Crystal Palace: Ward's Been Brilliant But Puncheon Must Add Consistency To His Game
1 GET ON TO THE FRONT FOOT
Following a surprise and very welcome win at Villa Park on Boxing Day and a more than respectable narrow defeat to all-conquering City at the impregnable Etihad Palace have bounced back from the worrying 3-0 defeat in their last game to Super Al’s Newcastle. So they must be positive in their approach to the home game with a Norwich team who are being slowly and surely sucked into the relegation mire. By being on the front foot from the outset will ensure that the Canaries are not allowed a second to settle, because like most Premier League teams if Norwich dictate the pace they can pick off the oppo at will.
2 GET NORWICH PLAYING IN THE CORRIDOR OF UNCERTAINTY
Defences do not enjoy playing against teams that continually get behind the back four and force them to be looking over their shoulder. With Jerome unlikely to have recovered from the knee injury he suffered after his collision with Hart on Saturday it may mean Gayle starting alongside the rejuvenated Chamakh and Gayle’s pace may be just what is needed. If “Chammers” and Dwight can strike up an understanding with the former setting up the latter to be running through at speed we could get some joy.
3 PUNCHEON ABOVE HIS WEIGHT
I have been a critic of our Jason; during our torrid 7 match-losing spell of a few months back he was the player who attracted my frustrated ire more than any other. It was partly because he never looked like he was trying that hard and when he lost the ball, which he did with numbing regularity, he looked as though he was keener on perfecting the sulky shrug of the shoulders rather than chasing back. But against City he became like a man possessed, constantly running at defenders and keeping hold of the ball as well as shooting with some venom and accuracy. Let’s hope that performance was not a flash in the pan and he can now add consistency and courage to his game.
4 WARD AGAINST CHANGES
When our most consistent player Joel Ward, was moved into midfield from right back there was a fair amount of muttering about this ‘crazy idea’ but since a hairy first game against Newcastle, Saint Joel has begun to show his versatility. In the last couple of games he has begun to grow into the role and the defence seem to be coping pretty well without him so maybe Ward should stay in his new berth as a foil alongside skipper Jedinak. These two stalwarts make for a tough midfield core to repel attacks and start pushing us forward which brings us back to Point 1.
5 (TRASNFER) WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
As we all know New Years Eve is a chance to celebrate and reflect on past glories, but also more importantly, it provides an opportunity to look forward and improve. With the Transfer Window being prised open the rumour mill is already in full swing and the words Crouch and Peter have been bandied about but not necessarily in that order. So the current squad need to prove themselves and the pressure is on for all the players to send a New Year message along the lines of “I’m here and here is where I want to be”. Bring on 2014 and the Canaries.