The Opposition View - Crystal Palace
1) What are your hopes and expectations for the season?
The more I seem to say I'll be delighted with the progress that a midtable finish would mean, the more we seem to win matches and shoot a little higher up the league. Obviously given then past few seasons we've had simply not being in a relegation battle would be a plus and a foundation of improvement to work from, but with how we are playing at the moment whilst a genuine promotion push I still think is a step too far, being in and around the play off line doesn't seem to be that much of a stretch currently.
Still I'll be happy with around 12th :-)
2) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team?
Weaknesses in some ways is our inability to break teams down, if Plan A doesn't work and Plan B with a change in personnel doesn't work, it's like we get stuck. We keep huffing away but you don't 'feel' like we'll get the breakthrough, whereas when it works you do feel we could score everytime we make an opening. That's something that will hopefully come as the team gel more and our younger lads gain that extra experience.
I do worry a little about depth when injuries or suspensions hit, especially as the youngsters get tired hitting the final third of the season - but that's a worry for every team I think.
Strengths, we are fighting for each other and maintaining our discipline this season. Confidence is high throughout the camp and that lift on it's own is doing wonders for us during games.
I know there have been a fair few personnel changes over the summer, and the introduction of a few more young lads, but something just seems to be clicking more often than not this season, especially away from home.
3) Who are the player/s to look out for?
Murray is settling in well, Zaha and Scannell you'll know about from their performances this season already. It's hard to pick in reality, because whilst certain players are taking more plaudits than others, with how we've tightened up at the back, the risk for you in the game could come from anybody forward in my mind.
4) How is the popularity with your manager at the moment?
Higher than ever, and that takes some doing given Dougie hasn't been able 'to do wrong' since taking over. Such is the respect we have for the man, he can't put a foot wrong, irrespective of what happens on the pitch.
The fact we've hit this season running, good performances, good results, tasty league position, his stock just keeps going up really.
They'll be a sticky patch, but I doubt it'll change his popularity amongst the fans. He could've took us down last season, and I still don't believe the fans would've blamed him in the main.
5) What do you put your good league position down to?
As said, we are just clicking more often than not now. Good preparation before a game, we are sticking to the plan as best we can and playing our own game instead of simply hoping we get a point this time round. Everybody is onside, and giving their all. Confidence is probably the key quality.
6) What's your prediction for the game?
I'm not sure why but I'm expecting a good one, I think 3-2 to us - but it'll be tight.