Five Things Crystal Palace Need To Do To Beat Aston Villa
1. COMING UP FOR AIR
Two consecutive victories have given us some breathing space but such is the nature of the congestion at the bottom of the table that even the luxury of 14th place with a handful of games remaining is no guarantee of survival. Pulis’ pragmatism is clear, and his message that more points are needed and nothing can be taken for granted is sage advice. Whilst praising recent performances, the need to keep pushing has never been so important especially in a season that has had more twists and turns than a game of snakes and ladders.
2. HOME FROM HOME
And so we face the latest in a series of massive games against the schizophrenic Villa, who have the same number of points as us, but a superior away record to their rather odd home form. That they have beaten both Chelsea and Man City at Villa Park but have still managed to lose 10 home games suggests this is a curious beast. Paul Lambert has given younger players a chance and whilst we know you don’t win anything with young players, maybe this is at the root of their inconsistency. Fabian Delph is a prime example, veering between brilliant and anonymous.
3. THE THREE ‘C’S
There has been a sea change in the last two matches against Chelsea and Cardiff as we have begun to pose much more of a threat upfront and at the same time still been solid defensively. Football is a simple game and the formula for success is not rocket science, but so much of the implementation relies on confidence, cohesion and communication. The good news is that Palace have grown in confidence, have a settled side and the players look like they know each others’ games.
4. STICK OR TWIST
The advantages of having a settled side are clear to see and there is a strong argument for keeping the same team that has performed so well recently. So although Chammers and Gayle are fit again and the likes of Ince and Murray must be itching for action, I would stick with the same XI in the hope that Puncheon and Bolasie continue delivering with the defence and midfield keeping it tight and Jerome foraging upfront with gusto and guts.
5. VULNERABLE VILLA
All teams have weaknesses but some are able to cover up the cracks more effectively than others, so assuming Pulis has done his homework, (rather than spying), we should be set up to pounce on any vulnerability Villa might have. Finally, on the accusation from the sad, desperate Vincent Tan that we indulged in some pre-match espionage the less said the better. But the sooner Tan hauls his sorry arse away from football the better, not only for all of us but particularly for the Cardiff fans who have suffered enough of his nonsense.
Follow Richard on Twitter, @rcfoster