With last Saturday’s defeat to Everton still fresh in the mind there has been a sense of realism breaking out at Selhurst Park this week. After the growing euphoria established by Pardew’s 100% record during his first four matches, the jolt to the system delivered by Lukaku and friends has concentrated the minds of the club back on the relegation scrap. And the game against Leicester on Saturday is a timely reminder that there is plenty at stake when the two teams lock horns in a crucial encounter at the King Power stadium.
Nigel Pearson has a grittiness about him that has not been reflected in his team so far as they have sunk to the bottom of the table. In adding the man mountain Huth to the ranks Pearson clearly wants more steel. With so many teams bunched together at the bottom, a mere six points separate Leicester from Palace in 13th, so the importance on getting ‘one over’ your rivals is marked. These are the sorts of games that can make of break the season and Pardew is determined to regain the momentum that stalled last week. It may not be pretty, but it will need to be effective.
With some solid January transfer window activity having strengthened the squad, this is the sort of test, which will prove if we have added value. With Jedinak’s return delayed because of a crocked ankle after his exertions leading Australia to the Asian Cup, there is a reliance on McArthur and Ledley to shore up the centre and ensure that we can gain control of the midfield where most of the action will take place. It would also be quite handy not to concede the first goal as we have made a habit of doing in our last few games. Having to prove how good Pardew teams are at exhibiting ‘bouncebackability’ may be entertaining but it is also exhausting.
Going forward it would be good to see Chamakh, providing he has recovered from the nasty wound he picked up last week, as he knits things together with an assiduous dexterity that we sorely missed after he was substituted. Additionally if Zaha is to prove his detractors wrong then now would be a good time to start. Miracle of miracles, we might even get to see a genuine left back now that Souare has joined from Lille. It will be interesting to see how he settles in to the hurly burly of Premier League at its most elemental. Bienvenue Pape.
Richard’s first book The A-Z of Football Hates is available online and in bookshops
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