Three questions facing Crystal Palace as the Premier League returns
Nick Murphy | 10 September 2018
Will the Eagles soar or fall this season?
The Premier League returns in earnest later this week, with seven fixtures to whet the appetite on Saturday afternoon. One of those matches sees Crystal Palace take on Huddersfield Town.
The Eagles are 6/4 to register their second win of the season. But what problems are facing the South Londoners going forward? The Coral News Team take a look.
Will Wan-Bissaka get the help to develop?
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is every Fantasy Football player’s dream – a cheap defender who plays week-in-week-out. Not only that, but he’s actually shown himself to be quite good.
However, the 20-year-old prodigy still has a lot to learn. In his four games so far this season, the Croydon-born star has made two costly mistakes.
He was sent off against Liverpool on the opening day for hauling down Mohamed Salah. Then against Southampton last time out, his handball gave away a penalty which was subsequently missed by Danny Ings.
Such errors are to be expected from a defender who only recently reached double-figures in terms of senior club appearances. The experience of Mamadou Sakho and Martin Kelly alongside will be crucial to his continued development in South London.
Can Benteke find his form?
Christian Benteke was brought in as the solution to Crystal Palace’s goalscoring problems. The Eagles had found the back of the net just 39 times in the season prior to the Belgian’s arrival.
His signing proved an instant hit, and in his first season with the South Londoners, Benteke chalked up a decent enough return of 16 goals from his opening 35 matches.
Since then, however, the 28-year-old has been plagued with confidence issues in front of goal. His last 39 appearances for the club have produced just four goals since a league double against Liverpool at Anfield in April 2017.
So far this season, he’s mustered just 13 shots, with a shooting accuracy of 38%. Last season he recorded 60 shots in 31 matches at an accuracy rate of 35%. Can Roy Hodgson keep persisting with the under-fire forward? Or is it finally time to ditch the ex-Aston Villa man once and for all?
If not Zaha, then who else?
Benteke’s lack of potency up-top creates issues for Palace further back. Their overreliance on the talents of Wilfried Zaha has become a major issue. Take out the eight goals the Eagles scored from penalties last season and Zaha is responsible for 27.5% of their last 40 goals scored.
James McArthur and Patrick van Aanholt are the next highest scorers, excluding penalty takers, with five apiece in the league. Benteke on three goals was the only out-and-out forward to score more than once last season.
That shows the scale of the problem Hodgson is facing going forward. What is even more worrying is their Premier League record without the talisman. In the 10 matches Zaha has missed since the start of last season, Palace have failed to collect a single point.
Hodgson needs to find a way of playing without his star man. Otherwise the Selhurst Park club are in danger of becoming far too one-dimensional.
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