Eye on the Opposition: Crystal Palace vs. Swansea (26.08.2017)

Written by Jack Pierce

Crystal Palace face Swansea City in a fixture that Palace fans will hope won't be a repeat of the last time the two sides met. Here is Jack Pierce with a look at what to expect. 

Selhurst Schalke

Can you call the third league game a six pointer?

If you can, call Saturday's visit of Swansea one. There'll be no need for melodrama come 4.50pm on Saturday afternoon if we lose, given the amount of season left, but rest assured that people will lose their proverbial should we lose. The Palace faithful had high hopes for the new regime and to lose the first two home league games to Huddersfield and Swansea would not be great.

Swansea, off the back of a 4-0 thumping at home to an impressive looking Manchester United side will be keen to go into the international break positively and will view a trip Selhurst Park as an ideal location to do exactly that. Last time they came to see us, despite a wonderful goal from Wilf, Angel Rangel sealed a Swansea victory which was the beginning of the Paul Clement turnaround and gave Sam Allardyce the clearest hint possible that there was a lot of work to do with the mess left by his predecessor.

Both clubs survived last season's dogfight, at ultimately Hull's expense, and go into this season with hopes of avoiding peering over their shoulder for the whole campaign this time around. Despite the hope, indications are that both sides will spend most of the season in and around the end of the table that no club want to and suggests Saturday's result is an important one as points off those in a similar position are of such value.

Paul Clement has had a full pre season with his squad and will hope they can build on the good performances offered under his leadership once he took over in January. Inheriting a group of players and a set of fans who'd resigned themselves to the drop, Clement's role in The Swans staying should be applauded. After a disappointing spell at Derby in his first role as a number one, there were suspicions that the top flight would be a little beyond Clement and that he was nothing more than a very good assistant, as proved previously, but after managing to steer Swansea away from what looked like certain relegation, he's regained some of the credibility lost after his spell in the East Midlands.

If he's to do the same this season, it'll be without the talismanic Gylfi Sigurdsson who, after protracted negotiations, has finally joined Everton. £45 million was the fee and whether or not that represents good business for Swansea or Everton, the Liberty Stadium club are without a player whose influence on them staying up last season is undeniable. Goals, assists and the confidence to drive his side up the park, the Icelandic international represents a huge loss for Clement's side. Even if the money is invested cleverly into the squad, it'll likely take time for those players to bed into new surroundings. It'll be Clement's job to bed those new signings into the side and hope they and those already at the club will be able to produce the sort of output now lacking without Sigurdsson to call upon.

A little reminiscent of last season's third game of the season, Bournemouth at home, this fixture represents a great chance for our lot to kickstart the season. That said, don't be surprised if we're hoping Scott Dann gets his head on to one tossed into the box as we enter the final minute of injury time.

Key players

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Alfie Mawson

If you're looking for a left field England call up for next summer's World Cup, should qualification be sealed, then Mawson may be a good shout. Since Paul Clement has come in at Swansea, Mawson has started every league game, performed impressively for England at the Under 21s Euros and started receiving the admiring glances of teams higher up the league.

Signed from Barnsley just over a year ago, Mawson looks more than at home in the top flight. Very happy to take the ball out of defence, organise those around him and actually defend, Mawson's got a long top flight career ahead of him regardless of whether that is at The Liberty Stadium or not.

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Roque Mesa

If you saw Las Palmas at any stage of last season, you couldn't have not been impressed by their diminutive central midfielder.

In what could prove one of the shrewdest pieces of business this summer, Paul Clement has bought Mesa to South Wales for just over £10 million. Smart on the ball, not shy of a tackle and tactically very clever, Mesa could dictate play on Saturday just as Aaron Mooy did a fortnight ago if given the time and space.

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Tammy Abraham

A little like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, there was a raised eyebrow or two when Chelsea decided to let Abraham out on loan for the season. Short of central striking options without Diego Costa, Abraham could have played third fiddle to Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi this season but the decision was taken to send him out to get Premier League experience and Swansea won the race for his signature.

A little raw in his first two top flight games for his temporary employers, Abraham has still got into scoring positions. Wouldn't surprise many if he broke his Premier League duck on Saturday afternoon, would it?