Crystal Palace’s 2016 pre-season campaign kicks off this evening in Philadelphia and you will be able to watch the game live from midnight.
The players have been back in training less than two weeks and have only been Stateside for a matter of days, making the prospect of taking on a professional side in the middle of a league season that is going from strength to strength rather a daunting one, but it’s bound to be a task that the squad take to with genuine relish having not kicked a ball competitively for nearly two months.
Whilst the likes of Mile Jedinak, Steve Mandanda and Joe Ledley remain on holiday after busy summers, Alan Pardew does have a balanced group of players from which to pick, including new signings Andros Townsend and James Tomkins, who will both be desperate to make a positive impact on their first ever outings in red and blue.
Given the obvious challenge presented by the heat of a Wednesday evening in Philadelphia, we can expect an almost complete switch around in terms of personnel at the half-time interval, with the fixture being used as much for fitness purposes as a tactical and technical workout. With that in mind, it’s worth exercising a note of caution over what we can expect from the lads in the opening fixture of the pre-season calender, so as not to get too bent out of shape if the final score doesn’t look too clever on first viewing.
Ideally, we will be given a physical and mental test by the Union players, forcing the lads to work out any kinks in their game before the remaining two ties of the North American tour are played in the next few days, although, it could be argued that tonight’s will be the toughest game of the three that have been scheduled in by those behind the scenes.
It feels like an age since we last saw a Crystal Palace player kick a ball in anger; it’s good to have it back.