After his arrival saw a remarkable turnaround last season, Tony Pulis is out to ensure that there'll be no second season syndrome at Crystal Palace.
Last season: 11th
Title odds: 4,000/1
Players in: Frazier Campbell (Cardiff, £900k), Brede Hangeland (Fulham, free), Chris Kettings (Blackpool, free)
Players out: Neil Alexander (Hearts, free), Jose Campana (Sampdoria, undisclosed), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Cardiff, free), Danny Gabbidson (released), Jack Hunt (Nottingham Forest, loan), Dean Moxey (Bolton, free), Jonathan Parr (Ipswich, free), Aaron Wilbraham (Bristol City, free)
Bottom of the table in November, Palace looked doomed after picking up just four points from their first 11 games until Tony Pulis’s arrival.
Replacing Iain Holloway, the former Stoke boss promptly galvanised the Eagles as they lost only 10 out of 26 matches, with five consecutive wins from late March to mid-April helping secure a remarkable 11th-place finish.
That was the first time the club have managed to survive for a second consecutive Premier League campaign, having been sent straight back following their previous three seasons in 1994-95, 1997-98 and 2004-05.
Reasons to be positive
Much like his Stoke team, Pulis’s side proved a remarkably solid defensive unit following his appointment, conceding only 27 goals in as many matches, while also keeping an impressive 11 clean sheets.
Their back-line doesn’t boast any star names, but long-serving goalkeeper Julian Speroni was extremely solid last season, while the likes of Joel Ward, Adrian Mariappa, Damien Delaney and January signing Scott Dann all had a huge say in the club’s up-turn in fortunes.
Add into the mix Brede Hangeland, as well as sturdy club captain Mile Jedinak in the defensive midfield role, and it looks likely that Palace will prove just as solid at the back as in the second-half of 2013-14.
Complimented by the attacking talent of Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon, new striker Frazier Campbell and the surprisingly revitalised Marouane Chamakh, there are plenty of reasons to believe the Eagles could push for a top-half finish if all goes to plan.
Trouble on the horizon?
The very short list of arrivals at Palace this summer is somewhat worry. It’s not for lack of trying, as the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Morgan Amalfitano, Marc Wilson, Steven N’Zonzi and even Wifried Zaha have all recently been linked with a move to Selhurst Park, but business appears slow.
Last season’s star performers are all still in the lineup but if injuries hit any of the core contributors then it may well spell disaster, especially up front.
Frazier Campbell could prove a great value addition if he can return the 10-plus goals some expect, but they’ll need more firepower considering the entire team hit the back of the net just 33 times in 2013-14.
Key man: Mile Jedinak
Jedinak was quietly one of the Premier League’s most impressive performers last season, dominating the midfield with his tough-tackling presence, underrated technical ability and outstanding leadership qualities.
The 30-year-old Australian won’t receive many accolades or headlines for his efforts but his importance to Pulis’s side shouldn’t be underestimated.
One to watch: Jonny Williams
One of the bright spots of Place’s 2012-13 promotion, Williams was linked with a £10 million to Arsenal a few seasons back, but the diminutive midfielder struggled in his top-flight debut, eventually being sent out on loan to Ipswich.
He impressed back in the Championship, however, and, if he can just get over his recent injury problems, then the 20-year-old Welsh international could become a regular fixture in the side.
Predicted finish: 14th
Last season’s 11th-place finish masks what a largely challenging campaign it was for Palace and the aim again this year should simply be to achieve survival.
Pulis has already had a large say in helping Stoke become an established Premier League side through slow building, and securing a third-consecutive top-flight season would be clear progress for the club.
Where will Crystal Palace finish this season?