It feels like forever since my last blog before Christmas. Three games and only two points has been a disappointing return by the very high standards we have set under Alan Pardew during his year in charge at the club.
I mentioned the importance of Yannick Bolasie before the festive period and I wish I had been wrong as since his injury we have failed to score a single goal! Combined with the absence of other key forwards such as Connor Wickham, Dwight Gayle, Bakary Sako and the always influential Yohan Cabaye (to suspension), that run of games was going to be a very tough ask, as it proved.
On the bright side, let’s remember that despite the hefty defeat we still remain seven places and eight points above Chelsea.
For what it’s worth, I thought we were very good for the first half hour or so against Chelsea last week; we looked lively and had possession for good spells of the half. Unfortunately, with so many top quality players missing and with the enormous resources we faced it inevitably proved a bridge too far. It was that cutting edge we lacked that was our downfall and until we address this, I have concerns about where we will find any goals.
Ahead of the game we also saw the departure of Patrick Bamford as he cut short his loan spell. I wish him all the best and hope he goes on to replicate his best form for us wherever he ends up playing.
There can be no doubt a new striker is required, with just a single goal between our recognised forwards (including Bamford’s zero goals); even our current injury woes can’t disguise a lack of firepower up top this season. We have already been linked with countless forwards from everywhere you can imagine and the names so far have been pretty exciting! Even if they aren’t true, to be put in the frame for some of the top talent around Europe in the media just shows how we are now regarded – as European contenders.
If we are going to keep pushing for a position in the top six, then a new striker is an absolute must and for me, the more ambitious the better! If it makes the difference for a place in Europe it would surely be worth every penny (it’s so easy spending other peoples money!).
It seems unlikely, however, that any new faces will arrive ahead of this weekend's 3rd round FA Cup clash with Southampton and unless we see a return for some of our injured stars, it still seems difficult to predict a positive outcome. Then again, that is the Palace way! Before the draw I was hopeful of a special cup run to match (or better) that of 1990, now it’s hard to see us getting past the first round and it would be oh so very typical Palace if we were to pull it out the bag and go on to reach the latter stages.
Southampton away will certainly not be an easy task, our recent 1-0 victory came before our injury crisis and even without the suspended Wanyama, the Saints will never make it easy. Being positive, our record in the 3rd round since returning to the Premier league has been very good and both games so far have also been away from home. Granted last years 4-0 demolition of Dover was far from a shock (Pardew’s first game in charge, of course) but there was another positive away result the season before with a comfortable 2-0 victory at the Hawthorns over WBA.
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