Crystal Palace have bid in the region of £2.5m for Lille left-back Pape Souaré, according to the MailOnline.
Souaré, 24, has made 45 appearances for French side Lille since his debut in 2010, scoring three goals.
The pacy Senegal international is strong both defensively and offensively, with great athleticism, and could be exactly what Palace need.
He has appeared three times for Senegal, and also played four matches in their run to the Olympic quarter finals in 2012.
Palace have been without a recognised senior left-back since the summer when Jonny Parr and Dean Moxey left the club, but were not replaced by either Tony Pulis or Neil Warnock, with Joel Ward filling in; but now the Eagles have targeted an established left-back in the January transfer window, with Souaré fitting the bill.
Zeki Fryers joined from Tottenham in the summer for £1.5m but he has been limited to a solitary performance against Newcastle in the League Cup.
Meanwhile, Ipswich's hefty demands for promising defender Tyrone Mings have put Palace off, with the Tractor Boys setting his price tag at £10m, meaning it is unlikely he will leave Portman Road this summer, so the Eagles have set their sights on signing Souaré.
Hrmph. A defeat for Palace at the champions, with a slice of bad luck chucked in. Here's Mark Gardiner's assessment...
A team with no recognised strikers met a team that ended up with no recognised strikers – it was a strange sort of game. Palace didn’t play badly – indeed I struggle to think of anyone who had a poor match – and while no-one was outstanding either, they were firmly in the game at half-time. After that the conceding of some ill-timed goals allied to some strikes of poor fortune led to defeat, but again it could not be denied that City, despite losing £££’s of attackers, still flooded the pitch with expensive talent and deserved their win, despite Julian not making one save.
Neil Warnock made two changes, with Campbell replacing the injured Chamakh up front, while the more reliable efforts of Puncheon replaced the mercurial talents of Zaha, perhaps with a view to defensive duties. City chose a strange looking beast of a team with Milner a nominal striker – a false no. 9? Yet this formation allowed them a great deal of fluidity, with Silva & Nasri weaving passing patterns on the edge of our box, and Toure threatening with runs from deep. This made it difficult for the two central defenders to determine who needed picking up, and just as last year the first half saw City have a lot of the ball on the edge of our box – fortunately their finishing was just as off target as then, with Toure being the prime offender. One difference this season was that, with midfield firmly anchored, City could push both full backs forward and they managed to get behind our full backs on a regular basis, especially on Ward’s left flank. Only some desperate defending from the likes of Dann prevented these crosses leading to something worse.
Still, on the bright side, there were acres of space to play in behind City’s midfield, and all three Palace offensive players had their moments. Puncheon made some early inroads while the most potent threat again looked to come from Bolasie down the left, although at times he did switch with Campbell and play down the middle, and the latter went close (well, we thought so from 120 yards away) with an acrobatic overhead kick. Palace’s best chance came from a set piece when it appeared Jedinak had a free header, but the ball somehow didn’t go in – we couldn’t tell if it was Hart who saved it or not.
The keeper also spilled a cross shot from Bolasie that didn’t drop to a striped shirt. City’s best two chances came late as well, and both came down our left: a dangerous low cross cannoned off Dann just wide of the near post, then Zabaleta broke through to dink the ball over Speroni and presumably through a hole in the net at the far post, as it looked geometrically impossible to fail to score. Still, 0-0 at half-time and Palace were still well in the game.
We needed a good start to the second half to put pressure on City’s underpowered attack; sadly we failed. An inability to clear the ball (sometimes row Z is an excellent place to find) and yet another cut-back from our left flank found Silva, who appeared to have switched into a more central role. His shot could well have been saved by Speroni but an attempted block by Dann saw the ball bounce just over the keeper and have enough pace to beat the covering defender inside the near post.
Despite the change in circumstances Palace’s formation & tactics remained unchanged, and I think the manager was probably right – keep the score at 1-0 and even if we don’t take advantage of a break, then an effort in the final 15 minutes could be staged. City relaxed a little and there was still plenty of defending to be done; Speroni and the rest looked to be coping, but the elusive runners from midfield forced another opening, this time down our right, and although Silva looked in the middle of a thicket of Palace defenders, no-one was close enough to prevent the second goal.
