What went wrong for Palace against West Brom? Here's Alfie Davis with a tactical breakdown...
With Palace fans in transfer meltdown, Pardew’s promise of a ‘transitional period’ can either excite fans or leave them dreading a long season – and if the latest result is anything to go by, things do look pretty dismal.
A visit from a stubborn West Brom side was always going to force our hand to come out and play more expansive possession football, actually building from the back instead of relying on the counter attack.
Pardew decided to deploy Jason Puncheon in a deeper midfield role to compensate for Cabaye’s absence in the starting line-up, but we often lacked the cutting edge to pick out key passes in the final third, which proved costly in the end.
Playing at Selhurst against teams of similar ilk puts pressure on our side, and doesn’t allow us to play to our strengths; instead of building from the back into the midfielders, we often seem to opt for a long ball from Delaney.
This sort of play was never going to be troublesome for a Pulis side who arguably have more prowess in the air and as a result, possession was often squandered. For a side that want to move to a style of play more like Barcelona, we do not look anywhere near comfortable enough on the ball to actually play this way and cause problems for sides in the Premier League.
The team arguably wasn’t at full strength, and starter Lee Chung Yong was surprisingly positive - despite reports of rifts between himself and Pardew in May.
The biggest criticism of Palace is that we don’t score enough goals, and Wickham really was unable to have any influence on the game at all. His hold up play isn’t the worst, but perhaps he just lacks the cutting edge or experience to lead a forward line on his own.
Pardew’s reluctance in the past to deploy two strikers has often angered many, but judging by the midfield and striking options available of late, it really doesn’t seem plausible unless signings are made and Pardew is having a dilemma in terms of how we should be playing football with the players we have.
On a positive note, a competitive debut of Andros Townsend did show glimmers of how he can influence the course of a game. In contrast to Bolasie and Zaha, Townsend offers more threat towards the goal itself and, despite not materialising in this game, has proven he can give us a whole new dimension in getting goals.
It perhaps was too soon for Andros however, as despite looking lively he wasn’t sharp enough to take his chances. Zaha also had a frustrating game as he probably should have put us into the lead – the chance he had was one of the very few times we broke free past the West Brom back four, proving that our squad right now is generally better at playing on the break.
One game down, Bolasie gone and no singings made – Pardew has a lot to think about, and maybe this ‘transition’ isn’t going to bode well for the squad at all.