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How Palace perform at the busiest time: analysing historic results in December

16 December 2020

It’s set to be a demanding month for Roy Hodgson’s side as the busy Christmas period is well underway.

After their resilient performance against Spurs, the Eagles can look forward to five games in the next 12 days, including the visit of champions Liverpool to Selhurst Park.

Palace travel to the London Stadium on Wednesday to face West Ham, and then to the Midlands to face Aston Villa after their meeting with Liverpool. The final fixture of the year is back in south London against Leicester City before Sheffield United travel to Selhurst Park just two days into 2021.

Palace will be encouraged by their recent festive record against Leicester – this will be the third time in the last five years that the two sides have met in December, with Palace winning both ties.

But how do the south Londoners usually cope with the busy Christmas period?

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Throughout a normal season, Palace can expect around a week between Premier League fixtures – between their first and last games in December, this falls to a game every four days. But in this particularly busy season, the Eagles will play a game every 3.1 days December 2020, from their first win v West Bromwich Albion on 6th December to the match v Leicester on 28th.

Having started the month with a bang by winning 5-1 away to West Bromwich Albion, Hodgson’s side will look to continue their historically impressive form in December.

In the last five Premier League seasons, Palace manage an average of 1.15 points per game, but in December this increases to 1.33. Although the number of goals scored rises only slightly, their defensive record improves significantly, conceding roughly a single goal per game, falling from 1.47 goals per game across the season as a whole.

With Hodgson’s squad one of the most experienced in the league, Palace are still able to raise their game when the matches come thick and fast throughout the winter.

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There have been standout performances too. Luka Milivojevic has scored almost 20% of his league goals for Palace in the month of December, and more than a quarter of Christian Benteke’s goals have come in the festive season – re-emphasised by his brace v West Brom.

With that impressive festive performance in mind, it’s time to look at three of the best Christmas victories of the past decade:

2019 – Palace 2-1 West Ham United

On a chilly Boxing Day in south London, Jordan Ayew warmed the hearts of every Palace fan by snatching victory with a sensational solo effort.

Palace had come from behind to equalise, Cheikhou Kouyate’s volley cancelling out a Robert Snodgrass opener.

But as the game looked destined for a draw, Ayew picked up the ball on the edge of the area, danced through the West Ham defence with an exquisite piece of skill and chipped the goalkeeper to send fans home happy.

“[It] was one of those wonderful individual efforts that will live long in the memory,” said Roy Hodgson after the game.

It certainly will – watch it again below:

2018 – Manchester City 2-3 Palace

Another famous December victory, and another match lit up by a spectacular goal.

After falling behind, Jeffrey Schlupp had levelled for Palace, before the ball fell to Andros Townsend on the edge of the area.

Hitting it first time from a full 30-yards out, he smashed his volley into the top corner. It was not just one of the best strikes of the Premier League season but from anywhere around the world, as the goal was nominated for FIFA’s Puskas Award, given to the best goal scored in world football that year.

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Luka Milivojevic added a third from the spot in the second-half, and despite a late Kevin De Bruyne goal, Palace took all three points back to south London.

“Today was one of those bonanza days,” said Hodgson of the Eagles’ first win at Manchester City for 28 years. Bonanza indeed.

2012 – Palace 3-0 Brighton

What could be a better Christmas present than a victory over your biggest rivals?

This festive so-called 'M23 derby' had its normal fare of drama and controversy, which began just eight minutes in when Lewis Dunk was sent off for a foul on Yannick Bolasie.

Palace took control, and scored twice before the interval, Owen Garvan adding a third from the penalty spot to seal an impressive derby day victory.

It was a win that took Palace top of the Championship and it was a sign of things to come, as they went on to win promotion that season, beating Watford in the play-off final to return to the Premier League.

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With Palace's busy December schedule well underway, make sure you know how to watch all the Christmas fixtures by clicking here. Also, remember that you can still buy the top Palace themed gifts for everyone this Christmas, by ordering before the 18:00 GMT on Thursday 17th December.

READ NEXT: Palace Preview - High-flying Hammers to test Eagles with aerial threat

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