After this season’s unpredictable start to the campaign, Crystal Palace are struggling to live up to their pre-season hype of being capable of challenging for European football next year.
After slumping to their fourth home defeat in six offerings against struggling Sunderland (0-1) on Monday night, Alan Pardew’s side now sit tenth in the standings, seven points adrift of the top four due to their inconsistent league form this term.
But what three things have we learnt about the Eagles after 13 games?
1) Home form must improve
Many tipped Crystal Palace to be knocking on the door of the top seven and to be challenging for European football next term this season; and they would be in among the Premier League ‘big boys’, so to speak, if it wasn’t for their disappointing home form.
Monday night’s thoroughly frustrating defeat to strugglers Sunderland at Selhurst Park, their fourth home loss in six league games, topped the lot and signified a real problem for Pardew’s side in front of their loyal home fans.
Previous home defeats to Arsenal, Manchester City and West Ham United; which to be fair weren’t the easiest of visitors to Selhurst Park, have cost the Eagles a spot in the top four so far this campaign and cranked up the pressure on their own bid for Europe’s finest.
2) Most entertaining team in the Premier League
With 13 Premier League games underneath our belt; it is safe to say that Crystal Palace are arguably the least boring team to watch in the English top-flight having endured just one draw all season, less than any other team in the division.
Their goalless encounter with current runners-up Manchester United is their only stalemate this season, although it is one that could prove a valuable point come May.
But having snatched six wins and suffered six defeats from their opening 13 fixtures; it is safe to say that Palace fans are enduring a roller coaster start to the season given their team’s unpredictable and inconsistent league form. For the neutral supporter; Palace are the most entertaining team to watch each weekend.
The highs include Palace’s impressive 2-1 victory at defending league champions Chelsea and their similar 2-1 triumph at Anfield to halt Jurgen Klopp’s unbeaten reign, although Monday’s slump against Sunderland and last month’s hammering by West Ham at Selhurst Park tell a completely different story altogether.
3) Still seeking that star striker
Perhaps the most significant factor Palace need to resolve in order to improve their home form and reignite their push for European football is their goalscoring ability.
Pardew’s side have managed to find the back of the net just 14 times in their opening 13 league games; averaging just over one goal a game (1.07), a running statistic that will not see Palace win many games this season if they continue to fluff their lines in front of goal.
Patrick Bamford’s loan spell from Chelsea has proven wasteful; meanwhile last term’s top goalscorer Glenn Murray was surprisingly allowed to leave the Eagles for newly promoted Bournemouth during the summer, meaning no striker at the club has managed to score a single Premier League goal this campaign.
Summer signing Yohan Cabaye is Palace’s top goalscorer in the league on four goals, followed by defender Scott Dann and winger Yannick Bolasie on two. Boss Pardew needs to use the January transfer window very wisely.