Steve Parish has delivered his latest programme notes ahead of Sunday's game against Arsenal, discussing Palace's form, the opposition, the recovery of Connor Wickham and the Palace for Life Foundation's Marathon March.
Welcome to the players, staff and directors of Arsenal to south London this lunchtime, and as always I’d like to give a warm welcome back to Selhurst Park to each and every Palace fan.
Today’s guests are in fine form, winning 10 matches on the bounce ahead of their game against Sporting Lisbon in midweek. Unai Emery and his players are clearly doing a great job despite losing their first two games, but as always we are confident in our own ability to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the country.
Obviously we have had a disappointing run of results and are now entering a series of league fixtures that includes today’s London rivals, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, and we don’t need telling that we are desperate for some points and goals. These are always great occasions with a great atmosphere, and I know you will all get behind the boys as we try to get things back on track.
One of the positives to take from the late defeat at Everton was welcoming back Connor Wickham to first-team action since his dreadful injury sustained in November 2016. That is an extraordinary length of absence, and it has been a turbulent road back to action for him with a few false starts along the way. It is a testament to Connor as a man that he is now back in contention, and everyone involved with the club has their fingers crossed that he continues to build up his strength and match fitness to give Roy more options.
Away from first-team matters, I hope you will have seen the coverage of the Palace for Life Foundation’s Marathon March during the international break. More than 150 of us walked 26.2 miles from Selhurst Park through London to Trafalgar Square. Blessed with brilliant weather, it was heart-warming to walk with fans and several former players including Brighty, Andrew Johnson, Andy Gray, Sasa Curcic and Neil Shipperley to raise over £100,000 to help grow the charity’s fantastic work in our community.
A huge congratulations must go to all the walkers and I’d also like to thank the generous donors and Utilita for sponsoring the event. The only regret I have is that Brighty couldn’t keep up with my pace, so we finished an hour or so apart!
As it’s half-term, it was really important that we invested time and energy in putting on events for our younger fans. Our under-23s match at Selhurst Park on Monday was just £1 for kids to watch - something we will be doing more of throughout the season - and the Foundation put on coaching courses for hundreds of children and a special session for 60 Junior Members in Beckenham, who were surprised to meet several first-team players who joined in after training. We have even more planned for our Junior Members this Christmas – details will be released soon on cpfc.co.uk.
The world is watching today, so let’s show everyone what makes our club special both on and off the pitch, and make it a day to remember.
Up The Palace!