Who Should Palace Target In January?
Overall, it has been a glum season for Palace, but luckily the decision to bring in Roy Hodgson has appeared to have improved the team.
After fifteen games, the Eagles stood eighteenth, just three points from safety with two wins, four draws, and nine losses.
Before the 2017/18 season began, people were looking at Palace as a mid-table team having made some top-class additions to their already rather talented squad. With the likes of Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha, and Andros Townsend gunning the attack, Yohan Cabaye creating from midfield, and Mamadou Sakho and Scott Dann at the back, Palace had the makings of a team hard to beat.
Now Roy Hodgson and his team are on the precipice of relegation, with an almost unconquerably negative goal difference and only eight goals scored through fifteen contests. But hope is on the horizon in the form of the January transfer window, which could just provide the signing or signings that pull the Eagles from the depths of the Premier League table and up to where they belong. Safety.
What Crystal Palace are lacking?
Not meaning to point out the obvious, but goal scoring is the major issue that needs to be addressed by Palace. For a while, the lack of goals could be blamed on starting striker, Benteke, being out injured. But since the big Belgian has been back, he has failed to score in four appearances as well as the six league appearances before his ligament injury. The goalless draw against West Bromwich Albion in particular showed how out of form Benteke is.
With only eight goals scored in fifteen games, the joint-lowest tally at the time of writing, there is no wonder why the Eagles are sitting so low in the table. Despite this, however, Palace are the fourth favourites to be relegated, with Premier League betting odds of 4/9 not to be relegated being shorter than that of Huddersfield Town (8/13), West Ham United (10/11), and Swansea City (5/2). This is because Hodgson’s teams know how to pick up points, as the win and three draws from the middle of November to the start of December suggests.
Regardless, the Eagles need to start picking up goals soon, so as not to rely on other teams’ inabilities to score against them and rather pull themselves out of their current predicament. Scoring goals and winning games build momentum, which is one of the most important factors in a relegation scrap.
Hodgson declared his intent to sign a forward back in October when he had to use wingers Townsend and Zaha as strikers, so, who should the former England boss target?
Potential Cures To Palace’s Striking Woes
While Palace have been known to splash out £30-odd million from time to time, mainly when they want a Liverpool player, forking out that kind of cash in a relegation battle is never advised unless it guarantees safety.
Looking domestically, there is a number of out of favour sharp-shooters who could be loaned to partner Christian Benteke in Hodgson’s favoured formation, which would allow Zaha and Townsend to use their keen playmaking skills on the wings again.
First off, Islam Slimani has struggled to fit into the Leicester City side since Claudio Ranieri was given the sack and Craig Shakespeare clearly did not want to try anything other than what worked for his predecessor. The Algerian is a monstrous striker, physical on the ball, in the air, and is a cold finisher.
Another option could be Danny Welbeck of Arsenal, who has been an emphatic scorer when given the chance, but he has not been able to break into the Arsenal starting line up due to injuries. He is now fit a raring to go but finds two Frenchmen in his way.
Looking abroad, however, might be the way forward for Palace to secure a long-term goal-scoring option. One such option could be one of Paraguay’s hottest prospects, Antonio Sanabria. Despite being just 21-years-old, Sanabria is very professional and knows exactly what he needs to do to improve, which includes leaving Barcelona to play first team football. With Real Betis this season, Sanabria has seven goals in twelve games and is developing into quite the clinical striker.
Staying in La Liga, Cedric Bakambu has had a couple of good seasons scoring for Villarreal, but he is really enjoying a breakout season this term. The 26-year-old DR Congo forward has ruthlessly nailed fourteen goals in nineteen games in all competitions.
If they can find a clinical striker in the January transfer window, or Benteke suddenly ignites, Palace would be a good bet to avoid relegation this season. They have all of the right pieces, they just need that final product to get them above that red line.