A two-week break from English football = the perfect time to recap the balanced bottom half of the table. Now it’s down to the last few dozen minutes before the Premier League returns. The last team in the table is down to 12th. Crystal Palace by just four points, and it’s the Eagles that we’ll break down in the first part of a new feature.
Crystal Palace have come into the relegation fight in poor form since the World Cup. Last time they won on New Year’s Eve, since then 13 games waiting for three points. The traditional Premier League participant has surprisingly floated close to the relegation zone and has resorted to a change of coach.
An unwanted legend
The coaching greenhorn Patrick Vieira is being replaced by Roy Hodgson. The legend has led the club in recent years when the Eagles have regularly avoided the stress of relegation to the Championship. He will be 76 in the summer and although he has a big name with the fans, they were not too keen on his reappointment.
By the end of the 2020/21 season, Hodgson had almost wasted his old-fashioned and unfashionable 4-4-2, and Palace were almost swept up in a bitter fight for relegation. Three wins from the last 13 rounds suggested it was time for a change. Vieira came in with attractive football, but it stopped earning points after the World Cup and because of the heavy draw.
Stars, we need to work hard!
You can’t blame Vieira alone. His biggest gem Wilfried Zaha is more furious than scoring goals after the resumption of the season, Eberechi Eze hasn’t really got going after his recovery either. Ditto Odsonne Édouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta, two productive goal scorers but who have been absolutely zero this season.
It’s almost unbelievable what kind of lineup Palace’s offensive options could build. And we haven’t even mentioned Jordan Ayew and Michael Olise. It would be a shame if such a loaded attack, backed by a decent midfield and defence, couldn’t save the day.
The plan for the rest of the season
The Eagles now have no choice but to clean up what they themselves have soiled. From quiet games in the middle of the table, they are indeed in contention for next season, although they can think Top 4 next season if they are saved with a young defence and a good attack.
Crystal Palace have the easiest lot in the league. Of the big six, only Tottenham awaits it, after that it plays all eight teams below it in the table.
Leicester, Everton. West Ham, Nottingham and Bournemoith at home. Simply everything suggests that the Eagles can comfortably swim out of the relegation waters into the last few rounds.
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