It’s imperative to any side fighting relegation to have players who can score goals and win matches, especially against teams around them. In recent weeks, Cameron Jerome and Marouane Chamakh appear to have struck up a decent understanding which has led to three wins from their last four for Palace. Their form could be down to the new manager bounce with Tony Pulis coming in, but if they keep it up, the newly promoted team have a really good chance of staying up. Both of these have never been seen as Premier League quality strikers in their spells at other clubs, with Chamakh being somewhat of a joke during his spell at Arsenal, but it appears that they have finally found a place that they feel comfortable in and play their best football. A lot of the credit for their emerging strike partnership has to go to Pulis who has been bold in playing two strikers.
Chamakh has scored three goals so far, two of which have come in his last two matches, contributing to six points for Palace. Whereas Jerome has only got one goal so far. Although their goal tallies aren’t that impressive at the moment, they will both benefit from Pulis’ tactics as shown by their recent performances. Both create chances for their team-mates, Jerome has created 10 chances (creates one every 52 minutes). The on loan Stoke striker has one assist which led to the winning goal against Hull. His strike partner has created 17 chances (creates one every 62 minutes). Chamakh struggled earlier in the season as he just wasn’t getting the chances, he has only taken six shots. His shooting accuracy (67%) and chance conversion (50%) both show that he will score goals if he gets the chances. Now he has a strike partner in Jerome, the team should be more of a threat in the final third and chances will come his way, as showed since Pulis has taken charge.
Palace’s rivals at the bottom have all failed to find the right combination up front. Sunderland’s current pair Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore have three goals between them which is less than the combined total of the Palace strike force. Also the Sunderland strikers have created less chance chances as they have only created a joint amount of 14 chances. Meanwhile, Fulham’s main two strikers Darren Bent and Dimitar Berbatov have also scored 4 goals combined, but they haven’t created as many chances as the Eagles pair. Between them, they have created 18 chances. West Ham have obviously been without their main striker in Andy Carroll, but back up strikers Modibo Maiga and Carlton Cole have only scored one goal combined. While they have jointly created seven chances, which is less than all the strike-forces at the bottom of the table, but the pair have played a lot less football than the other strike partnerships. The Cardiff strikers Peter Odemwingie and Fraizer Campbell have also got 4 goals as a pair, but they have created fewer chances than the Palace duo with 17 between them.
It appears that Palace have the best strike force in the bottom five when it comes to scoring goals and creating chances which will a shock to many, but it just shows that Pulis was the right man for the job. He changed to a more direct approach with two big strikers and it is paying off as they are now close to moving out of the bottom three. It was only two weeks ago that many observers were saying the Eagles were definitely going down as their squad wasn’t strong enough, but after 9 points from a possible 12, the team have started to show that they can compete at the highest level. They will need to keep picking up points over the next few months as the new manager bounce fades, but Pulis knows how to organise a side in this league and he knows what it takes to get to 40 points.
It’s still very early days in the Jerome and Chamakh partnership, but I believe they will fire Crystal Palace to safety as they have shown in recent weeks that they can both play to a high standard in the Premier League. That is something they have failed to show in the past. As a pair, they bring the best out of each other as they are both hard workers who put themselves about in the final third. Jerome offers a threat with his direct running and creativity, he will never be a regular goalscorer but he will cause a lot of problems when he runs with the ball. Chamakh gives Palace a target up front with his aerial presence. His goal against Cardiff showed his brilliant movement and ability to finish. Pulis may opt to bring in a striker in January to give the pair genuine competition, but he has laid the foundations for the unfancied duo to do the impossible and secure Crystal Palace’s Premier League status.