It took a lot of money, but Crystal Palace could have hit the jackpot with the signing of Christian Benteke. Goals have followed him wherever he has played, meaning the Selhurst Park faithful can now call one of English football’s deadliest finishers one of their own.
Despite growing up in east London, Andros Townsend’s journey to SE25 has been a long and winding one. The Eagles will be the 12th club of his professional career but he is hoping that after putting pen to paper on a five-year contract last month he’ll be able to call Selhurst Park home for the foreseeable future.
Bought to score goals last summer, Connor Wickham stepped up when Palace needed it most to send the Eagles to the FA Cup final. Now they’re there, he’s ready to repeat the feat to possibly clinch the first major piece of silverware in the club’s 110 year history, and make dreams come true.
It’s been a debate which has raged throughout the season amongst the Palace fans - who should be the club’s number one number one? It seems as though Alan Pardew has decided Wayne Hennessey is his man, helping the shot-stopper to embark on one of his best seasons to date, which could be set to get so much better.
Damien Delaney is due some luck of the Irish. In his last two Selhurst Park encounters he has twice endured injury-time heartache which typifies the Eagles’ recent Premier League fortunes, but as he approaches his 100th appearance in the division he believes the corner is due to be turned sooner rather than later.
When it comes to FA Cup semi-finals Joe Ledley has form, with a wondergoal for Cardiff City handing him the chance to play in the 2008 showpiece. After that ended in disappointment he is hoping that a second chance of glory could give him the winner's medal he desires ahead of a big few months for club and country.
For Yannick Bolasie, Wembley has always been so close but so far away. Growing up on the doorstep of the national stadium, he spent the entire 2013 play-off final triumph on the bench but now with 90 minutes separating the fit-again winger from playing on world football’s most hallowed pitch, you sense he’ll do everything possible to achieve that dream.
Only a hamstring injury has put the brakes on Jason Puncheon’s quest to become the Eagles’ first Premier League centurion, but if his career is anything to go by then it won’t be long until one of the Palace’s faithful’s own is tearing down wings once again.
There’s very little that’s certain in football, but one thing that can’t be argued is that Emmanuel Adebayor knows how to hit the back of the net. Having registered on his Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur debuts, the Togolese hitman could become the first player in Premier League history to score on his fourth in a row if he gets his Eagles career off to a flyer, and cap one of the most impressive comeback stories of them all.
Instinct is paying off for Joel Ward, who took his season’s goal tally to three at Southampton a fortnight ago. Playing with a new-found freedom, the right-back was in the right place at the right time to get on the scoresheet again as he aims to be a valuable asset at both ends of the field.
These are 10 words that will strike fear into Premier League defences and get Palace fans even more excited for 2016. On 200 occasions they've gasped and cheered at the local boy done good’s displays in red and blue, and on the occasion of his double century of Eagles games his promise that there’s even more to come can only raise excitement levels in SE25 for what the next 12 months may bring.
A lot has happened in SE25 over the past four-and-a-half years and Mile Jedinak has been involved in the majority of the highs and the lows. Having reached 150 Eagles games, now is a good time to reminisce about some glorious moments and compare the club he walked into in 2011 with the one he captains today.
Sometimes it seems as though the script is already written before a game kicks off, so it had to be Scott Dann who would grab Palace’s winner against Liverpool – the club he supported as a boy back in the city he grew up in. His career meanwhile has been far from predictable, and here he reflects on a decade that has seen him go from non-league obscurity to Premier League matchwinner.
Bakary Sako’s journey to make his dreams become reality is one of football’s less documented tales, but an intriguing one all the same. Starting out in deepest, darkest France, he has played for big name clubs alongside big name players, but a steady climb through the divisions on both sides of the English Channel has finally seen his ambition achieved with the Eagles.
When Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and co are in full flight, Martin Kelly has one of the best views in football. Sat behind the explosive, exciting wingers is a man who is happy to unceremoniously tidy up and give them the ball so he can watch them do their thing, and with two clean sheets in a row and the Eagles flying high in the table, the plan seems to be working to perfection.
"There are always things I need to learn" These are strong words from someone who once rejected the chance to attend Harvard University as a youngster, but the multi-talented Patrick Bamford is happy to accept that he has a lot to master in the school of hard knocks that is the Premier League. Given his track record, he looks destined to make the grade when his opportunity in SE25 arises.
Having seemingly been around for years, it’s easy to forget that Connor Wickham is just 22-years-old. He made his professional debut before taking his GCSEs, but a promising start at Ipswich Town gave way to setbacks at Sunderland. Now at Palace, he’s hoping that he can get back on track and fulfil the considerable promise that could yet see him become one of the league’s most lethal goalscorers.
Yohan Cabaye’s much heralded arrival last month sent out a strong signal of intent to the rest of the Premier League that the Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with in 2015/16, and his goal at Norwich City last weekend gave him the perfect start. With our club record signing already hitting his stride, just sit back and enjoy watching the midfield artist create the first of many masterpieces on the green canvas that is Selhurst Park this season.
Next week sees Mile Jedinak jet 10,000 miles from London to Melbourne with a single aim - to become the first Australian to lift the Asian Cup in his nation's history. Having seen the trophy slip through his grasp four years ago, the Socceroos skipper is hoping that this time home advantage will allow the Green and Gold to grab the silverware.
Last time Liverpool were in town, Julian Speroni thought it was his last performance for an adoring Selhurst audience with the curtain seemingly falling on his 10 year Palace tale. But thankfully a new deal penned in the summer has prolonged his stay, and ensured a testimonial at the end of the season for which there will be standing room only as a club legend takes a deserved bow.