This week's View From The Town End comes courtesy of Crystal Palace fan Jay who writes for The Eagles Beak.
How would you sum up your season so far?
A season of two halves? Will that do? Oh, okay then ... I will elaborate a little more for you! We had an absolutely fantastic start to the season, everything was smelling of roses, we were in and around the top four, seeing out the year with an excellent points tally. Since then, we have not see a win in the Premier League and we really do not know what has hit us. In truth, I have not known a season quite like it injury wise, we have been decimated at times to a point that has proved our squad was not as strong as we suspected. Add to that a mix of players losing form and some mistakes and bad luck and you have Palace in 2016 so far. We cannot buy a win at the moment and as you may have seen against Liverpool, we look like a side lacking in confidence and not knowing how to win games.
One saving grace is that we have saved our form for the FA Cup. It would have taken the pressure off a little to get something before our trip to play you guys but so be it. For the first time this season we are starting to look over our shoulders which is an odd concept as this is the first season we have not really needed to, until now. I think, we will be okay, won't we?
It's been a remarkable rise for Palace over the past four or five years, do you feel the club's in a position to establish itself as a Premier League club long-term?
It has been absolutely fantastic. Everyone knows our story so I will not harp on about it but the biggest thing is managing three seasons in the Premier League. We have not managed that before so we are somewhere we have not been before. It is sometimes a more dangerous place to be striving to achieve better, just look at us this season, exactly that and we look like going closer than we expected to be in the mix at the wrong end of the table. It really is fine lines but I am hoping we can learn from this season and be stronger in our fourth season in the top flight.
Alex McCarthy was well loved by Reading fans but has struggled to nail down a spot in the Palace goal, what's gone wrong for him at Selhurst Park?
He is Alan Pardew's signing and he always said from the outset that he wanted three top keepers at the club after being caught out at Newcastle. McCarthy started the season but he did make a few mistakes and then a mixture of missing out through injury and being dropped (still not to sure which one it was!) and Wayne Hennessey took his place. The position has been our Achilles heel this season as he also made arguably some higher profile mistakes (Villa to name one) but he also won us some points. His injury last week let McCarthy back in and I really feel he is our keeper for the future but he was so unlucky with the slip against Liverpool. It is just the kind of thing that is happening with us at the moment. The slip let in Liverpool to equalise and having confidence made of glass at the moment, it was shattered and visibly so. I am a firm believer that you learn more by mistakes and while the slip was not a mistake as such, Alex may do something differently to avoid it happening again. He is still my choice.
What are your general thoughts towards Reading as a club?
I have always looked out for Reading results and have been to see a few games (courtesy of my better half working for Waitrose!). A likable club that have always been on the fringes, pretty much like us really. Interesting to watch from afar the last few seasons and really though Steve Clarke would be the man for you. Sensible idea to bring back McDermott seeing as he knows the club well. Will watch with interest how he does with you in the future.
Who do you think will give Reading the biggest problems on Friday night?
If we start with our wide men Yannick Bolasie and WIlfried Zaha then I expect them both to give your full backs a torrid time.
Any Reading player you're worried about coming up against?
After his brace against Fulham, I will have to say Hal Robson-Kanu. Any striker in form is dangerous. I also like what midfielder Oliver Norwood gives you and expect we will need to stop him playing in the middle of the park.
I will not be alone in thinking that this is a big game for Palace and Pardew, not least returning to one of his former clubs, but a loss will heap plenty of pressure on him. A win will hopefully give us the kick we need so I am plumping for a narrow 2-1 win to the Eagles but it will not be easy. It would not surprise me seeing it go to a replay in fact.
Thanks again to Jay and you can follow The Eagles Beak on Twitter @TheEaglesBeak