This time a change was made, with Campbell withdrawn, but instead of Gayle taking his place, Wilf came on down the right, Puncheon switched to the left, and Bolasie played down the middle. Although both Demichelis & Mangala appeared vulnerable to pace, the ball needed to be played over or around them; instead, with our midfield deep, the ball was too often played in the air, and although Yannick tried hard, if he did win the odd header then there was little direction in the lay-off. The missing Chamakh, Doyle or Murray would have been more useful, while it seems Warnock has lost faith in Gayle for the time being.
Still, Zaha’s first touch was a beautiful cross that found McArthur completely unmarked in the box, and he buried a header past Hart. The linesman was flagging immediately, and we thought nothing if the decision until most of South London texted that James was onside. A goal back then would at least have made City sweat a little. Palace pushed on and forced free kicks and corners, but from one of these Puncheon’s poorly weighted pass was picked off, and on the counter Toure finally buried a chance beyond Speroni. With that the game was effectively over: City were happy to move the ball around without overextending themselves, while it was in Palace’s interests to prevent a rout. Thomas made an unexpected appearance while Bannan cheered the away supporters, but the game had long gone by then.
Speroni – 6 – It is strange that Julian is probably less busy in the Premier League than in the Championship. A deflection cost him his chance to save the first goal while he had no chance with the second, and if he was beaten at his near post for the third he was exposed by the speed of City’s break. Apart from that he didn’t have a shot to save – some dangerous low crosses yes, but nothing on target. Irritated the good denizens of the Etihad with his carefully positioned goal kicks – sadly they usually weren’t as well delivered.
Ward – 6 – For a full back often outflanked he didn’t have that bad a game, as City were able to push a fullback & midfielder down his channel for a 3-on-2 overlap most of the time. He made enough challenges and blocks to at least prevent the whole left flank coming off at the hinges.
Kelly – 6 – Didn’t face as much trouble as Joel, but did have the benefit of Puncheon’s durability to help him. Not sure how culpable he was for the second goal.
Hangeland – 6 – Difficult game without a real striker to mark but held the defence together on the edge of the box often enough, and did cause City’s defence the odd moment of concern at set pieces.
Dann – 7 – Some heroic defending so ironic it was his attempted block that deceived Speroni for the first goal.
Jedinak – 6 – A real battle against City’s overmanned luxury midfield and saw a lot of action deep in our half; in the end a defeat on points was no disgrace. Not sure how good a chance his header was or what kept it out.
Ledley – 6 – Pretty much the same for Joe, although he did feature in a couple of first half breaks. A lot of work without the ball, closing down and supporting the defence.
McArthur – 7 – Had slightly more creative role than the other two central midfielders, and somehow turned up unnoticed in City’s box to place a firm header past the blond shampoo ad (unnoticed except for that bloody linesman!!!!!). Has probably cemented a place in the team with his recent performances.
Bolasie – 6 – Frustrating as ever, he does the difficult in escaping legions of defenders, then too often let the easy bit of passing to a striped shirt undone. Still, he kept City’s right back occupied some of the time; defensively found Zabaleta a little beyond him. Forced a fumble from Hart in the first half and late on had an acrobatic overhead kick just off-target. By then playing through the middle which made perfect sense given his excellent goal-scoring record (1 in about 2 years?). And again I ask why do we let him anywhere near a corner kick?
Puncheon – 6 – Good first half, including some decent set piece deliveries, but saw less of the ball after half time. Sadly it was his careless lay-off that set up the third killer goal.
Campbell – 5 – Worked hard as usual and did seem to go close with a bicycle kick, but his best chance came with a long break at the end of which he appeared unwilling to strike with his right foot and lost the ball when switching to his left. Switched to the flank occasionally – a defensive move given Yannick’s a little less reliable.
Zaha – 6 – First two contributions were a great cross that set up a goal (to all except that bloody linesman!!!) and then won a free kick in a dangerous position. Is Wilf better coming on as an impact player against tiring defenders, and would he have been a better prospect through the middle than Bolasie?
