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“Hodgson’s return fails to break the cycle” – Three things learnt from Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton

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Roy Hodgson’s return to the Premier League didn’t exactly have the desired happy ending as Southampton condemned Crystal Palace to their fifth consecutive defeat of the new campaign.

It took just eight minutes for the visitors to get their noses in front, with midfielder Steven Davis capitalising on some more weak defending to pick up the ball on the penalty spot and slot home.

Christian Benteke came closest to getting an equaliser – and Crystal Palace’s first Premier League goal of the season – when he forced Fraser Forster into a smart reflex save from just a few yards out.

But it wasn’t to be for the hosts, and Hodgson’s side remain rock bottom of the league table after becoming the first top-flight team to ever lose five consecutive games at the start of a new season.

Read below for three things that The Boot Room learnt from Southampton’s routine victory.

Where will Palace’s goals come from?

Managerial changes at a club this early in the season so often end in a quick rejuvenation, but Roy Hodgson’s arrival flattered to deceive and did very little to break Crystal Palace’s goal-scoring duck.

Yet another match in which they failed to find the back of the net now makes it 450 minutes this season without a goal, surpassing the 438 minutes that Newcastle went back in the 2005-06 season.

Despite changing the Palace set-up from Frank de Boer’s favoured 3-5-2 to a much more traditional 4-4-1-1, utilising summer arrival Ruben Loftus-Cheek in a role just behind main striker Christian Benteke, there was still a severe lack of intent and cutting edge whenever they attacked.

Too often Palace were predictable, going direct with long balls pumped up to target-man Benteke and making it easy for Southampton to deal with it, and this needs to change for any chances of survival.

Record-signing Lemina shows signs of promise

Whilst Southampton barely had to get out of second gear in their victory on Saturday afternoon, manager Mauricio Pellegrino would have no doubt been pleased with Mario Lemina’s performance.

The club-record £18.1million signing from Juventus stood head and shoulders above anybody else throughout the match, dominating the midfield battle for his side and covering every blade of glass.

The 24-year-old had a 90% passing accuracy as he controlled the tempo of his side’s play, also winning 100% of his aerial duels, making three interceptions and three clearances as he constantly repelled Palace’s attempts to get the ball up to Benteke in the air as they looked for an equaliser.

After arriving at Southampton with a reputation as a budding box-to-box midfielder he showcased his ability driving forward, completing three take-ons and having two shots on goal as well.

Whilst it’s still early days in his Premier League career, and whilst Saturday was against a weak Palace side, the control that Lemina displayed in midfield was a promising sign of things to come.

Future looks bleak at Selhurst Park

With five consecutive losses now under their belt there’s certainly no let-up for Crystal Palace throughout the course of the next month as Roy Hodgson prepares for their toughest tests yet.

Consecutive away fixtures against Manchester City and Manchester United await Palace after Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie with Huddersfield, two sides that have begun the Premier League season in rampant and destructive style, before they host Premier League champions Chelsea.

The fact that Hodgson himself has confessed that his Palace side could face an ‘even worse scenario’ after their next three matches won’t exactly fill supporters with hope ahead of the games.

Lose those three and it’ll see Palace pointless after eight matches of the season – a simply unprecedented feat – and it could give them a mountain to climb as they look to avoid relegation.

However, victories over Arsenal and Chelsea at the end of last season will give Hodgson some small hope of causing the most unlikeliest of shocks, and a result of any sort from these could kick-start their year.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha should resist move away from Selhurst Park

The Ivorian winger has been key for the Eagles this season.

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Wilfried Zaha
Photo: Getty Images

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha delivered yet another superb performance this weekend, scoring a crucial brace in Palace’s 3-2 win against Brighton.

In typical fashion, following his impressive showing, many have speculated that Zaha is far too good for this Palace team and should depart Selhurst Park in the summer.

However, Zaha should resist such urges and remain at Palace, where he will shine in the spotlight as their main man and bring top-half success to the Eagles.

The most recent rumours in the Times have linked the Ivorian with a switch to Tottenham Hotspur, but his 2013 transfer to Manchester United should prove a convincing deterrent against the move to north London.

Five years ago, Zaha swapped Palace for the allure of United, eager to become a star for the Red Devils. He signed a five-and-a-half-year deal at Old Trafford, but his time in Manchester was an abject failure.

The winger only made two league appearances for United, registering zero goals, before falling out of favour with David Moyes and being loaned out to Cardiff City. Just a season later, he was back at Crystal Palace.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

This big money debacle reveals that Zaha struggles when inserted into a situation where he is not a guaranteed starter. His game thrives off of confidence, trickery, and flair; it is no coincidence his best years have come at Palace, a club that genuinely loves and appreciates him.

