Matchday 1 preview – West Brom

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The new Premier League season gets under way this Saturday when Crystal Palace welcome West Bromwich Albion, managed by ex-Palace manager Tony Pulis, to Selhurst Park.

Nothing adds more spice to a game than the return of a former player or manager who has done the dirty on you and Pulis did the dirty on us from a great height when in August 2014 he walked out on Palace 2 days before our first game of the season against Arsenal at the Emirates.

To make matters worse for Pulis he has been installed as the favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked this season after a Chinese consortium completed an 85% purchase of West Brom on August 5th.

As usual, Pulis has been making noises all preseason about needing more players, a bigger transfer fund and so on, so it would not be a surprise if he isn’t still their manager come Saturday because the horrible bastard would probably have walked out on them by then.

Last season on October 3rd West Brom visited Selhurst and lost 2-0 to through goals by Yannick Bolase and a last minute Yohan Cabaye penalty. In the return fixture on February 27th, just 3 weeks before the tribunal verdict, Palace lost 3-2 at the Hawthorns in a game that was literally a game of two halves.

In the game, Palace were 3-0 down at half time and we mounted a spirited fight back in the second half, eventually losing 3-2.

As I have already mentioned, this will be the first time we’ve played against a Pulis team since an independent tribunal ruled that he had to pay Crystal Palace £3.5m after a dispute over a bonus for keeping the club in the Premier League.

Under the terms of his contract with Crystal Palace, Pulis was entitled to the bonus after taking us to an 11th-place finish in 2013-14 after joining with the club in the relegation zone. He was scheduled to be paid the sum – believed to be around £2m –before the end of August 2014 but it was brought forward at his request. Pulis then stunned the south London club by walking out on the eve of their opening Premier League fixture of the season against Arsenal citing disagreements over funds for new players.

Palace took the case to an independent mediation tribunal set up under FA rules to avoid football disputes going to court. The result was that on March 16th 2016 Pulis was been ordered to pay more than £3.5m. That sum is thought to include £1m in damages, with Pulis also ordered to pay both sides’ legal costs.

Under the confidential terms of the arbitration, neither party is allowed to comment on the case. However, it is understood Pulis was given several opportunities to settle without going to court but was so convinced that he’d win he preferred to go to court instead.

Let’s hope we add a little misery to the start of his season by taking 3 points from him and, maybe, add a little pressure?

In many ways Pulis is to Palace what Pardew is to Newcastle except Pardew did a decent job for them but was never liked, whatever he did.

Pulis on the other hand was welcomed to Selhurst with open arms, thought of highly after the end of the season only for him to climb up the ladder and do his best Steve Harrison impression on the Crystal Palace paper cup sitting down below.

Team news: Pape Souare, James Tomkins and James McArthur will miss the game through injury. Martin Kelly is expected to take over the left back role.

There should be debuts for Andros Townsend and Steve Mandanda.

It is not clear if Yannick Bolasie will be selected after it is widely reported that he has agreed personal terms to join Everton in a deal worth £25m, possibly rising to £30m.

Possible team: Mandanda, Ward, Kelly, Delaney, Dann, Jedinak, Cabaye, Puncheon, Townsend, Zaha and Wickham.

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