Thomas – 5 – Late sub who looked to bottle a 50/50 with Kolarov, which will not impress the manager.
Bannan – 6 – Even later sub who did put in one good low cross.
Yaya Sanogo could be on his way to Selhurst Park this January after it was revealed Arsenal are willing to let the forward leave on loan, and it has emerged Crystal Palace are interested in a move for the forward.
The 21-year-old has been made available for loan by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger having made just three appearances for the Gunners this season, and Palace boss Neil Warnock is thought to be keen to snap him up until the end of the season.
It would be Palace's second loan signing of the season - the maximum permitted under Premier League rules - after Wilfried Zaha returned to the club from Manchester United in the summer.
The Eagles are in the market for a striker to bolster their attacking options, and with a target man thought to be at the top of their requirements, 6ft 4 Sanogo could provide competition for Fraizer Campbell and Dwight Gayle.
The pacy forward can play as a striker or on the wing, and has a total goalscoring return of 27 from 74 appearances, including 11 goals in 21 for former club Auxerre, before Arsenal snapped him up in July 2013.
He has been capped by France at youth level from U16 up to U21, with an excellent scoring record for the national side.
Meanwhile, Norweigan press has claimed that Palace will sign 19-year-old central midfielder Andreas Breimyr in the summer. The youngster's 21-year-old brother had previously spent time in England with Aldershot's academy, before moving to Bryne FK in August 2012.
Despite an iffy run of form that has seen the team drop to just one point about the drop, football fans reckon Palace will still stay up.
Neil Warnock's men have won just one of their last six games to fall perilously close to the relegation zone.
But while Palace fans might be feeling a bit unsure about the end of the season, fans of other clubs are confident they will survive again.
Carlsberg surveyed over 1500 football fans and 82% said they think Palace will stay up.
They also asked them which three teams they thought would get relegated, and ten most popular results were:
Burnley – 66%
QPR – 56%
Leicester City – 45%
Hull City – 22%
West Bromwich Albion – 18%
Crystal Palace – 18%
Sunderland – 16%
Aston Villa – 12%
Stoke City – 10%
West Ham United – 10%
Woop! So there you go. Fans of other clubs are confident Palace will stay up. Are you? Tweet us @FYPFanzine.
Carlsberg did Christmas speeches…. Head to CarlsbergFanSquad.co.uk on Boxing Day to see Jeff Stelling's ultimate review of the year. Follow @CarlsbergFooty for Barclays Premier League ticket giveaways and more.
The Carlsberg Fan Squad has teamed up with Five Year Plan to offer one lucky reader a pair of tickets to the game on Boxing Day.
Carlsberg don't do the Queen's Christmas speech, but if they did they'd probably be the best in the world. That's why this Boxing Day they're serving up the ultimate review of the year, courtesy of Jeff Stelling, in their very own King's Speech. The King's Speech will go live at midday on Boxing Day exclusively at www.youtube.com/Copa90, so make sure you watch before heading to the match!
Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rG7cwDr9xY
To enter please answer the following question: Which team does Jeff Stelling famously support?
1. Hartlepool United
2. Manchester United
The Carlsberg Fan Squad understands what matters to fans, whether it’s ensuring Barclays Premier League grounds are filled with real fans, securing the best spot in the pub to watch the match, or helping fans enjoy the festive football fixtures.
Make sure you follow @CarlsbergFooty for weekly Barclays Premier League ticket competitions.
Another frustrating day. Here's Mark Gardiner's assessment...
This may be one of my shortest match reports ever as... well, not very much happened. Or, to be more accurate, not much decent football was glimpsed. Stoke City may not be the mastodons created by Tony Pulis, and Rory Delap has mercifully been lost in the mists of time, but their contribution to this afternoon’s sporting delight wasn’t much better than Palace’s. If the first half was uneven the second half was simply one long torrent of mediocrity, and both sides seemed happy with a point a long way out, more fearful of losing a point than gaining two.
