Currently sitting in 20th place, both winless, goalless, and pointless, is Crystal Palace. This position would not have been anticipated by most Palace fans and football pundits, after a decent summer transfer window bringing in the permanent transfer of Mamadou Sakho, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Jairo Riedewald. However, despite these additions, the Eagles have looked extremely poor under both Frank de Boer and new manager Roy Hodgson, collecting a series of unwanted records and not managing to score a single goal this entire campaign.
Having started the season with a new manager in Frank de Boer, Palace fans were expecting to see a much higher standard of football, with De Boer being known to play a good passing game, this was a big risk, with Palace having played long ball football for some seasons before. This risk, unfortunately, did not pay off, with them losing their first game, which was at Selhurst Park vs newly promoted Huddersfield, 3 goals to 0. After this shock result, Palace couldn’t pick up a single point with opposition including Liverpool, Swansea, Burnley and Southampton. Consequently, Frank de Boer’s reign was cut short and was released, making an opening for former England manager Roy Hodgson.
But why haven’t Crystal Palace managed to score a goal? With prolific goalscorer Christian Benteke leading the attack, you would think that they would not be facing such goal-scoring troubles, however, the Belgian has failed to score this season, mostly due to a lack of chances created by his teammates (although he’s missed a couple of big chances). This also may be due to the loss of key player Wilfried Zaha, who has been injured since the start of the season and Palace are beginning to show their complacency without him. One possible light in the dark so far would be the inspired performances of on-loan Chelsea attacking midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been working extremely hard in trying to spearhead the Crystal Palace attack, creating 4 big chances, making 107 passes and 2 successful crosses from CAM, and coming very close to goals. Former Newcastle man Andros Townsend has been quite positive too so far, making multiple attacking runs, crosses and shots and will only be a matter of time before he makes an impact.
Since the departure of de Boer and the introduction of experienced manager Roy Hodgson, the team have had to implement a whole new style of play again and to increase the difficulty even further, have had to face back-to-back Manchester games, losing 5-0 to City and 4-0 to United. Next up after the international break is yet again another challenge, facing Conte’s Chelsea. However with star man Morata out for the match Hodgson’s men may fancy themselves to pick up their first goal or even points of the campaign.
To ensure that they do not face a relegation scrap come the end of the season, Palace must start converting their chances, especially in winnable matches, in which so far they have thrown away precious points. They also cannot be so reliant on key man Christian Benteke every match, as it is becoming obvious that he is not capable of scoring without sufficient support from his teammates. Reliant captain Jason Puncheon will be looking to improve the overall squad moral more than anything, as 7 games and no goals is ultimately lowering the moral. Finding the first goal may prove to be vital and once put in the back of the net, Palace will be more confident going forward, attempting more risky passes and playing their natural game. Other struggling teams such as Bournemouth who lie 4 points ahead of Palace in 19th, will also be looking to improve their tally and if something isn’t changed at Selhurst Park sooner rather than later, and if they don’t find goalscoring form, they might find themselves playing championship football next season.