After what seems like an interminable break (when ten days felt more like ten weeks), Palace return to action on Saturday to face QPR. Having made progress under Pardew, they now need to show some decent home form to secure Premier League survival.
QPR’s away form has not been much to write home about, a solitary win away at Sunderland the only points gathered on the road, but this is the sort of game that needs unremitting effort as any complacency can undo all the good work of the last few months.
Charlie Austin has scored more goals than Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria put together and in a struggling team that is a sure sign of a good striker. He does not get that many chances but those that come his way he usually converts. The double Ds of Dann and Delaney will have to be on their game throughout to snuff out his threat.
As for goals at the other end, Glenn Murray may well return after his one game suspension for being sent off at West Ham and he will be eager to keep his goal-scoring run of three in two matches going.
One of the players who looks to have been given a lift by Pardew’s arrival is Jason Puncheon. He had a curious match at West Ham starting with sloppy concessions of possession in the first twenty minutes but then suddenly blossomed in the role of playing in the space in between the midfield and the front. Added to which he supplied all three goals from set pieces, which had Allardyce tearing his hair out in clumps. That he was pretty anonymous during the defeat at Southampton a few days later shows his inconsistency but given the right conditions he may be the key player to unlock the Rangers creaky defence.
There has been speculation over whether Speroni is now past his best and due a rest. The Southampton goal is held up as further evidence of his waning powers and was down to his self-confessed error as he spilled a pretty tame shot into the path of Mane who clipped it over him for the only goal of the match.
Considering Jules has given the club a decade worth of unstinting, sterling service many suggest we should repay that loyalty and stick by him. After all he made several crucial saves in the West Ham game when we were under concerted pressure in the last twenty minutes.
On balance I would play him, as every keeper makes the odd error and he deserves our eternal gratitude. So Jules let’s cut out those spills and cement your place as a club legend with a few more solid performances. Manos de Dios.
Richard’s first book The A-Z of Football Hates is available online and at bookshops
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