Despite rumours of injury & illness, Palace fielded an unchanged starting XI, although McArthur was playing in a little more advanced position than against Spurs. This had benefits – the midfield was solid – and a downside in that James is not a support striker, despite a very decent effort. Early exchanges saw both Bolasie & Zaha threaten a little on the flanks, and it came as no surprise when man-of-the-moment Bolasie was involved in the goal. It took a fine little pass by Wilf to set Yannick free, and his cross was met with a fine flicked header by McArthur that took Begovic out of the game, the ball looping inside the far post.
Palace had started with some decent passing moves, including a couple of beauties from an unlikely source in Hangeland, and within a minute of taking the lead Bolasie was again free on the left and playing in McArthur. Sadly a fine block tackle saw the ball cleared down the flank and Palace were caught short of defenders, with Ward out of position, Dann & Hangeland drawn wide to cover & with Kelly suddenly facing an infestation of Potters on the far post. Typically a deflected cross-cum-shot fell kindly to Peter Crouch who tapped in his regulation goal against us from close range.
Palace’s lead had lasted about 90 seconds and, although we didn’t know it, that was pretty much the highlights package for the whole game sewn up. At this stage both teams were trying to play passing possession football, although Stoke’s tactic of playing Walters out wide on the right saw a lot of long diagonal balls played at or over Joel Ward’s head; fortunately after a couple of moments’ panic he dealt with that threat quite well. Palace in return often looked to find Bolasie early, and he was the main threat to Stoke; on the other flank Wilf’s game by comparison seemed to lack a little in determination. Both wingers had spells on the left and forced low saves at the near post by Begovic, and Wilf had a decent shout for a penalty turned down when a cross struck a Stoke arm. Stoke’s sole response was a late save forced on Julian.
The second half... well, after McArthur’s early effort that took a deflection & needed a fine save by Begovic, the game rapidly broke down. The passing of both sides started to fall away, and the midfield enforcers gained ascendancy over the creative players. Bolasie still hinted at the possibility of breaking open the defence, but the supply lines to him were well interdicted, while Zaha just seemed to fade from the game. McArthur and Chamakh ran hard (the latter breaking down) but both were less effective than before the interval, and the key performers were Jedinak & Ledley. Stoke’s game had also regressed, and although they had one small period where momentum built up over s series of corners, but apart from the odd bump & thump Julian remained unworried, with the sole exception of a late Crouch effort that Speroni saved with relative ease.
I was praying for the final whistle long before the event on the basis that I have seen so many of these matches in past Premiership years, and they always end up with a late goal for some bloody awful visiting team (Bolton, Portsmouth, Charlton – yes, I’m looking at you!) just to top off a wonderful afternoon. At least this time we avoided that ignominy, but I don’t think I’ll bother waiting up until just before the Football League Show titles for the “highlights.”
Speroni – 6 – Two decent saves, not much chance with the goal, and some fun under crosses facing off with giants. Distribution was poor.
Ward – 5 – Thought he coped well with the threat of Walters but was caught out of position by Stoke’s swift counter for their equaliser.
Kelly – 5 – Can’t really blame him for the goal, as at one stage he was marking three opponents on the far post, and did have one good run, but it was his careless concession of the ball, having just won it, that invited Stoke’s one period of second half pressure.
Dann – 6 – Drawn out of position for their goal and did contribute a couple of appalling passes straight into the stand, but defensively coped well with their attacks.
Hangeland – 6 – Showed some unexpected talent at passing the ball in the first half, then it went to his head and in the second he not only gave Julian an unnecessary and overhit back pass across the goal, but also ventured way upfield only to pick out a red & white shirt and find himself way out of position. Defensively solid although his headers should carry more conviction.
Jedinak – 6 – Just his sort of game as he broke up Stoke’s play, especially in the second half, but like most of both sides’ players his creative side atrophied in the second 45. Booked and perhaps lucky that one solid & late challenge was under the eye of a referee who was most lenient all game.
Ledley – 6 – Pretty much the same as Jedi but with far less frills.
