Norwich v Palace: preview

Patrick Bamford, Alan Pardew for England and dreaming of Europe: Dan Brigham exchanges emails with Palace fan and Mirror.co.uk deputy sports editor Ed Malyon to discuss the season’s opening match

Dan: Hi Ed. Thanks for joining me for the Norwich v Palace preview. Everyone connected to Palace – from fans to season previews – seem worryingly optimistic about the season. It sort of reminds me of Norwich ahead of their third Premier League season in 2013-14 after we'd signed Wolfswinkel, Fer and Olsson. We were, of course, relegated.

But you must be pleased with your pre-season signings? Yohan Cabaye, especially, and Patrick Bamford and Bakary Sako appear to be excellent additions. Connor Wickham a bit of a surprise though...

Ed: Yeah I think nobody would or could have predicted signing a player of Yohan Cabaye's quality, and even when the deal was close I was still convinced someone would come along with a better offer and we'd be stuck with Lewis McGugan or something. 

That said, there's no underestimating the ambition of Steve Parish. He has repeatedly said that he wants to change the mindset of Palace fans from our fatalist, pessimistic nature to understanding that we have a financially-sound, mid-table Premier League club but we are so used to darting between oblivion and ecstasy that it is taking some getting used to. 

Pards still needs a central defender but the other signings are all good, for me. Saki provides depth in wide areas – where we are already pretty good – while Bamford has promise. I'm not sure how keen I am on developing other club's youngsters with no prospect of buying them afterwards but if you consider that we missed out on our top striking targets, he is effectively a placeholder until next summer when we can work again on getting a top centre-forward. 

People seem to not be keen on Wickham but he's 22, has huge upside if he's coached right (he needs to learn how to use his impressive physical gifts better) and if he’s played in his favoured position then I think he could be a real player. Regrettably you don't get too much for £6million when you're a) a Premier League club, and b) buying a young English player from another Prem club. 

Norwich, I fear, will be relegated. The squad, to me at least, looks like good Championship players, not Premier League ones

Dan: Good point about Bamford. Doing the development work of another club is galling, but perhaps Pardew sees him as a long-term investment if he doesn't make the grade at Chelsea.

Talking of Pardew, enjoyed seeing him on Sky Sports News at his old school, pointing out the area "where all the girls hung around, watching the sexy boys like me go past". Were you a fan of Sexy Pards’ appointment, and how far do you think he can take Palace this season?

Ed: I think he was such an upgrade on Neil Warnock, for a start. He was also, as with Cabaye, better than we thought we could get. 

For the first time in years though there is expectation. People are predicting a top-half finish, which is bloody difficult, and even 12th or 13th could be seen as a disappointment. Cabaye talked about getting us into the top eight, which would almost certainly put Pards in the frame for the England job when it (possibly) comes available next summer. 

I've always dreamed of a European away game with Palace, and if Pardew ever brings me that then I will love him forever. 

Dan: Pardew for England. Goodness me. And on that chilling note, let's move on to the opening game.

Let's talk about Palace strengths and weaknesses. What can Norwich exploit and what should they be wary of? Seems you have plenty of strength in midfield and pace up front, although is there such thing as too much depth? Pardew might have a job keeping certain players happy. Also, as an outsider, I have doubts over your backline (although Scott Dann was a revelation) and goalkeeper.

Ed: I think the obvious weakness is the lack of a proven finisher, and despite their promise Wickham and Bamford aren't that – in the Premier League at least. 

Second for me would be central defence where Scott Dann needs a partner. Damien Delaney has done phenomenally well considering many were sceptical of him even in the Championship but an upgrade is needed sooner rather than later. 

Pape Souare was caught out a bit by the Premier a League after arriving from Lille in January, but his pre-season form suggests he has settled in and that left-back shouldn't be an issue any longer – well, that's the theory anyway. 

Dan: Norwich's back-line is a real worry, and unless we sign a quality centre-back I fear for us, not only against Palace but all season. Having said that, Seb Bassong had Bamford in his pocket in the play-off final, but he needs support.

So this is clearly too soon for this question, but with Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs in your first six games, do you need a good start against Norwich to stop some of the more fickle fans getting in a twist?

Ed: Every club has fickle fans who will get their knickers in a twist over little things. 

You're right that it's a tough start but Palace tend to play better against the big sides. We've not been smashed since coming up this time round and I feel like we will take points off those teams you mention – even if it would have been better to play them after Champions League trips. 

Even a couple of draws against those sides could see us bottom half going into October though, so there will be a need for patience. 

Dan: We have the opposite – we don't play anyone from the last year's top four in our first 10 games. So we'll be top by November or utterly screwed. 

So to finish off, three quick questions:

Where will Palace finish?

Where will Norwich finish?

Score prediction for Saturday?

Ed: Palace will finish 11th and sneak at 2-1 win (we are better away from home). 

Norwich, I fear, will be relegated. The squad, to me at least, looks like good Championship players, not Premier League ones. There's not been the influx of quality at Carrow Road that there has been at the other promoted sides, and if you don't get a striker soon then you could finish bottom. 

Cameron Jerome, as we had to endure for a season, simply isn't good enough. But he’s ex-Palace, so likely to score. 

Dan: Cheers Ed. We’ll leave it there. I’m going for 2-2. Two good midfields, two pretty poor defences. Should be fun.

You can follow Ed Malyon on twitter at @eaamalyon