It isn't Just Zaha Palace Miss, They Do Not Win Without Tomkins Either

Written by Jack Snell

"Crystal Palace are a One Man team.”

“Crystal Palace can’t win without Zaha.”

The loss at Southampton provoked, yet again, the unfortunate statistic suggesting that Palace are unable to win without Wilf in the side. Last season Zaha missed 10 games and, of these 10 games, Palace were unable to register a win. It is perhaps the drama of the transfer window; the nonsensical speculation, the poor, shady journalism or even his new, high rolling contract, however the spotlight is rigidly fixed on him. 

Another player spent a lengthy period on the sidelines last season; James Tomkins. His importance has been undercut by the media’s obsession with Zaha. Of the 11 games played without him last season, Palace only won a single game; 2-1 at home versus Chelsea. After that, the next 10 consecutive wins all contained the sturdy centre back.

From 14th October 2017 until today, early September, Crystal Palace have still failed to register a win without James Tomkins’ name on the team sheet.

Of Palace’s 16 defeats last season and 3 this season, Tomkins played in only seven. One of these defeats he was substitutedin the dying embers versus Tottenham and they scored within seconds of his departure. Of Palace’s 16 defeats last season and three this season, Zaha has played in eight.


It may be impossible to win without Zaha, however the likelihood of a loss increases without Tomkins. It is important to also note that Palace did not lose a single game when Tomkins and Sahko commandeered the centre of the defence. When looking at these statistics, it can be argued that Tomkins’ presence on the field yields more points/ prevents the loss of points than Zaha’s presence.

Zaha scored three times as many goals as Tomkins last season, however football is not a game that is purely won by scoring lots of goals. This was proven in the 2013/14 season where Liverpool scored 101 goals yet conceded 50. Palace only conceded 48 that season and finished 11th. It is not just goals that puts points on the table.

The defence has to be the foundation on which the team is based on otherwise points will be consistently dropped. Again, using that season as an example; 3rd Place Chelsea were two points behind Liverpool, scoring 30 less goals but conceding almost 50% less. When defenders can regularly produce stand out performances, they can win the team games and save the team points. This was true on countless occasions last season where Tomkins put his body on the line to protect the Palace goal.

He even produced one of the most impressive off-the-line-clearances of the seasons vs Chelsea. Of the defeats Tomkins played in, only one of these games had a 2-goal deficit. So even when losing, having Tomkins in the team can reduce the goal difference. Towards the business end of last season Palace fans were saying how the superior goal difference ‘almost felt like an extra point.’

From 14th October 2017 until early September, Palace have still failed to register a win without Tomkins on the team sheet 

With only a few games left of the season and the league table looking tight, Swansea, Stoke and West Brom were all in the high -20’s while Palace were in the low teens. This is a huge mental boost for the both the players and the fans and should not be under appreciated.

Finally, although only scoring three goals last season he was the highest scoring centre back, since Sahko and Dann only managed a goal a piece. From these three goals, two of them came in victories; Brighton and Huddersfield.

He is an essential player to the team and the results show how he is irreplaceable with the current members in the squad. Although working hard last season, Dann, Kelly, Reidewald, Delaney and Fosu-Mensah all failed to fill his shoes. This could be Palaces’ failure of the summer transfer market as they have not brought in sufficient cover for such an injury. “Crystal Palace can’t win without James Tomkins”