Crystal Palace’s greatest Premier League XI

Out of all the London clubs in the Premier League, few have enjoyed quite a rollercoaster ride like Crystal Palace. The Eagles were one of the original Premier League division sides but have bounced between the first and second divisions several times since 1992. However, the South London side have emerged into a regular presence in the top flight since their last promotion in 2013 even if they haven’t finished higher than tenth. But the club have overcome issues on and off the pitch to become Premier League mainstays – something that they haven’t enjoyed for this long in years gone by. But with that in mind – who makes Crystal Palace’s all-time Premier League XI?


GK: Nigel Martyn

It was with Palace in the early days of the Premier League that Nigel Martyn burst into the spotlight. Martyn’s consistent form and excellent coverage earned him a reputation as one of the best shot stoppers in England throughout the 1990s. This recognition came despite being a regular of a Palace side that got relegated twice from the Premier League in 1993 and 1995. However, Martyn would earn his first England caps due to his performances at Selhurst Park which was an achievement itself. His nomination in Palace’s centenary squad in 2005 underlined just how good he was when he starred in South London.


RB: Chris Coleman

It seemed as if versatility was Chris Coleman’s middle name. Despite naturally being a centre-back, Coleman’s ability on the ball meant he was perfectly comfortable as a full-back and even as an emergency striker. This meant that the Welshman was never far from the action. His no-nonsense approach earned him plenty of plaudits from all areas of the pitch and made him a natural leader in the squad. It was why he was named the club’s Player of the Year in 1994 and remained with the club for four years and two relegations before leaving for Blackburn in 1995.


LB: Patrick Van Aanholt

With a wicked left foot, Patrick Van Aanholt could be a real asset when charging down the left-hand side of the pitch. The Dutchman had the awareness and strength to flourish as a defender but also enjoyed the pace and skill to be a creative outlet when called upon. It means that Van Aanholt could also deliver set-pieces with dramatic effect and nick a few goals whenever the opportunity presented itself. This included netting 5 goals in the 2017/18 season and helping Palace avoid the drop that season. A star player no matter where he played.


CB: Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate might be known for his eventful England moments but he was also a quality defender when the opportunity presented itself. His excellent composure and passing game helped him control the tempo and help Palace overcome rivals in key matches to avoid the drop. It was why he was captain at Selhurst Park for much of the 1990s including for both of their first two Premier League seasons. Southgate departed Palace for Aston Villa in 1995 after The Eagles were relegated but still remains a popular figure at the club to this very day.


CB: Scott Dann

Scott Dann was a defender made to shine for the smaller teams. Having impressed with both Blackburn and Birmingham, Dann’s overall skillset was seen during a 7-year spell with The Eagles. Dann’s strength and aerial presence made him an expert at neutralizing attacks at their most critical point as well as threatening from set pieces. Dann’s overall understanding of the game helped him captain the side for several seasons helping the side fight for mid-table honours for several seasons. It’s why those efforts saw him named Palace Player of the Year in 2015 – a season where they enjoyed a record finish of 10th. An excellent effort from a player who doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves.


CM: Luka Milivojevic

After honing his skills in Belgium and Greece, it’s fair to say that Luka Milivojevic has surpassed all expectations within English football. The Serbian midfielder has showcased his technical prowess on all levels with excellent passing stats and being deadly accurate from set-pieces. His free kicks were a key weapon for Palace for much of the mid-late 2010s where he comfortably notched double figure goal tallies in his first two seasons. A best of 12 goals in the 2018-19 season underlined just how crucial he has been to the squad since joining from Olympiakos in 2016.


CM: John Salako

In his prime, John Salako was a real livewire in the heart of the Crystal Palace midfield. Playing as either an attacking midfielder or a winger, Salako used his pace and skill on the ball to carve up openings game after game. It was this ability that earned him multiple England appearances in the early 1990s in a Palace attack that could break with devastating effect. Injuries did hamper some of Salako’s prime years at Selhurst Park but he remains a crowd favourite to this day underlined by his inclusion in Palace’s Centenary XI in 2005.


CM: James McArthur

Even if James McArthur may not be a headline name, you can’t fault his consistent. The Scottish midfielder has shone for Palace ever since they were promoted in 2013 and has not looked back. With excellent passing, crossing and set-piece abilities, there is very little he can’t do in the middle of the park. It’s this skillset that has enabled McArthur to deliver with minimal fuss for the best part of a decade and not wilter in the pressure cooker that is the Premier League.


FW: Chris Armstrong

Often overlooked to many of his contemporaries, Chris Armstrong was one of England’s best strikers of the mid-1990s. Armstrong’s strength and powerful shots made him a nightmare for keepers to deal with. It was Armstrong who filled the void left by Ian Wright’s and Mark Bright’s departures in 1992 as Palace tried to avoid relegation. Despite scoring 15 goals in the 1992/93 season, Palace were relegated. Armstrong’s goalscoring prowess emerged again in the 1994/95 season even though The Eagles were relegated once again. Armstrong would leave in 1995 to join Tottenham but fans in South London still remember his workrate that impressed so many in the early days of the Premier League era.


FW: Andy Johnson

There have been few better natural finishers for Crystal Palace than Andy Johnson. With deceptive pace and lethal finishing, Johnson was the toast of the town during Palace’s ill-fated 2004-05 Premier League campaign. Having scored 27 goals in the 2003/04 to earn the club promotion, Johnson would repeat a similar feat in the following season – scoring 21 goals in 37 games. This form earnt him both the October 2004 Premier League Player of the Month Award as well as a spot in the 2004-05 Premier League team of the season. It still wasn’t enough to stop The Eagles being relegated but it showcased that Johnson was capable of performing at the highest level possible.


FW: Wilfried Zaha

No player has been a bigger superstar at Selhurst Park in recent years than Wilfried Zaha. The flamboyant winger has rose through Crystal Palace’s academy to become their modern-day celebrity. Zaha’s pace and skillset is up there with the best in Europe and he has improved his finishing to match the best in the league. Zaha has spent almost his entire career with Palace and this passion for the club has resonated in those performances. This has included a run of 3 Player of the Year awards for Palace as well as the Premier League Player of the Month award in April 2018. Zaha’s 14-goal haul in the 2021/22 season means that the Ivorian’s 61 goals is a club record goal tally in the top flight. It underlines why many consider Zaha to be one of Palace’s best players to ever lace up a pair of boots at Selhurst Park.

Author: Tamara Kim