We bring you the latest views of Steve Parish from his column in tonight's match programme for the game against Arsenal.
I trust everyone here had an enjoyable Christmas and are looking forward to bringing in 2018, but today we welcome the players, staff and supporters of Arsenal to Selhurst Park.
It’s been a bit of an up and down year on the pitch, but off it the club continues to move forward, not just in the first-team area but also our under-23 and under-18 teams who are performing well.
Both top their respective leagues, so let’s hope they can keep that up going into the new year and beyond. We really are starting to get our academy right, and our increased support of the Ladies’ organisation is being repaid many times over by the consistent performances and hard work of everyone there.
The next month is going to be extremely busy, with not only the transfer window but also finalising of our planning application for the stadium improvements. It’s an exciting time to be involved with this club and I am really looking forward to making progress on all fronts next year.
Due to the Christmas schedule, I’m writing these notes ahead of the Swansea game, but whatever the result of that was, our recent form has seen a huge improvement which is a testament to the great work that is being put in at the training ground by Roy, his staff and the players. Going seven games unbeaten is no small achievement in this league, and we have created a great platform for the second half of the season.
The Leicester performance was really great to watch, and as always, our travelling support was magnificent. I’d like to highlight a couple of players; firstly Bakary Sako whose time here has been blighted by injuries but he’s never stopped smiling or working hard, and has responded particularly well to Roy’s coaching. Also Martin Kelly stepped in and gave us two great performances at both centre-back and right-back, illustrating what a squad game this is, none more so than over this packed Christmas period.
At Leicester, Julian Speroni played his 401st game for us and clocked up a record-equalling 111th clean sheet, which is a truly remarkable achievement. He is Palace throughand-through, and he should be extremely proudof his record and the high regard he is held by everyone at the club.
I’m sure everyone here tonight remembers our 3-0 win over Arsenal last season under the lights. It was quite a night given it was such a rare win over them, so let’s hope we can repeat or get close to that this evening.
There’s something very, very special about the atmosphere here for night matches, and with this one being at Christmas hopefully it will be that little bit more special.
Up the Palace!