A week before the new campaign, Crystal Palace looked like one of the most solid sides in the Premier League after Tony Pulis comfortably guided them to safety despite arriving in a perilous position. Yet just two days before the start of the new season, Pulis quit over lack of transfer funds, leaving the Eagles in turmoil.
A familiar face came in to replace him though, as Neil Warnock returned to the club four years after leaving Selhurst Park for Queens Park Rangers. Warnock, 65, led Palace to Newcastle United for his first game back in charge, and a last gasp goal from Wilfried Zaha pinched a point for Palace at St. James' Park.
Zaha stole the headlines with a goal on his own return to the Palace setup, but it was striker Dwight Gayle who got the ball rolling in the second Warnock era by notching the opening goal. Gayle, 24, joined Palace for £4.5m from Peterborough last summer, but took a little time to get going before his famous brace against Liverpool in the penultimate game of the season.
This term, he smashed a hattrick against Walsall in the Capital One Cup to earn the start against Newcastle, and he didn't disappoint by opening the scoring inside the first minute. Defender Joel Ward believes that Gayle will continue to score goals this season, even lauding him as one of the best finishers he's seen, telling the Croydon Advertiser:
"Gayley is a poacher, we see it day in, day out, it’s unbelievable and he’s one of the best finishers I’ve seen," he said. "When he had that chance early on at Newcastle, you knew it was going in. He works hard and he does a lot of finishing after training."
"He stays out and makes sure his technique is right, left foot and right foot. In those clinical times you know he’s going to at least work the keeper or put in the back of the net."
With a fairly uninspiring crop of strikers in Marouane Chamakh, Frazier Campbell and new signing Andrew Johnson, Gayle could be relied upon more heavily this season - and if his recent displays are anything to go by, then Gayle could be finding the back of net regularly.