Crystal Palace’s 2-0 win over Doncaster on Sunday ensured they progressed to the last eight of the FA Cup, with two of the most divisive Eagles players getting on the scoresheet to bag the victory for Roy Hodgson, who has guided a team into the quarter finals of the competition for just the third time in his long career in the dugout.
Jeffrey Schlupp continued his fine scoring form this season with a marauding burst forward capped off by a strike into the bottom right corner while Max Meyer nodded in Andros Townsend’s clever, headed pass to give the visitors their goals before half-time.
Schlupp’s regular inclusion in the starting XI has raised some eyebrows this season, particularly as Hodgson opts to tuck the Ghanaian into his midfield three when he has previously been utilised as a left-back or wide midfielder.
It’s highly likely I’ll go to my grave without an answer as to why our manager rates Jeffrey Schlupp above Max Meyer.
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) October 6, 2018
It’s almost like he is winding us up
— James Taylor (@MR___JT) October 6, 2018
I’m sorry but Schlupp and/or McArthur over Meyer does need some explaining, Roy.
— RedNBlueArmy.co.uk (@RedNBlueArmy1) October 6, 2018
Schlupp starting over anyone is an absolute disgrace.
— WARREN GUEST (@WARRENG39) October 6, 2018
Meanwhile Meyer, a central-midfielder by trade, has largely been deployed on the wing as the Palace boss looks to replace the creative influence lacking since Ruben Loftus-Cheek returned to Chelsea in the summer.
It is entirely understandable why Palace fans are irritated by Hodgson’s insistence to play Schlupp over Meyer – the latter has made just 10 Premier League starts since signing on a free from Schalke in August 2018 – although, now, the former England boss’ critics may begin eating their words.
Schlupp’s goal at the weekend was his fifth of the season in all competitions – his tally is now level with that of Wilfried Zaha – while his powerful drives at the defence have become typical of his game and are surely born of his instinct as a winger. The former Leicester man has proved difficult to deal with in his new role and his qualities make him comparable to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Liverpool.
The former England international was billed as a winger at Arsenal but Jurgen Klopp has converted him into a box-to-box, central midfielder and he was hugely influential in the Reds’ Champions League campaign in particular, scoring a fantastic solo goal against Manchester City on the way to the final.
Unlike the Merseyside outfit, though, pace is a commodity in the Eagles midfield and, while Schlupp is sometimes guilty of poor decision making and dodgy control, he is becoming irreplaceable at Selhurst Park.
While there is little doubt that Meyer would be a welcome addition to the starting XI on a regular basis – his passing and technical ability are unrivalled in the Palace ranks – there seems to be little room for the midfielder when Schlupp is performing the way he is.
Perhaps there is a way in for the number 7 if James McArthur continues to miss sitters – see the 1-1 draw with West Ham – but Palace look a little exposed when both Meyer and Schlupp play and Luka Milivojevic cannot be asked to anchor the midfield by himself. The Serbian is extremely consistent but his lack of pace means he is often forced into a tactical foul which will eventually cost both him and his team.
Hodgson’s perceived stubbornness in starting Schlupp ahead of Meyer may be met with outcry from the Palace faithful but, as long as the utility man continues to pop up with goals and add a different dimension to the midfield, their resistance will surely lessen as the season rolls on.
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