It's been 14 long weeks, but finally Crystal Palace are back. Looking ahead to the Eagles' first game back against AFC Bournemouth, build-up to one of the club's most anticipated games in history with our preview below.
For any information regarding the season restart that's not specific to this evening's Cherries match, click here instead.
It doesn’t take an expert to see how crucial Jordan Ayew has been in Crystal Palace’s success this season. Netting in consecutive 1-0 wins against Brighton and Watford respectively, the Ghanaian has secured the Eagles two of their three back-to-back wins.
Ayew’s goals, in fact, have led him to teeter on the edge of breaking a seasonal club record with nine games to go. Having earned the Eagles 14 points from eight goals this season, Ayew sits just one point behind Andrew Johnson’s contribution in 2004/05. No single player has collected Palace more points in Premier League history.
With nine games left in 2019/20, and Palace having defended with confidence and ability before the suspension, it looks like Ayew is braced to overcome - perhaps quite significantly - Johnson’s longstanding record.
Opener vs. Manchester United— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) March 12, 2020
Winner vs. Villa
Winner vs. West Ham
Equaliser vs. Arsenal
Winner vs. West Ham
Equaliser vs. Arsenal
Winner vs. Brighton
Winner vs. Watford
Jordan Ayew, scorer of big goals.#CPFC pic.twitter.com/qAampXsDJ0
But Ayew isn’t the only one who has taken Palace to their greatest points total at this stage of a Premier League season, with players across the pitch coming in for praise from fans and Roy Hodgson alike.
In the Man of the Match vote after Watford, six players shared 90% of the fans’ selections, with Christian Benteke, James McCarthy and Cheikhou Kouyate standing out. Palace’s backline combination of Gary Cahill and Scott Dann have also drawn attention for their steadfast, triple clean sheet-earning display.
Another Palace 1-0 win will be firmly in the memory for south Londoners this weekend, with the Eagles’ last game against Bournemouth turning out a tight victory for Palace thanks to Jeffrey Schlupp’s storming winner.
Palace were reduced to 10-men in the 19th minute when Mamadou Sakho was sent off against the Cherries, but Roy Hodgson’s men held on for over 70 minutes to secure three points. In addition, the game prior to that was another memorable one, when Palace ran-out 5-3 victors over Eddie Howe’s men in SE25.
That eight-goal thriller also saw the 2019/20 kit debut on the final day of the 18/19 season and club legends Julian Speroni and Jason Puncheon bid farewell.
Bournemouth’s stats haven't made happy reading for their fans this season, potentially setting Palace up for a third straight victory over the Cherries.
Before the pause, Bournemouth were averaging their lowest average possession (44.3%), lowest passing accuracy (75.9%), lowest shots on target per game (3.4) and highest shots on target faced per game (5.3) from any of their five Premier League campaigns.
In fact, no side has kept fewer clean sheets in the top flight this season than Bournemouth (four). The Cherries have conceded at least once in each of their last 12 Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition.
However, with over 100 days between now and their last clash, Eddie Howe's men may have transformed their fortunes. Palace, naturally, will have to be on high alert.
Did you know?
Patrick van Aanholt has scored more Premier League goals against Bournemouth than he has against any other side (three). The Dutchman netted home and away against them for the Eagles last season.
Judging by pre-suspension form, the danger-man facing Palace on the south coast will be Callum Wilson who, after a run of 15 Premier League games without a goal, scored three in his last six.
Bournemouth often line-up in formations which support Wilson up-front, playing in a 4-3-3 with the England forward in the centre of the attacking trident or, if they opt for a more defensive shape, the Cherries typically field Wilson as a lone striker at the head of a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1.
Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Jeffrey Schlupp, James Tomkins and Martin Kelly are unavailable due to injury.
Bournemouth are without Ryan Fraser, whose contract ends this month, but David Brooks could play for the first time this season after suffering multiple injuries.
For more news on squad fitness, click here now.
Check out the first-team in training in our gallery here and watch how the lads have prepared with exclusive aerial training footage below.
Alternatively, brush up on your Bournemouth knowledge with these top Premier League facts!
We've also got everything you need to know about the restart - including player previews, quotes from Hodgson and information on behind closed doors clashes.
How to follow
This game will be the first Premier League clash aired live on the BBC. You can watch it on BBC One.
Palace supporters all over the world can listen to live audio commentary of every Palace fixture in the 2019/20 season for as little as £1 per game on the official club app, mobile internet or on desktop.
Fans can buy a Monthly Pass (which auto-renews) at £4.49 per month or a 24-Hour Pass (for a single matchday) for £1.49, by clicking here.
You can check out our Instagram story for all of the pre-match build-up and our official Twitter page is bringing you up-to-the-minute match updates, stunning photos and more.
Our club website, cpfc.co.uk, is the place to go for team news on the dot, an instant report and all the post-match votes.
The official app
The official Palace app’s match centre is the place to be for everything you need during the Bournemouth clash. With live stats and alerts, a running match commentary feed and lineups the moment they’re released as well as all an instant match report and post-match reaction from Palace TV, there’s no need to leave the app to follow the Eagles’ efforts.
For fans following from abroad, have a look at our Worldwide TV Listings here.