Crystal Palace receive Huddersfield this weekend at SE25 and fans will surely accept nothing less than three points from the Premier League’s punching bag, although they know that it is a game they cannot afford to take for granted.
The Eagles’ home form is down there with the worst in the league – in fact, they would be in the relegation zone if not for some great away wins. Despite the efforts of the Palace faithful, Selhurst Park is anything but a fortress and that has to change.
Ahead of the Terriers’ visit, Max Meyer has stressed the importance of getting results and scoring goals at home – two things that often evade Palace – and this weekend presents the German and his teammates with the perfect opportunity to get some form going.
Jan Siewert’s side looked certain to take a fantastic three points from the London Stadium last time out but West Ham came back from 3-1 down with just 15 minutes to go and won – a result which pretty much summarises Huddersfield’s season – so if Palace cannot get a win then there will be outrage from supporters.
How then, can the Eagles finally transform Selhurst Park into a ground worthy of its’ atmosphere?
The glaring issue from the loss to bitter rivals Brighton – aside from the individual mistakes which led to goals – was the lack of quality decision making. The Eagles a fortunate to have a top player in Wilfried Zaha that other clubs in their position could only dream of having, but sometimes the players seem to forget that they aren’t just there to give the ball to the Ivorian.
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For example, there were numerous occasions when Michy Batshuayi was making an excellent run in behind the Seagulls defence but wasn’t spotted by the man on the ball, who instead shifted it wide to Zaha. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that the Belgian striker hasn’t been there all that long, but these are professional footballers who should know when to look up for a centre-forward rather than instinctively turning and sliding it to the left wing.
When Palace are not forced into making decisions, then they tend to rely too heavily on Zaha to work opportunities out of nothing; they play on the counter on their travels, meaning they are forced to think and pass quickly, and are far better for that reason.
The sooner the Eagles realise that there are other players in their ranks who can cause damage going forward, then the sooner their home form will improve – it’s up to Roy Hodgson to make them realise that, though.