Crystal Palace are off to a dismal start to their Premier League campaign. The Eagles will travel to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday to face newly-promoted Middlesbrough who are off to a fine start after a 7-year absence. The Eagles started their season with a 0-1 loss against West Brom at home and then they were beaten 1-0 by London rivals Spurs. Things improved very little against Bournemouth as they could salvage just one point against the Cherries following a 1-1 stalemate.
On the other hand, Boro’s much-awaited Premier League comeback campaign has been so far so good. Aitor Karanka’s side started with a 1-1 draw against Stoke City on the opening day but did enough to beat their nearest rivals Sunderland 2-1 in the second game week. A goalless draw against West Brom took them to five points from three games. Yet to be beaten this season, Boro hold the upper hand over Crystal Palace in terms of form but Alan Pardew’s side will be keen to get their season going.
Here is the predicted Crystal Palace lineup against Middlesbrough.
Steve Mandanda made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth and the experienced French custodian should be preferred ahead of Wayne Hennessey for a place between the sticks. Joel Ward will be the undisputed choice in the right-back position while Pape Souare will keep his place in the left-back positions. Scott Dann is likely to pair up with summer signing James Tomkins at the heart of the defence.
Both Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur are doubtful for the game with minor injuries and will be subject to late fitness tests. If the duo misses the game, Alan Pardew has a major decision to make. If Cabaye and McArthur misses the game, Joe Ledley and Jason Puncheon are likely to start in the middle of the park. Andros Townsend is likely to start on the right wing while Wilfred Zaha is likely to feature on the left flank.
Crystal Palace’s club record signing Christian Benteke looked isolated up front against Bournemouth and Alan Pardew did a great job by bringing in another quality striker this summer in the form of Loic Remy on loan from Chelsea. The Frenchman had worked with Pardew at Newcastle formerly and is likely to be thrown directly to the starting XI alongside Benteke up front. With Benteke’s aerial ability and Remy’s pace, Crystal Palace now have a deadly attack and we have to wait and see how they combine in their first outing together.