It’s finally back – at long last, Crystal Palace have a Premier League game once again, after what has felt like an eternity.
Things are all change in SE25. There’s a new manager, new players, a new face on the board in John Textor, and new coaching staff as well.
With Patrick Vieira’s appointment comes fresh ideas after a dull 2020/21 campaign under Roy Hodgson – it will be interesting to see what changes.
For now, let’s take a look at the XI we think Vieira will opt for in his first competitive game in charge of the Eagles…
No Joachim Andersen, Marc Guéhi in
Having failed to appear in the final pre-season game against Watford, we feel it’s unlikely Vieira will throw Joachim Andersen straight in.
As a result, James Tomkins could start in his place, alongside Marc Guéhi.
Coincidentally, the 21-year-old will be making his Premier League debut against Chelsea, where he rose through the youth ranks.
At full-back, we believe Nathaniel Clyne will play on the opposite flank to Tyrick Mitchell.
Position change for Cheikhou Kouyate
Despite featuring at centre-back during pre-season, Vieira may need to play Cheikhou Kouyate in midfield against the Blues.
Luka Milivojevic is missing for personal reasons, whereas Conor Gallagher is ineligible to face his parent club.
As a result, we feel Jaïro Riedewald and James McArthur should play either side of the £9.5m man, having impressed in pre-season.
If that trio is lacking energy and drive during the game, Vieira should introduce the more dynamic Jeffrey Schlupp – if he’s fit, of course.
Jean-Philippe Mateta dropped, Christian Benteke in
We like Jean-Philippe Mateta, don’t get us wrong.
However, Christian Benteke deserves to start – if he’s ready to – after his 10-goal season for us last term. He was simply brilliant.
His aerial ability will also be key if Guéhi or Tomkins need to go long at times.
Either side of the Belgian, Wilfried Zaha should start on the left, with Jordan Ayew on the right flank following Andros Townsend’s move to Everton.
Predicted lineup: Guaita; Clyne, Tomkins, Guéhi, Mitchell; Kouyate, Schlupp, McArthur; Zaha, Benteke, Ayew