Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew must have breathed a sigh of relief at the weekend. A 3-0 win over Southampton in the Premier League snapped a streak of six successive defeats, and pushed the Eagles back up to 14th. Yet with just six wins this calendar year are Palace the best bets for more pain this winter?
Crystal Palace Tips for the Drop?
The Palace manager has been under a ton of pressure, admitting sleepless nights as he looked to turn things around. Publicly, the South London team’s board have been behind Pardew. However, having suffered so many defeats on the spin Pardew was open enough to admit that things were on edge saying
“We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don’t know a lot about football, so the Chairman has been defending me this week.”
Statistics widely shared on the internet prior to the Southampton game showed that Palace had the worst record of all 92 professional clubs in England over 2016. Their 5-4 loss to Swansea showcased everything that was wrong with the team. Poor defensively, despite fighting back from 1-3 down to 4-3 Palace couldn’t hold on in injury time and conceded two poor injury-time goals.
The players knew that they had let the team down and an inquest was called. A “frank exchange of views” took place – with Pardew not present. The players trained hard all week, and turned in a great performance at home to comprehensively beat Southampton. Is this the start of a new beginning for Pardew’s side?
Defence best bets for improvement?
The experienced Damien Delaney was recalled to the team at the expense of Martin Kelly in defence while Joe Ledley bulked up the midfield. The defensive reshuffle worked; a tired-looking Southampton couldn’t test Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal despite having lots of possession in the second half. It was Palace’s first clean sheet in the Premier League this season having conceded 17 goals in their previous five games.
At 35, Delaney is no spring chicken and as Pardew himself admitted, the Welshman isn’t the most skilful of players. However, at this moment in time Palace evidently needed a bit of nous and experience at the back to shore up a leaky defence. There are goals in the team – Townsend, Zaha and Benteke are all good attacking players at this level. A firmer base to build upon was always going to give more positive results.
The question is if Palace are worth backing to win again next week. Palace next face a trip to Hull, who are in relegation trouble themselves. While it’s too early to be labelled a six-pointer, a win against the Tigers would definitely further ease the pressure Pardew faces – not only from the board but also from the fans. Palace’s two previous away wins this campaign have come against Middlesbrough and Sunderland so the north east could well be a happy hunting ground for them again.
Are Palace your tip for relegation? Or can they start stringing wins together now the corner has been turned. Post your football tips at ProTipster.com and let us know.