Having completed the deadline say signing of Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea, Crystal Palace appear to have a front three that will fire them to safety, but there still remains the lack of a playmaker who can create a chance for the forwards out of nothing… or is there?
Batshuayi, should he get off the mark quickly – this looks likely, the Belgian having almost scored a great goal on his Eagles debut – will surely be the man to solve Palace’s goalscoring issues. Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham have yet to net this season and Jordan Ayew has got on the scoresheet just once in the Premier League but, if his cameo against Fulham is anything to go by, Batshuayi will be a hit at Selhurst Park.
Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend have showed this season that they can create chances for themselves and others out of nothing – see their goals against Huddersfield and Manchester City, respectively – but their jobs would surely be a lot easier if there was someone pulling the strings in centre-stage.
The Palace midfield is full of industry but none have the technique of a number 10, except Max Meyer, who has been wasting away on the bench for much of the season.
Townsend is currently the Eagles’ leading assister, with three to his name, and Max Meyer is joint-second with James McArthur, Patrick van Aanholt, James McArthur and Zaha, despite having made only nine starts and largely being deployed out of position on the left wing.
The German clearly has bags of ability and looks lively in possession, using the ball quickly and well when Palace boss Hodgson has granted him hard-to-come-by minutes but, for whatever reason, he remains bottom of the pile.
A change to a 4-2-3-1 would see Batshuayi spearhead the attack, with Zaha and Townsend in their natural roles on the flanks, while Meyer plays as a 10 and two of Palace’s tough-tacklers fill the holding-midfielder roles.
If Hodgson feels the need, he could shift Zaha up top with Batshuayi mid-game, pushing the dynamic Townsend and 23-year-old Meyer back out on the wings. There is plenty of flexibility and there is no reason why Hodgson shouldn’t give it a go, otherwise their summer signing may be looking for pastures new in the summer.
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