After picking up one point from a possible six from their opening two Premier League games of the new campaign, Crystal Palace head to Vicarage Road this evening to take on Watford in the Carabao Cup.
The Eagles were held to a goalless draw by newly-promoted Brentford last time out, a performance which offered a marked improvement on their opening-day defeat at the hands of Chelsea.
However, Patrick Vieira’s men have failed to score in their 180 minutes of top-flight action so far this season, something that will be a great concern for the new manager.
Vieira has openly admitted he’s looking to bolster his options in the final third of the pitch following the departures of Andros Townsend and Michy Batshuayi this summer, leading to several stars being linked with a move to the capital club.
But part of the solution could already be within south London. French striker Jean-Philippe Mateta arrived at Palace last January from Bundesliga outfit Mainz with a sizeable reputation following his impressive exploits at the MEWA Arena.
He bagged 27 goals and provided five assists in 71 appearances for Die Nullfünfer, earning several plaudits in the process.
“For a player with such impressive athletic potential, Jean-Philippe has a rare ability to get in behind opposition defences and beat players one-on-one,” summarised France U21 coach Sylvain Ripoll (as relayed by Bundesliga.com), who called Mateta up for the first time in October 2018. “And there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
The 24-year-old struggled to break into the starting XI under former Eagles boss Roy Hodgson, though, scoring just one goal in his seven outings during the final months of the experienced tactician’s reign.
Mateta would have been hoping for a fresh start under Vieira then, and his compatriot selected him in his first competitive starting lineup at Stamford Bridge just over a week ago.
Nevertheless, Mateta lasted just 57 minutes before being substituted and failed to come off the bench against Brentford, despite Palace struggling to create chances as they went in search of a winning goal.
Therefore, Vieira must unleash the £11.7m-rated gem in this evening’s cup encounter. Away from the spotlight of the Premier League, the pacey frontman could thrive and showcase his potential to be the striker Palace have craved over the last few years.
Adding a proven goalscorer to the club’s ranks is a priority for Vieira, but if he entrusts Mateta tonight, then he may discover one already at his disposal and if the striker can grab a goal, it will do his confidence the world of good.