Return Of Chamakh Provides More Options

After the convincing win over Newcastle United, you could be forgiven for thinking that Palace do not need any more options on the pitch.

However, the return of Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh from injury (how many times has this been said?) signals a vast improvement for the team.

Pardew switched the tactics on Saturday after the disappointing loss against Sunderland in the previous Premier League game. Palace fans saw the best from players such as Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham. Both have been inconsistent, or injury prone, and when they are not performing we lack different options to actually test the opposition, especially without Bakary Sako or Dwight Gayle to call upon.

This is where Chamakh can come in and make a difference. He offers a more constant pressing style than either Wickham or Puncheon which can put the opposition defenders and midfielders under pressure. Would the likes of Lee Cattermole seem quite as composed if Chamakh had been on the pitch on Monday night? Definitely not.

With Chamakh in the line up, it allows us to play more centrally instead of looking for the wingers at the first opportunity. The interplay between Yohan Cabaye and Chamakh was one of the main benefits I could think of when we made the stellar signing of the Frenchman in the summer, and as of yet, we have not seen this.

Although Pardew ensured that Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha were not doubled up on by Newcastle, the extra dimension  Chamakh can bring makes Palace an even more potent threat against stronger teams with more tactically aware managers. Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce had our game-plan all worked out and set our his team to stifle the flair players, especially with Puncheon not playing well as well as we have come to expect.

The former Bordeaux player can retain the ball for longer periods than Puncheon in more central areas, drawing defenders across to try and combat this, giving the wingers a chance to make runs beyond the defenders and generally creating more space.

As well as this, Chamakh poses an aerial threat and can provide a lot more flick ons than Puncheon. For all his physicality, Wickham can lack  presence in the air . Ultimately, Chamakh just gives Palace another way of playing.

Chamakh has come under fire from outsiders for his poor scoring record, and has sometimes been ridiculed by those less fortunate than Palace fans. Admittedly, his goals to game ratio is not great, and his hair is certainly ridiculous, but it has not been noted by a lot of football fans that since joining Palace the Moroccan has been dropped into the deeper role rather than being an out and out striker.

This does not necessarily excuse his shyness in front of goal, but in that role the main criteria is linking the attacking play, which he does so well. Besides, from what I have seen, he is not a bad finisher at all, he just sometimes lacks the confidence to shoot from twenty yards even with the space in front of him and has the old Arsenal curse of always looking to play the extra pass. Shooting seems like a last resort, and whilst sometimes it can produce intricate pieces of play around the box, it can also be frustrating and it is my main criticism of him.

Nonetheless, in terms of quality on the ball, Chamakh is undoubtedly one of the best players at the club, just behind Yohan Cabaye in my opinion. He has made more appearances for the Eagles than he did for Arsenal and although he is not a guaranteed starter with his dodgy hamstrings and the competition from Puncheon, he gives us a different option in the build up to games and keeps the opposition guessing.

I expect we will see him given more of a prominent role against Everton this coming Monday with Zaha suspended, and it will almost seem like a new signing. Hopefully he can prove me right and put in a star performance to give us our third win in a row at Goodison Park.




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