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Sam Allardyce Has To Resolve Palace’s Defensive Issues
Crystal Palace are sleepwalking towards the Championship following an atrocious run of form since the arrival of Sam Allardyce. The 62-year-old was hailed as the club’s saviour from the drop when he replaced Alan Pardew in December as a result of the Eagles’ struggles in the Premier League, but their form has taken a deeper plunge in his six weeks in the dugout.
The London-based outfit have won just once under the tenure of the former England manager, and have suffered damaging defeats at home to Swansea City and Sunderland since the turn of the year. Palace are currently backed in the latest bet365 betting odds at 4/5 to be relegated from the top flight, returning to the second tier for the first time since 2013.
Allardyce has plenty of talent at his disposal to turn the situation around after spending lavishly in the transfer window. The club spent £30m to sign Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Schlupp and Luka Milivojevic, while Mamadou Sakho joined on loan from Liverpool. However, the new men have shown no signs of providing a spark to the struggling Eagles, with the club recording back-to-back defeats since the end of January.
A reason for hope for Allardyce’s men is that he initially failed to cajole Sunderland into life last season before the Black Cats staged a miraculous escape late in the term, defeating Everton and Chelsea in back-to-back matches to secure their safety. There is no shortage of quality at Selhurst Park as Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Wilfried Zaha have all operated at a high level in the Premier League in the past.
At their best the Eagles should be able to blow their opponents away due to the talent they possess in the final third. However, they were toothless in a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Sunderland at home, while their threat was largely nullified against the Swans in a 2-1 loss at the beginning of January.
The difference between Palace and the teams in and around them in the relegation battle is their form at Selhurst Park. The Eagles have claimed just two wins on home soil, claiming only seven points thus far this term. Allardyce has to get his side firing at home to get their supporters back on side after they were widely derided for their inept display against Sunderland.
Palace have crucial matches on the horizon against Middlesbrough and Watford, and anything other than maximum points from those contests would likely see the team’s confidence dip even lower, leaving them with an almost impossible task to remain in the division.
The Eagles have been extremely susceptible at the back this season, keeping just two clean sheets in their 25 matches as Scott Dann and Damien Delaney struggle immensely in the heart of the defence. Keeper Wayne Hennessey has been all over the place between the sticks, putting his team-mates under even more pressure to stop their opponents probing away in and around the box.
Allardyce has to make strides to quell these issues to give his side, at the least, a chance to avoid the drop as should these problems continue until the end of the campaign they have all but no chance of playing Premier League football next term.