With Christian Benteke out injured, and Alexander Sorloth and Jordan Ayew stinking out SE25 since they arrived at the club, Roy Hodgson has had to be experimental with the way in which he sets out his forward line.
The experienced boss has often preferred to start with Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha as a makeshift strike pairing, and more often than not, they haven’t proved too effective as the Eagles opt to play long to no real aerial presence.
However, their performance at Old Trafford against Manchester United on Saturday looked to be the start of a new and improved system as both players learn how to play the role more naturally.
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With Max Meyer in behind them rather than shunted out on the left, where he has struggled to get into the game for the majority of his short Palace career, there were a lot more chances created.
Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur and Cheikhou Kouyate provided the solid midfield base behind the aforementioned trio, which allowed them to be fluid in their movement and not have to track back so much.
The German, a summer arrival from Schalke, was able to pick the ball up in the number 10 role and draw United’s centre-back’s onto him as they shut down any potential shooting opportunities, which in turn allowed for a lot more space for Zaha and Townsend to roam around in.
Let it be known that the makeshift duo up top are not at fault for this system not working in the past. With Benteke up top, a player who has been up there with the best in the world for winning his aerial duels, Palace’s defenders often hoof it long to his head and then the attack goes on from there in the form of knock downs and lay offs.
If the south Londoners can carry on keeping the ball on the floor and playing intelligently with their ever impressive full-backs in Patrick van Aanholt and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, there is no reason why this system cannot thrive.
Palace looked extremely dangerous against the Red Devils and really should’ve taken all three points home with them. So long as Hodgson keeps them well drilled in possession and getting the ball to Meyer frequently, then the pacey partnership should reap the rewards of their hard graft in no time.