Forget Brexit, Palace Have A Striker Crisis
We have seen it before and we will see it again, and no, I am not talking about Brexit!
Palace are suffering a real crisis of confidence with the front men this season and if it was not for goals from Wilfried Zaha and Luka Milivojevic, the current league position would be far worse.
It seems the Eagles have a real love hate relationship with the striker position, there is either a player that has excelled and regularly finds the net or there is one that struggles for form and the net. There have also been those that have split opinion right down the middle but right now, there is very little for Roy Hodgson or us fans to go on.
Ian Wright, Mark Bright, Dougie Freedman, Chris Armstrong, Matt Jansen, Clinton Morrison and Andy Johnson are just a list of strikers that the club have been blessed with over the years. Strikers that could, for the most part, be relied upon to get a goal or two. Oh, how we could do with a reincarnation of one of those names.
The current crop reminds us of the struggles faced by players that have not had the same impact such as Marco Gabbiadini, Calvin Andrew, Aaron Wilbraham, Jermaine Easter and Ade Akinbiyi.
We all know that the striker position relies on confidence and not just natural ability. It also relies on the rest of the team playing to their strengths which is a contribuing factor to the struggles that Jordan Ayew and Alexander Sorloth have encounted in the absence of the injured Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham.
There is no doubting that if Benteke and Wickham were fit and playing, Ayew would not be at the club and Sorloth would not be getting game time, not that the big Norwegian is at the moment come to that!
One of the annoyances is the way we play and it is the same when Benteke is on the pitch. Whether it is the players simply not thinking but it happens all too often. When the likes of Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha or Jordan Ayew are playing up front, we continue to put the ball into the box in the air which is obviously far better suited to Benteke, Wickham and Sorloth. But, when they are playing, the ball seems to be played to feet more often than now which, of course, is far better suited to Townsend, Zaha and Ayew.
Perhaps it is a mental block or a headless chicken type scenario when players are not thinking in the heat of the moment. The strikers do have to help themselves and while there have been a couple of good performances from the Ghanaian and Norwegian, it is goals that they will ultimately be measured by.
In both cases, it will be interesting to see what a goal will do for either of them. Sorloth had a fanastic chance against Spurs, and did again for his country this week in the Nations League. He missed both.
Meanwhile, Ayew scored a brace for Ghana against Ethiopia on Sunday so there could well be some light at the end of the tunnel. His first was a well placed effort across the goalkeeper and into the far side of the net while his second was from the penalty spot.
It is key that Hodgson takes note of the confidence finding the net may give the former Aston Villa man ahead of the trip to Old Trafford this weekend even if it was on international duty.
There is no doubt that as soon as either Benteke or Wickham are fit enough to start, they will do so at the expense of Ayew and Sorloth. Having them both on the bench away at Chelsea a couple of weeks ago while playing Townsend and Zaha in forward roles said everything we needed to know about Hodgson’s views.
There is no excuse for Ayew, he has been playing in the Premier League since joining Aston Villa in 2015 and has over half a century of international caps to his name. Sorloth is different. He has been around a bit for a player of such a young age, Palace is the fifth club her has played professional football for, perhaps that suggests the problem in itself but the Premier League has been quite a step up from what he has been used to. Regardless, he has been capped at several youth levels for Norway and is already in double figures when it comes to full internationals appearances so there is certainly something about him.
Time will tell for Sorloth and while it may have been a difficult time for him to join Palace, time does not stand still for anyone at this level. Ayew is a mystery, there have been several views from Villa and Swansea fans on their former striker, not all of which are complimentary. This is the hand that we have been dealt with right now so they have to find a way, particularly with the up and coming fixture list.
The January transfer window is a little over a month away and their may be the potential for the loan deal with Swansea to be cancelled and send Ayew back in order for Palace to look elsewhere. When you look at it, the crop of strikers we have reads well on paper – Benteke, Wickham, Ayew, Sorloth. The injuries have been difficult but they are for any club.
It is a case of making do with what we have for now and finding a way to get Ayew and Sorloth on the scoresheet is paramount. There are eight Premier League fixtures ahead of the January transfer window and these two have a lot to prove.