Positive signs suggest that a Crystal Palace revival is on the cards
Crystal Palace may still be rooted to the foot of the table but there is a growing optimism around Selhurst Park following a string of improved performances. The Eagles have carved out the better goalscoring chances in each of their last 6 games but this superiority has not been reflected in the points column. Roy Hodgson’s troops have collected just 8 points so far during their 2017/18 Premier League campaign but Expected Points (xPTS) data from Understat indicates that they should have picked up 18.45 points by now, ranking them in the top half of the table.
Hodgson was quickly on the wrong side of a hiding from both Manchester clubs back in September, when he replaced Frank de Boer in the Palace hotseat but in the last 6 game rounds the ship has been well and truly steadied, with the common denominator being a 4-4-2 formation, the stigma that has been associated with Hodgson throughout his career.
While the general trend over recent years is to adopt much more flexible formations, it’s only 2 seasons since Leicester City proved that there is plenty of mileage left in the 4-4-2, pulling off their shock title triumph.
Next up for Palace are Brighton and Hove Albion in the M23 Derby and there is little to choose between the 2 sides according to our GW14 Premier League goal projections which are calculated from the latest betting lines.
Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend have been occupying the 2 forward roles but Christian Benteke was released from the bench in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Stoke City and he may well start against the Seagulls, so long as there is no adverse reaction to the knee injury that had been keeping him out of the side.
Now they say a leopard never changes its spots, so we can expect more of the same from England’s former manager at the Amex on Tuesday. The high flying Seagulls should take note, otherwise they may get their wings clipped!