When you look at the current Crystal Palace squad you get the feeling that they’re just too good to go down but in the past we’ve said the same things about Leeds United, Aston Villa and Newcastle United only to see them all fall through the trap-door and into the Championship.
On paper the squad might look decent enough but it’s all about the side’s performances on the park and let’s face it they’ve not been good enough this season. That point was hammered home as fellow strugglers Sunderland thumped the Eagles 4-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Palace are now lying in nineteenth place, with only a better goal difference keeping them above Sunderland.
The appointment of Sam Allardyce on the twenty-third of December was meant to give the club a boost and see them move away from the relegation zone. Big money was spent both in the summer and again during January with the objective of getting better results. But alas neither tonic has worked at the moment, with Big Sam only overseeing one victory in his first seven Premier League games in charge.
After the defeat to the Black Cats, in which winter transfer target Jermain Defoe scored twice, Allardyce would tell the BBC:
“Fear gripped the players and it hasn’t allowed them to express their ability. I cant think it can be anything other than that.”
Now Sam is used to a dogfight and he’s used to surviving that particular fight and staying in the top flight. But at the moment it seems as if he’s struggling to put his finger on the problem or resolving the deep-rooted issues that have seen Palace go from FA Cup finalists to relegation candidates in the space of half a season.
The fans vented their fury on Saturday, chairman Steve Parish supposedly tore a strip off the team in the dressing room and the manager then called them into training at 7am on Sunday.
Now these are all understandable reactions but it may be too much for a squad that’s obviously very fragile at the moment.
A major problem for Palace is that when they concede first, then the defence totally collapses. You’d like to think with experienced pros like Damien Delaney, James tompkins and Scott Dann in there then that wouldn’t happen but it quite obviously does and it happens too often this term.
The quicker they can get new signing Mamadou Sakho match fit and integrated into the first team the better. The French defender is a warrior and can improve things at the back as long as he’s in the right frame of mind. Big Sam has to tell him that he’s the player that can make a real difference.
I also think Allardyce would want to get Steve Mandanda back in goals as soon as possible.
Going forward they aren’t bad.
Christian Benteke has nine Premier League goals, which isn’t bad but you’d expect more if he was given better ammunition.
For me on the assists column, only Wilfried Zaha gets pass marks with his six assists so far this season. Palace certainly missed Zaha when he was away for the African Cup of Nations.
I’ve always said that Andros Townsend doesn’t create enough chances for a international winger. To spend £13m on him, you’d have expected a better return than one goal and two assists. But he’s never been one to regularly provide assists and he needs to do more in the second half of the season.
Townsend was meant to replace Yannick Bolasie but it’s not happened. Bolasie (before his longterm injury) had already created twice the amount of assists Andros has this term.
I also have to dig out Yohan Cabaye.
The Frenchman made a name for himself in Ligue 1 and the Premier League for his goals, runs and assists. Now yes he’s playing more as a holding midfielder in this set-up but he’s still takes a fair amount of set-pieces and he still has the vision and ability to make a key pass. Now surely he’d be a player that could hit pin-point balls to Benteke and give the big striker more chances to score from? The fact that the French international has only one goal and zero assists shows he’s not having as much of an impact as he really should.
Allardyce will be hoping that the return of Loic Remy from injury can add more goals to the team but again he’ll need the others around him to create more!
Sam Allardyce will be desperate to show that he’s still got the Midas Touch when it comes to avoiding relegation from England’s top flight. He knows everyone and their granny will be quick off the mark to say he’s lost his groove after losing the England job in such circumstances back in September of last year, after just months in the role.
But he needs to address his sides poor home form, which is by far and away the worst in the Premier League. They’ve only picked up seven points out of a possible thirty-six. As well as losing to Sunderland at Selhurst Park, they’ve also lost to Swansea City at home in recent weeks.
It’s as if Sam himself looked at the Crystal Palace pool of players and thought this was going to be an easy turnaround. That bad luck or poor management was the blame for the slump. But now at the coalface he has seen that the players seem frightened of their own shadows and don’t seem up for a fight!
At the moment other engulfed sides like Sunderland, Swansea and Hull City seem to have more belief about them and understand the positions that they’re in.
The fixture list doesn’t make for great reading for the Eagles either.
With fourteen games remaining they’ve still got to face all of the clubs that currently occupy the top seven places in the league. Those games are pretty spaced out, meaning it could be hard for Palace to get a good run of wins under their belt.
In May, out of their final three fixtures, they have to go to Manchester twice and face City and United. Those games might be huge for the Manchester sides as they could prove vital in their search of Champions League qualification!
So it’s certainly become a huge task for Sam Allardyce as he hopes to guide the Eagles away from the dreaded drop zone before the final whistle come the twenty-first of May. But he really has to wonder if the players currently at his disposal have the necessary qualities to claw their way out of trouble.
At the moment it’s very touch and go!
Posted on February 6th, 2017 by scott
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