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Player of the Year - The Contenders

9 May 2016


On Thursday night one member of the Palace squad will add their name to the illustrious list of club legends who have got their hands on the Player of the Year trophy.

Six men have been shortlisted for the award, which for the first time is voted for online by season ticket holders and members. - VOTE HERE

Take a look below at the candidates who will be hoping to walk off with the trophy.

YANNICK BOLASIE

It is a testament to how good the DR Congo man has been this season that he has been nominated despite missing two months of the campaign through injury.

His first major involvement of 2015/16 was to set up Bakary Sako’s opener as the Eagles went on to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and then he would get off the mark himself by scoring a rare header against West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park at the start of October.

This season has seen the winger thrive on big occasions, and he would fire home against Liverpool during another famous win for Alan Pardew’s side on the road, before hitting a brace in the 5-1 demolition against Newcastle United –the Eagles’ biggest ever victory in the Premier League.

However a hip injury sustained in the final moments of the win at Stoke City saw him sit out the next two months, including the important festive period, but he made his long-awaited comeback by coming off the bench to help his side edge past Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup fifth round.

He was soon back in the starting line-up and would win the penalty that eventually helped to see off Reading in the next round of the competition, before earning Palace’s first ever point at the Emirates Stadium with a long-range effort against Arsenal last month.

But his highlight of the season was still to come, as he finally got the chance to play at Wembley after missing the 2013 Championship play-off final and graced the occasion with an early opening goal against Watford to help clinch a place in the FA Cup final next week.

YOHAN CABAYE

It has been a superb first season in SE25 for the club record signing, who looks set to have a busy summer on his hands with Euro 2016 taking place in his homeland.

The Frenchman arrived in south London last July from Paris St Germain to much fanfare and immediately began paying back his sizeable transfer fee when he gave the Eagles fans what they had craved on the opening day against Norwich City by scoring a late third goal as his new side ran out 3-1 victors.

He was instrumental in helping Palace keep up with the league leaders the early months of the campaign and would find the net in three successive games between September and October as Watford, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United all conceded penalties that allowed Cabaye to tuck the ball home from 12 yards.

More crucial strikes would follow as he tapped home from close range against Southampton to get the festive period off to a fine start, and then he scored the goal that broke Reading’s resistance in the FA Cup quarter-final at the Madejski Stadium, holding his nerve to once again register a spot-kick in the 86th minute.

His tough-tackling combined with his elegant passing of the ball has seen him mix craft with graft in the middle of the park throughout the season, and he has effortlessly struck up understandings with both James McArthur and Mile Jedinak in the defensive midfield areas.

SCOTT DANN

Having been a constant menace for the opposition in both boxes this season, the reigning Player of the Year will be looking to try and retain his crown.

Dann has played more minutes in the league than any other member of the side, having missed just two games and not being substituted during the others. He has also skippered the side on occasion, sharing the armband with Damien Delaney when Mile Jedinak has been absent.

His all-action displays were typified early in the season when he celebrated signing a new five-year deal with the Eagles in the summer by scoring a bullet header against Aston Villa before then laying on the assist for Bakary Sako’s late winner back in August as Palace claimed a 2-1 win, and he captained the club for the first time this season in a first v second showdown with Manchester City in September.

The Merseysider would then go on to enjoy two trips back to his hometown within the space of a month by scoring a late winner against his boyhood heroes Liverpool in another 2-1 success at Anfield, and also notched for the second time in three seasons against Everton in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

His prowess from set-pieces continued and he would score in back-to-back games against Bournemouth and Swansea City in February, and has been involved in all-but-one of his side’s clean sheets this season.

Matching his league consistency, the 29-year-old has also played in every minute of the Eagles’ FA Cup run, which could see him get his hands on some more silverware to go alongside last year’s Player of the Year trophy.

JAMES MCARTHUR

Despite missing the majority of the end of the season with an ankle injury, the Scottish midfielder is in contention for this year’s top prize for his earlier energetic displays.

