1 – Injuries Taking Their Toil
While Sam Allardyce has not used injuries as an excuse for the thrashing at Manchester City, instead focussing on himself and the players who performed so poorly, it is evident that the core strength during the winning run is being sorely missed. Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins developed an understanding in that time. Scott Dann, who would have stepped in for either of them was joined on the sidelines by the pair. Any team missing their first three choice centre backs would struggle – and these absences have been compounded by Yohan Cabaye’s injury. The playmaker has been sorely missed for his defensive and offensive contributions.
2 – Jimmy Mac Looking Lost
Soon after he joined, it was rumoured that Big Sam did not know how James McArthur, so often the critical cog in Alan Pardew’s team, would fit into the team’s new shape. With Luka Milivojević slotting in front of the back four, Cabaye’s resurgence and Jason Puncheon being made captain, McArthur has found it hard to break into the team since returning from injury. While he has covered Cabaye’s loss, the midfield looks disjointed and Jimmy Mac himself doesn’t seem to be comfortable in a more ridged and disciplined team shape. The late bursts into the box have been curtailed, his use of the ball often poorer than it has been; an energetic box-to-box midfielder he may be – the playmaker he is replacing he is not.
3 – Schlupp’s Versatility Limiting His Impact
Jeffery Schlupp was courted by a few Premier League clubs and chose Palace at a time the club lacked options on the left side, both in defence and attack. Since then, he has played at left back, left wing back, left wing and now at centre back. While 25-player squads do need a degree of versatility, Schlupp’s impact has been limited as he has not had a significant run in one position. He, and Allardyce, need to define a role for the former striker (as he was when Dougie Freedman tried to sign him) else his career will fall victim to his adaptability. And Saturday’s performance made it clear; that role is not in the centre of defence.
Morning!???????????? pic.twitter.com/S4XVypwpG8— Five Year Plan???? (@FYPFanzine) May 8, 2017
4 – Even if Palace Survive, the Season Needs a Post Mortem
In a seesaw season, survival looked beyond the team 11 games ago, was in touching distance three games ago and now, in somewhat typical Palace fashion, is going down to the last two games. This is not a new problem – the club ended last season on an abysmal run of form and if we do manage to secure survival, this should provide a sense of relief and not celebration. If the club is to avoid the sort of decline seen at Sunderland, there needs to be a root and branch review of the season and the players. Saturday’s result showed up many players (albeit some in new positions) for failings they had displayed in the first two thirds of the season. Lessons must be learned to avoid any repetition.
Wilf on Insta..???????????????? pic.twitter.com/oK3UTGBteK— Five Year Plan???? (@FYPFanzine) May 8, 2017
5 – One More Crucial Round
The game against Hull provides Palace with an immediate chance to redeem the heavy loss to City and in doing so, secure another season of Premier League football. For all the positives during the excellent eight game run and the dreary last three outings, the management, players and fans need to re-group, wipe that slate clean and get ready for the game against Hull as if it is the play-off final. The players cannot afford to carry the last three games into encounter at Selhurst and the fans have to play their part as well. Against City, the players made unenforced errors from City’s second onwards – the team’s spirit seems sapped since Sakho’s injury against Spurs. It needs to re-emerge and see us through this final stage.