McArthur – 7 – Impressive first half, with an excellent header leaving Begovic helpless, and could have grabbed a second goal but for the keeper getting his revenge. After that as the game broke down he still tried hard but very little came off.
Bolasie – 7 – Continued his impressive run of performances in the first half, but found his supply of ball broken in the second.
Zaha – 6 – A couple of good moments in the first half but didn’t appear as wholehearted as he had at White Hart Lane. Await independent verification that he bothered to turn out for the second half.
Chamakh – 6 – Worrying that our lone striker hasn’t scored since August and I can’t remember the last time he had a shot on goal. His link play was good in the first half but fell away in the second – whether this was the cause or symptom of our game falling apart is a good question. Seemed to have a running battle with the trolls in Stoke’s defence before going in the fetlock.
Puncheon – 5 – Replaced Zaha but hardly had any influence on play.
Gayle – 5 – Replaced the hamstrung Chamakh and was even less effective.
Bannan – 6 – One decent cross, a couple of laughable attempts at climbing beanstalks to beat the giants from the Potteries.
Here's Jack Pierce with his eye on this week's opponents; Stoke City...
So, Stoke beat Arsenal at The Britanniaia last Saturday.
Arsenal's record in The Potteries is fairly abysmal and having demonstrated their fragility at the back on plenty of occasions this season, Mark Hughes' side smelt blood and went for the kill. 3-0 by half time, the news of which made our opponents at White Hart Lane cheer at half time, Stoke resisted Arsenal's comeback and earned a three points their fans revelled in.
Arsenal fans, as demonstrated by their charming meet and greet service at Stoke on Trent train station after the game, were probably less enamoured with the performance and result.
Stoke's season thus far has been one of ups and downs. For the away wins at The Etihad and White Hart Lane, there have home disappointments against Leicester and Aston Villa. The two aforementioned away performances were both very impressive. Renowned for their home form since promotion in 2008, memorable away days haven't been in great supply but to beat Tottenham and especially City on their own turf shouldn't be sniffed at. They will be arriving at Selhurst on Saturday knowing that they've performed well on the road this season and will be confident of leaving SE25 with all three points.
Since taking over from he who wears the cap before the start of last season, Mark Hughes has appeared to do a good job. Expected to struggle when Tony Pulis left the club after securing Premier League status for the club, Hughes led the club to a 9th place finish last season and indications for this season seem positive too.
The core to Stoke's side is much the same to the one Pulis built with Messrs Begovic, Shawcross, N'Zonzi and Crouch forming it but Hughes has added players to complement that core; players such as Erik Pieters, Stephen Ireland, Mame Biram Diouf, Victor Moses and perhaps most left field, Bojan Krkic - 'The next Messi'... or was he 'The next Raul'?
Bojan's form in the last month or so has caught the eye and having struggled to gain much playing time in the last couple of seasons during loan spells at AC Milan and Ajax, the young Spaniard will surely benefit from a consistent run of Premier League games in Hughes’ side. Playing behind the main striker, Bojan has been able to use his clever movement and neat touch to create chances as well as sneak into the opposition box and take chances himself such as the one he did against Arsenal last weekend. Aged only 24 and costing under £2 million, Stoke might have picked up one of the bargains of the season. If they get the La Masia product injury free and confident, he will be a serious threat to a lot of Premier League sides in the coming seasons.
Last season's corresponding fixture was just the other side of Christmas to this one and a cleverly taken Jason Puncheon goal saw Palace run out 1-0 winners and it was that sort of result that led to Palace securing top flight status last season. With this match being the last in SE25 before Christmas, a repeat of that 1-0 win (or the three points however they come) really would be a welcome present for those braving the South London chill tomorrow.
The FYP team bloody love Christmas! And to prove it, each yeah they have released a festive tune.
This year, it's all about Dwight Gayle who JD is just desperate to see get a regular run in the team.
Last year, it was a letter to Santa to keep Palace in the Premier League (which he did, the absolute legend) and in previous years there have been all sorts of Xmas covers.
You can download the entire back catalogue of FYP festive tunes here for just one pound!
Meanwhile, watch this year's video below!