Ahead of Sunday’s big day out at Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final, GOLDIE offers his insight into five things we have learned about Crystal Palace this season
1 Whatever the question is, Adebayor is not the answerA short-term contract which might have resurrected the former Arsenal and Tottenham striker’s career really depends on his being a regular source of goals.
One goal in seven appearances since Emmanuel Adebayor was signed by Palace boss Alan Pardew in the January window is well below par, and with the player now aged 32, seems unlikely to improve.
Although he did at least wind up the Arsenal fans last week.
2 Cabaye is one of the signings of the seasonMentioned in the same breath as a signing of the season by the Evening Standard alongside the likes of Payet and Cech, Palace’s summer coup of landing midfielder Yohan Cabaye is something to be celebrated.
But no one player can carry his 10 team mates every week, particularly as the Frenchman has put in a few tired-looking performances in the second-half of the season. The midweek performance at Old Trafford hopefully is explained by having one eye on the cup game. But getting the best out of Cabaye by giving him proper support from players of a similar calibre has to be one priority for next term.
3 The only consistent thing about Palace has been their inconsistency
The fans’ frustration with a side that has blown hot and cold throughout the season – and sometimes even within the same game – is well-placed. That inconsistency, with the four-month-long league losing streak, could have landed the club in a whole heap of trouble. It is part of what has made Palace a decent cup side, and why Eagles fans are off to Wembley this weekend. But it is something that needs addressing just to aspire to Premier League mid-table mediocrity.
4 Time for Wilf to grow into the player we all want him to beLast week’s game at the Emirates was a fine example of the footballing curate’s egg that is Wilfried Zaha. His pace and skill was giving the Arsenal defenders twisted blood everytime he was on the ball. But too often, the resulting cross or pass was wayward. End product, or lack of it, must not become an issue for Palace’s flying winger (see 3 above).
There’s no doubt that Zaha is a potential match-winner every time he pulls on the shirt. Trouble is with that word “potential”. He’s not a kid any longer, and at 23, if his game had matured as it should, he ought to have expected to be adding to his international caps at this summer’s European championships. If he can spend the next few months developing his delivery, then Pardew and the coaching staff will have one of those world-class players needed to support Cabaye (see 2 above).
5 Pardew needs to find a formation, and stick to itWhether it has been the lack of league wins, not knowing what his best formation is, or trying something tactically tricksy before this weekend, the switching back and forth between a 4-5-1 and 4-4-2, and various things in between, has done nothing to help the consistency thing (see 3 above).
Palace’s defensive frailties may also owe something to the unsettled tactical systems, as does the need for a defensive midfielder to shield the back-four (possibly explaining the latest reports linking a Selhurst move for Alex Song), while frequent goalkeeping errors fail to explain why fans’ favourite Jules Speroni has had just one appearance this season.
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