The festive period of games proved quite difficult for in-form Crystal Palace, although the likes of Bournemouth, Swansea and Chelsea provided the ‘easiest’ run of matches in relation to their average league position. The Eagles failed to win any of those and, worse than that, there wasn’t even a single goal to be scored.
No Palace player has found the back of the net in four consecutive Premier League games now – a total of 360 minutes of football – the club firing their most recent blank in front of goal on Tuesday night, a 1-0 defeat away to bottom of the league Aston Villa. It was the Villans’ first league win since the opening day of the season and a game Palace really should be winning.
It all comes down to one resulting factor…we NEED a striker.
The Eagles have scored 23 league goals this season and only a single one of those has come from a fully recognised striker; a penalty converted by Connor Wickham in the away defeat of Stoke City back in December.
Last weekend’s 2-1 win at Southampton in the third round of the FA Cup did show signs that not all is too bad, but, once again, those goals were not scored by strikers.
If you look at the other 19 clubs in the Premier League, the majority of their fans will be able to tell you who their team’s go-to man for goals really is. At Palace, the fans can’t tell, the football pundits can’t tell and Pardew, well, can he really tell you?
Out-and-out strikers such as Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Olivier Giroud, Jamie Vardy and Odion Ighalo are a few names that come to mind. Yes, fair enough, Palace won’t be able to sign an Aguero or a Lukaku, but Leicester City and Watford have proved that you don’t need to spend £30 million on a striker to fire the goals in the top-flight.
Vardy and Ighalo were purchased for a combined fee of £1 million and they have taken the Premier League by storm. Between them, they already have 28 league goals so far this season. This is what Crystal Palace are crying out for.
Every player in the team seems to be doing their job and, up until recently, have done their job very well. However, in the final third of the pitch, the forwards need to be scoring. The pressure on the midfielders to get forward and find the goals seems to finally have taken its toll.
The squad suffered a number of injuries during the festive period and the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham are only just coming back to full match fitness. The influential Bolasie is still missing and his presence is dearly missed. Since he suffered an injury last month, the team have failed to score a Premier League goal in his absence, and lack attacking flair as a whole.
Patrick Bamford, the 22-year-old who was signed on a season long-loan from Chelsea, found game time hard to come by at Selhurst Park. The young talent abruptly ended his spell after growing frustrated at his lack of first-team opportunities.
I’m disappointed it didn’t work out for him because he is a goalscorer, something that Pardew’s men need. Although he may have only played in the Football League, last season he was named the Championship Player of Year and was influential in Middlesbrough’s push for the play-offs. I just think the manager could’ve given him a few more appearances and, who knows, he may have found his feet.
Now with the January transfer window almost at the halfway stage, Pardew has stated a number of times his sole focus is to bring in a centre forward. I believe he needs to add someone to the squad who has a physical presence, lots of pace and can find the back of the net on a regular basis.
If the club are to try and secure a top-six finish, or better what they did last season, a new front man needs to be brought in, and sooner rather than later.