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View from Selhurst - Crystal Palace 01/12/12

We may have (finally) finished above them last season, but it's Palace who have made the better start to this campaign.

After topping the table, they've slipped a couple of places in recent weeks and while we have our fingers firmly crossed that the wheels have fallen off the caravan, it was important to speak to one of the Nigel's about their impressive season so far - providing we could find one without needing to advertise on Groupon, of course.

So, here's Stephen Bridle from Five Year Plan Fanzine on new stadiums, Dougie Freedman and Tom Dale....sorry, Wilfred Zaha

We've seen first hand what a brand-spanking new stadium can do for a club. Your owners reckoned a new home could be in place for 2015. What's the latest on that and how big a boost for the club do you think a move away from Selhurst could be?
The latest on that appears to be that the whole ground-move is dead in the water. A new ground would have been nice, but a chance now to redevelop Selhurst Park into something resembling a modern football ground is just as welcome. The council are seemingly on board so we're just waiting with baited breath on the outcome. It's still all very much behind closed doors at the moment.

Gus Poyet spent most of last season telling Brighton fans we'd done well to challenge for a play-off spot given a small budget. What's been the secret behind Palace leading the way this season given that yours must be one of the smaller ones in the league? 
I don't think there is a secret to it. Dougie Freedman did a very good job of getting the club's infrastructure back to a competitive level after it was torn away during the administration period. He also quietly went about assembling one of the best starting XIs in the entire league. We have strength across the park, perhaps not back-up for every position, but undoubtedly we have talent in there that most clubs in the Championship (and beyond) would love to get their hands on.

We've heard plenty about Wilfried Zaha already this season. Albion fans have an impression of him as an arrogant diver. What's he really like and how much do you honestly think he is worth?
I think a lot of the time people just look at the player and forget exactly what a transfer deal entails. You have to understand that while he is just too good for you he still has bags of potential left. What is pushing his price up as well is that we have him tied to a long term deal. 20m? Perhaps a little optimistic, but the price tag is there to put people off an approach more than anything else. When it does come time to part ways though I'd be furious at anything below double figures - and I'd still expect a hefty amount of add-ons to come with the deal.

What's the secret behind Glenn Murray's success so far in this campaign?
This one's simple: he's playing in a team that is creating chances. Last season we were guilty of playing boring, defensive football that looked more to stop the opposition scoring rather than putting the ball in the back of the net. This time out we have two tricky wingers who can beat their man and get a ball in the box. As well as a sharp midfield that's both solid and can get the ball forward on the ground at pace. We're spending more time in the opposing penalty area this season and when that happens and Murray is in the mix, he's always going to bag you some goals.

A club legend walking out at the first sniff of a "better" job. Do you think there was more to Dougie Freedman's departure than meets the eye?
I think there's things that went on behind the scenes that will probably come out in time. Freedman has used Radio Manchester already to have a little pop at chairman Steve Parish. It's sad, but we move on.

Can Palace maintain their start to the season and be genuine candidates for promotion under Ian Holloway?
I think so. When Holloway was announced as our new manager we were obviously quite pleased. I think we've got a guy in who has been there before. He knows what it takes to push through that barrier and break into the Premier League. With him at the helm and the squad that Dougie has assembled we're in with a very strong chance. Of course there are a lot of games left and the next few fixtures will be extremely important for us to get back on track and back to our winning ways, but I remain very optimistic. 

With both teams flying near the top at the minute and given the fact we didn't beat you last season, this is one of the most eagerly awaited derby clashes for Brighton fans in years. What's the view from the Palace support?
We're very excited. The way we've been playing recently we just can't wait to get on the pitch and put you lot to the sword. 
 
Apart from the obvious in Zaha and FFS Murray, who else should we be worried about facing on the day?
Everyone. No, seriously. We've grabbed goals from all over the park this year. We have a good solid defence and our midfield pairing of KG and Mile Jedinak is enough to grind down most teams in this division.  I'll highlight Andre Moritz and Yannick Bolasie as two to look out for. Bolasie taking up the opposite wing to Zaha - not as skilful and a bit older at 22 - he's certainly one to look out for. The kid has talent himself and teams so often concentrate on Zaha that Yannick could really punish you. Then there's Moritz. A Brazilian we signed on a free from Turkey's top division. The guy is pure class. His touch and his ability to pick out killer balls is mouth watering. Be afraid.

What do you know about the Albion this season and is there anybody in our side Palace fans are wary of facing?
Gus Poyet, in spite of being an unbearable knob-head, has actually done okay for you lot so it's no surprise to us that you're in the play off mix. There's no one I'm particularly wary about. Where we've been strong this season is in making other people play our game and being better than them at it. But of course, with a monstrous talent like Will Buckley in the squad anything can happen...

A prediction for the game please (no 5-0's either!)
2-1 Palace. Easy.

Many thanks to Stephen for his insight into the forthcoming fixture. He seems to be pretty confident of a Palace victory, so if it's the Albion celebrating a famous win at Selhurst don't forget to tweet Five Year Plan's Twitter to remind them of his prediction of them "putting us to the sword"

 


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