Is this how Crystal Palace should line-up against Bournemouth?
Palace fans are feeling awfully edgy right now. Nothing new there – but regardless, Alan Pardew must be feeling the squeeze of restless fans and relentless media. The Eagles improved significantly on Saturday against Tottenham but still fell short after a late winner from Victor Wanyama
The Eagles’ next test will be a home fixture against Seasiders Bournemouth, a clash that Palace fans will be demanding a win from. Possibly what’s been most disappointing for Palace fans in the opening couple of matches has been the omission of new signings; only Andros Townsend has featured significantly so far.
An ominous yet unspoken sense of “will they ever play?” surrounds Mandanda and Tomkins as they battle for fitness. Moreover, with the addition of Cristian Benteke to the squad, Palace fans will be excited and anxious about finally seeing a top-class striker playing in the red and blue.
All this could mean a shake-up in Palace’s line-up this weekend.
Hennessey came under a lot of fire last season but has done alright in the openers. ‘Alright’, is not enough though when there is a world-class France international in the squad. As Crystal Palace look for the motivation and fire to improve this season they’re going to need a spark at the back. Hennessey doesn’t save matches and win points like Julian Speroni did for Palace countless times.
Steve Mandanda has been doing that for a while now at Marseille and for the French national team. While he didn’t start at Euro 2016 like Hennessey, Mandanda was second to none other than Hugo Lloris. Despite the fact that Hennessey and Lloris joined preseason training a week apart, Mandanda is still waiting to get first-team football. It’s unclear whether or not Pardew is waiting to utilise him at a given time or not but at this point, Mandanda has had far more than enough time to recover to full-match fitness.
The Frenchman could provide confidence at the back, something Hennessey has struggled to do, especially on corners and crosses. Both goals Palace have fallen victim to have this season have been aerial balls with no defensive presence. Hopefully Mandanda will provide that.
Ward; Tomkins; Dann; Kelly.
Once more, Pape Souare was caught slacking on defensive duties. While efficient going forward, since his signing for the Eagles, Souare has failed to prove his defensive worth on a regular basis. His marking of Victor Wanyama for Tottenham’s winner was lazy and reactive rather than proactive.
Martin Kelly is a more defensively sound option who’s shown great energy when he’s featured for Palace.
Alan Pardew should stick with the reliable Delaney-Dann partnership that has proven itself. No nonsense should be the attitude against Bournemouth and who better to convey that message than Palace’s main center-back pairing.
Townsend; Puncheon; Zaha
Enough experimentation with Chung-Yong Lee! The South Korean has proven ineffective and anonymous in Palace’s last two matches. Jason Puncheon is showing rapid development in central midfield and has proven more creative and involved than Lee. The Croydon boy’s energy and passion in a key area of the pitch could be a catalyst for a stronger performance. Puncheon has proven his worth in crunch matches, showing up big during last season in a vital home fixture against Norwich and in the FA cup final. Puncheon is a man for big occasions and his creativity and goal threat could be key.
On the wings, Zaha and Townsend are obvious choices. Both players are arguably the fittest in the squad right now, having been in preseason from the start.
The holding midfield positions go to Cabaye and Ledley. Ledley will need to be on top of his game and put out all the miles he’s got in him. An industrious performance by him will free up Yohan Cabaye to push forward and provide service to the wingers and the striker. Jedinak would have been perfect for this match and this system but sadly he has left for Villa.
Who else? Palace’s marquee signing is an exciting prospect. The Eagles will be expecting their money’s worth from the big Belgian. A performance from his Villa days will be just what the doctor ordered for Crystal Palace.
His aerial threat and clinical finishing are significantly better than Wickham’s who has been quiet in Palace’s first two matches. Palace’s more direct style of football will arguably suit Cristian Benteke better than Liverpool’s more patient approach.
Oh Benteke, be our savior!
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