This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
The January transfer window of 2017 was pivotal for Crystal Palace and still is to this day.
Sam Allardyce managed to sign Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho, both of whom have worn the armband for the Eagles since arriving, whilst Jeffrey Schlupp and Patrick van Aanholt were also signed for £12m and £14m respectively.
It is the latter two who will be under the microscope today.
Much has been made of van Aanholt’s form this year. Back in March, popular Palace blog HLTCO attempted to find out just where exactly it was the Dutchman was lacking, whilst others on Twitter have been critical of his performances from the current campaign.
Luka & Wilf were having words with eqch other in the warm up, then during the first half. Let’s hope they sort it out in the half time break.
What a different Palace side out there. Creating good chances. If PVA could pass to Palace player it would be nice haha ⚽ ? ? ? #cpfc
— SelhurstUnderLights (@SiBoy74) August 31, 2019
Thought Hodgson’s set up was good today – even though we started slowly. Cahill helps move the ball quicker and Schlupp gave us energy. PVA had another poor game and we got worse after scoring. Why do we keep inviting pressure on ourselves #CPFC
— James Louis Kelley (@jameslkelley) August 31, 2019
— Luke (@SomePalaceGuy) September 4, 2019
PVA is awful these days
— Relight My Meyer (@Meyer_SZN) August 18, 2019
One player who does seem to help the former Chelsea and Sunderland man out, however, is Schlupp.
The Ghana international is able to play in a left-forward position, a left centre-midfield position or even at left-back, so when he tends to play ahead of van Aanholt, the left flank seems much safer for the goalscoring full-back to attack at will and keep opposition wingers at bay with Schlupp’s help.
The proof can be found in the Eagles’ results too.
In the first two games of the campaign, Schlupp didn’t make a start and van Aanholt struggled – his awful positioning for Sheffield United’s goal which allowed John Lundstram to tap home was glaring.
In that game against the Blades, the 29-year-old earned a 6.1 match rating from WhoScored, the worst of any player on the pitch.
However, in the two games in which Schlupp has come into the starting XI, the Netherlands international has felt comfortable enough to go forward and score a last-gasp winner at Old Trafford, and also keep a clean sheet against Aston Villa at home.
The Ghanaian has even spoken of his understanding with his teammate, so if that doesn’t support the argument, I don’t know what will.
Without Schlupp, van Aanholt seems exposed, but with the Premier League winner, he appears to be far more comfortable.