Four key Crystal Palace stars for the season opener against Arsenal

A look at which players Crystal Palace need to step up to get a result against the Gunners.

As Arsenal were comfortably dispatching champions City in Sunday’s Charity Shield curtain raiser, Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis may well have been looking on in despair, wondering how his side can hope to overcome the North London giants when the Premier League kicks off next Saturday.

If the Eagles are to improve upon the 2-0 defeat of last season, here are four of the players who will need to stand up and be counted:

Joel Ward

There were muffled suggestions of “Joel Ward for England” towards the back end of last season, as Kyle Walker was ruled out of the World Cup, and Glen Johnson put in some less-than-convincing performances for Liverpool at right back. Ward can play on both flanks, and even moved into central midfield for a brief period. His presence at either right or left back will be vital to stopping the abundance of offensive talent at Arsene Wenger’s disposal, including Chilean summer signing Alexis Sanchez.

Mile Jedinak

The sole Eagle to fly over to Brazil for the World Cup, Jedinak captained the boys from Down Under as they bowed out of the tournament in the first round, scoring against the Dutch along the way. A man-mountain in the centre of midfield last season, the club's skipper will be charged with sitting in front of the back four and gently reminding influential players, such as the delicate Mesut Özil, that no such time on the ball will be given to them. If Jedinak is able to successfully break up the play and get Palace moving on the counter attack, they might just be able to get their influential attacking players on the ball, and cause problems for the Arsenal defence.

Marouane Chamakh

The much-maligned Moroccan became a figure of fun towards the end of his stay at Arsenal, but last season saw a renaissance for the striker, as he took up a deeper playmaker role. At times he displayed talent that marked him out as a cut above the other members of the playing squad, and indicated how the ex-Arsenal misfit could be the holder of a Champions League goalscoring record, having scored in six matches in a row for Bordeaux. Chamakh still has a soft spot for Arsenal, but his composure on the ball and ability to link up play will be key if his current club are to gain anything from his old stamping ground.

Dwight Gayle

Having gone from non-league to Premier League in just a couple of years, Dwight Gayle took a fair amount of time to adjust to the demands of top-level football. However, despite this, as well as only actually starting one league match under Tony Pulis, the ex-Posh striker managed to end the season as the club’s top goalscorer with eight overall in league and cup, including a memorable brace that effectively ended Liverpool’s title ambitions. He is perhaps not even likely to start against Arsenal, if Palace’s final pre season friendly starting line up was anything to go by, but undoubtedly as the game goes on a natural goalscorer such as Gayle could have the decisive say. An Arsenal fan from his youth, who better to condemn the Gunners to a second successive opening day defeat?

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