And, it seems the feeling is mutual.

Zaha prominently spoke this week about his intense desire to beat Brighton and silence their supporters, illustrating the winger’s cult status and loyalty to the Eagles.

For the 25-year-old, the perfect decision would be to remain at Selhurst Park this summer. Roy Hodgson will be given funds to shape the team in his image, and could easily reproduce his success at Fulham, where he inspired the Whites to a seventh-placed finish and a Europa League final.

With Zaha leading the way as the star man, the ceiling could be the limit next season for the Eagles.

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Could Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic be the perfect man for Crystal Palace?

The Croatian striker scored twice in Juventus’ Champions League win over Real Madrid.

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Mario Mandzukic
Photo: Getty Images

31-year-old Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic turned back the clock on Wednesday night with a remarkable two-goal display against defending European champions Real Madrid.

If Crystal Palace maintain their Premier League status, then Mandzukic could prove the perfect man to solve their striker problems.

In the days leading up to the match, reports in Italian outlet Tuttosport, as referenced by Football Italia and Goal in Germanyhad linked the Croatian striker with a transfer to the Chinese Super League, claiming that Juventus were prepared to let him leave in the summer.

Yet the experienced striker has shown he still possesses the quality to perform at the highest level, evidenced by his dominating quarterfinal display. Two first-half towering headers revealed the forward’s predatory instincts, ability to latch on to crosses, and knack for powerful finishes.

A move to China, in essence still a glorified amateur league, would represent a dramatic step down for Mandzukic far too soon in his career. Only in his early 30s, the striker still has a number of productive seasons left in the tank and can adapt his game to accommodate his age.

Mario Mandzukic

His arrival at Selhurst Park would fill the gap that the Eagles have had at centre-forward for a number of years. The misfiring Christian Benteke has failed to impress this term, passing up many a golden opportunity.

Mandzukic would add a lethal touch to the multitude of crosses Roy Hodgson’s side tend to swing in, benefiting from Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha’s wicked deliveries.

Although the transfer may appear ridiculous, to begin with, Palace have a proud recent history of signing players from Europe’s top clubs. Yohan Cabaye joined from Paris Saint Germain, Mamadou Sakho and Benteke joined from Liverpool, and Jairo Riedewald was brought in from Ajax.

The acquisition of Mandzukic would be a brilliant coup for the Eagles and propel them to the upper half of the table next season.

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£28 million difference, but Crystal Palace would much prefer Glenn Murray

Christian Benteke has flopped at Crystal Palace this season, with just two goals compared to Murray’s 13 with Brighton.

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Crystal Palace suffered defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the Premier League yesterday, in what was a tight affair. A late goal from Mohamed Salah proved the difference, as Liverpool claimed a 2-1 victory. If only a former Liverpool player could have had a better day at the office, Palace might have taken all three points.

Christian Benteke’s poor form continued for the Eagles. He missed two golden opportunities to score in a game where the margins were considerably fine. The exasperation in team-mate Wilfried Zaha’s face made it clear what he felt of the Belgian’s wastefulness.

Palace fans are probably wishing they had a much less heralded and much cheaper former striker up front instead of Benteke.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – MARCH 04: Glenn Murray of Brighton and Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at Amex Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Whilst yesterday was not his best day, Glenn Murray has been outstanding for rivals Brighton and Hove Albion this season. The 34-year-old has scored 13 goals in 34 games for the Seagulls this season. Benteke meanwhile has just two in 26 – an abysmal record for a striker with his price-tag.

Palace paid a fee in the region of £32 million to bring the Belgian to Selhurst Park back in 2016, as reported by Sky Sports. A year previously Palace had sold Murray to Bournemouth in a £4 million deal, according to BBC Sport. A difference of £28 million which, quite frankly, is laughable considering the comparable seasons of the pair.

Looking back with hindsight it is easy to see that Palace should have kept hold of Murray that summer. Now back with Brighton he has been a phenomenon this season whilst Benteke, at times, has been a phantom.

during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on March 31, 2018 in London, England.

If Palace had the chance to trade them right now for the relegation run-in, make no mistake, the £32 million striker would be sent packing his bags down the M23 to Sussex.

Palace need the Belgian to start firing if they are going to survive an extremely tight looking relegation battle in the Premier League. He does not need to look far for inspiration. If Benteke can find anything near the form Murray has exhibited this campaign, then Palace will have no trouble staying up whatsoever.

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