Mix Things Up In The Last Few Games, What Have We Got To Lose?

Play exactly the way they did against a club fighting for a champions league spot.

(Author Update: I wrote this post late Monday night after the snoozefest that was the Leicester City game where Palace looked a disaster and played boring football. They proceeded the flip the script against Chelsea and looked like a Palace team that we have been excited about before. Which is why it can be so frustrating to be a fan of this club. They are capable of playing an excited brand of football. We can attack and have the players to do so, Roy tends to choose not to. SO, that said, I still believe what I wrote. In fact, I may believe it more now.)

My last article published on TEB came just before Newcastle strolled into Selhurst with Palace desperate for points.

They took three that day and went on to win the next three matches (despite a 100 day break in between a win at home to Watford and a win at Bournemouth). Things were looking up for a club that has been destined to be in a relegation scrap for all eternity in the Premier League.

This year felt different. Fans were planning mid-week getaways to Italy or France.

Dreams are just that, dreams…

After a 4-0 defeat at the hands of newly crowned league Champions Liverpool, excitement waned slightly but a crucial game at home against a Burnley side that was level on points, loomed on the horizon. This game would set the tone for the rest of the season and catapult the club back into a European dreamland.

Truth be told, I only witnessed less than a minute of the match because I unfortunately was attending a funeral of a good friend that was taken too soon (life is short, tell your loved ones that you love them). I got out of the funeral, turned the game on as we were driving away, and less than 30 seconds after doing so Ben Mee’s header glanced off Vicente Guaita’s arm and ricocheted in off the post and into the back of the Palace net. I promptly turned the game off, that was all I needed to hear as it was the eventual match winner.

Palace had another chance to redeem themselves at the weekend with a trip to struggling Leicester City on the horizon. Not only did they not redeem themselves, the display was anything but satisfactory. Mistakes were made all over the pitch and Palace looked almost disinterested in fighting for their place up the Premier League table. We know they will be playing Premier League football next season, but where does this club go from here? Are they going to be fighting for survival each season until its ultimate demise or can this team transform into a mid-table stalwart with European dreams?

Shots, shots, shots shots, shots shots, EVERYBODY!

Since the restart on the season, Palace have managed a measly 7 shots on goal. They scored their only two attempts against struggling Bournemouth, did not have a touch inside their opponents box when facing Liverpool, and only managed a late headed attempt from defender Gary Cahill on goal versus Leicester City. They have the second fewest goals in the league and in fact, the only teams that have scored fewer goals than Palace this season in England’s top four leagues are Norwich City (almost certainly to be relegated from the Premier League), Bolton (relegated from League One), and Stevenage (bottom of League Two). That is not good company to keep.

Also worrying is Palace’s anaemic record from corner kicks. At the time of writing, (before the game against Chelsea), Palace have taken 158 corner kicks and have scored a grand total of one goal. That’s a conversion rate of 0.006%. That’s…..not very good. An article from ESPN in late May detailed how important set pieces can be and how critical they are for a teams success. Palace have all but eliminated that threat from their game and the 28 goals they have scored this season illustrates that point.

So now what?

Palace have five games left of the Premier league season. And only one of those games is against a team outside of the top eight (Villa on Sunday). The road ahead is no easy task. Couple that with a brand of football that Palace play under Roy Hodgson and it might be a long month ahead. That is why Roy needs to do something that he seems incapable of doing – shaking things up.

Play Brandon Pierrick up top with Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew – see if that injects some life into the Palace talisman as his last few performances have left much to desire. Start Tyrick Mitchell at left back and move Patrick van Aanholt up to midfield behind Wilf – why not? What do we have to lose? The club has already gone from 9th place in the league to a disappointing 14th in a matter of games. Why not throw caution to the wind and see what happens?

I think I speak for most Palace fans when they moan about being down a goal and subbing off two defensive midfielders….for two defensive midfielders. Where is the creativity? Where is the drive? The complacency of a relegation scrap year in and year out is exhausting. But, at least we have that to be upset about, right? The cautionary tales of clubs like of Sunderland, Stoke, Hull, QPR, or even Boro. Things can be fine and dandy when you’re playing in the league with the big boys, but that rug can be pulled out from underneath you in a hurry and suddenly those European dreams are further away than a few points in the table.

The great thing about Palace is that the fans never waver and are always in full voice, even if they can’t be at Selhurst to do so. So be loud, be proud, be Palace. Always.

UP THE PALACE!!!

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