With competition for places fierce in the centre of the park following the arrival of Yohan Cabaye from Paris St Germain, McArthur was given the nod to start alongside the Frenchman in the opening day victory against Norwich City, and the duo quickly forged a strong understanding as the Eagles soared up the table in the early weeks, with McArthur laying on two assists in the opening two games.

Another superb performance in the win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge saw him solidify his spot in the line-up, with the highlight of his first part of the campaign coming when he scored a first ever career brace in the 5-1 demolition against Newcastle United – his incredible stamina shown by racing upfield whilst limping to the fire home the fifth goal in injury-time.

Following that two-goal haul, Alan Pardew opted to push him further forward as injuries bit and he showcased his versatility by playing behind the main striker a couple of times, including the 2-1 success at Stoke City in December.

However in February he suffered the ankle problem and was forced to spend the next two months on the sidelines, unable to help his team rectify their league slump, however having returned to action against Manchester United in April as a late substitute, he was able to reprise the role at Wembley as he continued his comeback by helping his side over the line against Watford, playing the final 24 minutes.

CONNOR WICKHAM

The final few months of this season has seen the summer arrival really begin to find his feet at Selhurst Park, and culminated him netting the goal that sent the Eagles to their first FA Cup final in 26 years.

Bought from Sunderland last July to add firepower to the Eagles attack, the early months of the campaign were frustrating ones for the 23-year-old who picked up a calf injury in only his third game, and after returning to the first-team fold and putting in some unselfish displays up front on his own, he got off the mark by lashing home from the penalty spot in the 2-1 win against Stoke City in December.

However injury struck again ensuring he missed a few more games, but when back up and running again he finally began to show why Alan Pardew had put his faith in him. A superb assist for Emmanuel Adebayor’s maiden Eagles goal against Watford was soon followed by a fine brace of goals at West Bromwich Albion in February as he threatened to single-handedly turn around a three goal deficit.

Then four days later he came back to haunt the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light as he blasted home another two goals in fine style to continue his purple patch. Filled with confidence and beginning to reach 100% fitness, he saved his best goal for the biggest occasion of the season.

With the game poised at 1-1 going into the final half an hour at Wembley, he leapt higher than the Watford defence to head home Pape Souare’s cross to score the winning goal and clinch a 2-1 win in the semi-final to set up next week’s 1990 rematch against Manchester United.

WILFRIED ZAHA

Once again a series of electrifying displays on the right flank for the Eagles has seen the academy graduate nominated for the award, which he is looking to win for the first time.

A high level of consistent displays has ensured Zaha remained a regular in the team despite the recent arrivals of Chung-yong Lee and Bakary Sako, but even with competition for a wide midfield berth as intense as ever going into the 2015/16 campaign, the Croydon native had missed just two matches in all competitions.

Things started well for Zaha when he scored Palace’s first goal of the season in acrobatic style against Norwich City on the opening day, and his quick feet and dazzling skills were soon being put to good use on a regular basis, and in late September he repeated his 2013 Championship play-off heroics to win a penalty against Watford which Yohan Cabaye converted to give the Eagles a big early season win.

After also scoring in the 5-1 romp against Newcastle United in November, Zaha helped pave the way for the Eagles’ run to the FA Cup final by netting winning goals against Southampton and Stoke City in the early rounds, and has played every minute available in the competition so far, leading him to a final appearance against his former club Manchester United at Wembley next week.

He has also been a frequent provider of goals for Alan Pardew’s men, and has easily surpassed his previous best of three Premier League assists which came last season. January also brought up another big milestone for the 23-year-old when he played in his 200th game for the club during his two spells with the Eagles.

To vote for your favourite, please click here.

Don't forget that tickets are still available for the event which takes place at the Odeon at Leicester Square on Thursday, starting at 7pm. To buy yours, please click here.

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