It has been a strange season for Crystal Palace in some respects. A 12th-place finish, two cup quarter-finals appearances, away wins at champions Manchester City and Arsenal, yet something still doesn’t feel right. There could have been so much more to a season where based on the form of the last 14 games, they would lie only in third behind two of the greatest sides in Premier League history.
There have been several highs throughout the season, none more so than their away form. Nine of their 14 wins have come away from Selhurst Park. Any Palace fan would be able to tell you that this is of no surprise. Roy Hodgson’s men are better suited to playing away from home. The scintillating place of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend is used to hit teams on the counter-attack. It has worked too, with 32 of their 51 goals coming away from home.
Furthermore, at times their style of play has been sensational. With a side built around Wilfried Zaha, his pace has been utilised effectively. Much of their play goes through the Ivorian or out to the wings. However, it is those in the centre of midfield who are most key. The midfield pair of Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur work alongside one of Max Meyer or Cheikhou Kouyate to dictate the game.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s growth as a young full-back has been the highlight for many Palace fans this season. It is likely that he only missed on the PFA team of the season due to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s better record of assists. Nonetheless, it is likely that he may not be with the Eagles for much longer as he is destined for the very top. His tackle success ratio has almost become second nature to the Selhurst Park faithful.
Crystal Palace now lie in a precarious position with the summer transfer window looming. Bids for Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka almost seem inevitable. Both have attracted interested from the top clubs in Europe, including Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.
The departures from South London may also not stop there. Mamadou Sakho has spoken previously about how he wants to play in the Champions League again. Luka Milivojevic also has just a year remaining on his contract.
In contrast to their away record, their record at home has been abysmal. Just five wins at home all year. That means they have one of the worst home records in the league. It ranks only ahead of relegated Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City for the worst home record. They often struggle to break teams down at home, as the opposition aim to hit Palace on the counter-attack. A different style of play must be implemented at home for an improvement next season.
Perhaps most frustrating is the return to having no consistent goalscorer. That is if Michy Batshuayi does not return to Crystal Palace during the summer. The Belgian scored six goals during his loan spell from Chelsea. That is a return of 154 minutes per goal, a better record than any other Palace striker. Roy Hodgson will be hoping to cure his striker problems during the summer.
Overall Verdict on Crystal Palace
On the whole, it has been a successful year for Crystal Palace. Success hasn’t come in the form of silverware or a Europa League spot. However, it is a record Premier League points total. It is also their record goals tally in the Premier League.
However, there is still plenty of work to be done and improvement needed in time for next season. The expectation should be a top half finish at minimum for Roy Hodgson’s men.
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