Crystal Palace’s recent form has raised concerns over the club’s future in the Premier League. Under Alan Pardew the Eagles have struggled immensely in 2016, losing 18 of their 30 top-flight fixtures, although their run to the FA Cup final papered over the cracks.
The problems that were present last term have reared their head once again in the current campaign, with the club sitting narrowly above the relegation zone after 11 matches. Pressure is gradually growing on Pardew, especially since the club invested in the transfer market over the summer.
The 50-year-old drew the ire of Newcastle supporters during his reign at St James’ Park for lacking answers when the club went on poor runs in the Premier League. Pardew will have to find a response from his Eagles outfit soon to avoid becoming the second managerial casualty in the top flight this season.
However, Pardew has been known to get on rolls before and he can still harness his side’s best, like he did in their run to the FA Cup final and early surge into the top six at the beginning of last season. As a result, backing the club at 66/1 to finish in the top six in the latest Premier League betting odds may not be a ludicrous option.
The Eagles struggled to find the back of the net last season, scoring just 39 goals in their 38 matches, with only West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa notching fewer strikes in the top flight. Connor Wickham failed to fire following his £9m move from Sunderland, netting only five times during his first season at Selhurst Park, while Dwight Gayle also struggled prompting his exit to Newcastle.
In an attempt to address their issues the club broke their transfer record to sign Christian Benteke from Liverpool. The striker has found the net just four times this season and has had endured some high-profile mistakes, especially his penalty miss against West Ham United.
However, Benteke’s goals alone have earned Palace five out of their 11 points this season due to his strikes against Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Everton, and the Belgian is more than capable of putting together a glut of goals as he did in his time with Aston Villa, which could fire Pardew’s men up the table in no time.
At the other end of the pitch there are arguably bigger problems as Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet this season, while they have conceded three goals in each of their last three contests. The Eagles’ backline has been fairly consistent for the past three campaigns, but Damien Delaney is entering the twilight of his career, while Joel Ward and Martin Kelly are not proving to be solid options at the back.
James Tomkins was signed for £10m from West Ham, but has failed to make an impact in the heart of the defence. Pardew could be pressed for further defensive reinforcements and have been linked with a move for Branislav Ivanovic, although their money could be better used on a defensive-minded midfielder as the current crop of players are all in the attacking mould.
Yohan Cabaye, James McArthur and Joe Ledley are good options in the middle of the park, but Palace are in need of a player that will break up the play and ease the pressure on their backline. The club’s ambition could be tested with a move for Morgan Schneiderlin, who is reportedly on the brink of leaving Manchester United, and would suit the mould Palace need in the midfield.
Pardew is not far away from having a good squad, but he will need to get them firing sooner rather than later to have then battling in the right area of the table rather than at the bottom.