Palace are in the final, actually I never get to say it. Roll on May 21 and let’s hope the team can make history. Third time lucky as they say, for Pardew anyway!