Palace falter against Tottenham thanks to a late goal from Victor Wanyama - here are 5 things Naveed Khan learned from the game.
1) Pre-season seems ongoing
Two games into the season, and the team line-up does not include new signing Mandanda (an unused player in the Euros), Cabaye (who played a grand total of 91 minutes) and Tomkins (albeit following an injury) but does include others who played regularly in Euro2016 suggests that the club had a disjointed pre-season.
At White Hart Lane, the team seemed disorganised at the back, allowed Tottenham to create too many openings and with the ball, Palace created little. The performance seemed more like a game to get up to speed and a desire to win points.
2) Wickham is a conundrum
On the face of it, Conor Wickham has all of the attributes needed for a striker at this level. He is big, strong yet has a burst of pace, covers a lot of ground and a ferocious shot. But, whether it is down to the team’s style of play, shortcomings or the result of years of Wickham himself being deployed out on the wing, he does not receive the ball enough in the box.
On Saturday, out of 32 touches, he had just one in the penalty area. While service is clearly an issue, his positional play also needs development – the attached image shows the lack of touches he had in central areas.
3) Cabaye the heartbeat
In half a game, Yohan Cabaye showed how integral he is to our team. Coming on for Joe Ledley at half-time, Cabaye’s introduction invigorated the team through some spells, was a link between the lines and looked to get the wide players and Lee involved more. He was somewhat curtailed by not have a solid base around him to enable him to pull the team forward but his importance to the team’s style was evident. The obvious question was, if fit to come on for half a game, why he was not used from the start?
4) Jedi the player needs replacing
Much has been said about his leadership qualities but the loss at Spurs demonstrated that we miss a player in his style; someone to shield the back four, win the ball and move it on.
While a fully fit Cabaye and McArthur will rightly be our first choice central midfield, some games will call for a bit more bite and that is not Ledely’s natural game and of the other players Pardew spoke about as central midfield solutions – Lee, Mutch and Puncheon, none of them is a ball winner. The squad needs one.
5) Benteke part of the solution, not the whole solution
Christian Benteke is a very good Premier League striker; his record shows as much. However, he is not the sort who can make things happen without any service and while he is probably the best striker we could sign, he is not the complete solution to the team’s woes.
While we can expect him to be the focal point the team has been missing, our desired upturn in fortunes cannot rest solely on his shoulders. This may explain why, despite being a record signing by some distance, fans are still concerned about other signings.