THRILLING PERFORMANCE OR PATHETIC TACTICS?

The fall from grace for Alan Pardew and his Crystal Palace side has been well documented in recent weeks and the pressure on him has intensified after a wildly entertaining 5-4 defeat last week at the hands of Swansea City who have now managed to claw themselves back off the foot of the Premier League table – all coming off the back of last week’s Premier Punt article that examined who were the worst team in the Premier League. The jury’s still out on that one but it does lead us to ask…

With goals galore in the Swansea Vs. Crystal Palace game – does it make for a thrilling performance or does it just show a huge amount of tactical ineptitude?

Both Crystal Palace and Swansea are shipping an average of exactly two goals per game as they head in to game week 14 of the Premier League calendar and that level of weakness at the back has to the result of a tactical flaw somewhere. The weaknesses were there for all to see last weekend but as Crystal Palace took a 4-3 lead with just minutes to go – it looked like Pardew and his team had turned a corner and you might even have credited the Eagles with showing some character.

That character was drained minutes later as they left the field with zero points and another two goals against their goals conceded statistic. It will probably go down as one of the games of the season but will it be remembered for individual brilliance or just for calamitous defending? Or maybe a bit of both?

Both teams have a much tougher task this weekend with Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur the respective opponents of Crystal Palace and Swansea and as Fantasy Football managers we might be inclined to pile players in from Saints and Spurs – and I’d say you’d be pretty justified in doing so.

For all the attacking delights displayed by Palace and Swansea last weekend (and for Palace for most of the season) there are definitely frailties at the back. Swansea concede the fourth most amount of shots per game (15.1) than any other Premier League side, whilst Palace concede the 8th most (13.6). Compare that to Burnley who conced over 20 shots per game and it is hard to fathom how Burnley have conceded 5 less goals over the campaign – can all of that really be attributed to the brilliant goalkeeping displays of Tom Heaton?

Fundamentally, it looks like there is a mentality issue. Particularly with Crystal Palace. To be fair to Swansea they are still getting to grips with a new management style under Bob Bradley and to be fair to him, he is still testing out which is his best backline and so some defensive errors can be forgiven – on top of that – his team did show great character to snatch victory late on last weekend.

Palace on the other hand just go from low to lower – and it looks like Pardew will be on his way out if he can’t claim a win in the next two games. As much as he has been commended for his teams attacking exploits by TV pundits – the reality is that his team only sits 13th in the league for the number of shots per game – this lack of balance between the team’s attacking and defensive philosophy is costing them game after game.

Any manager under pressure should sure up defensively so it will be interesting to see what approach is taken this weekend as they entertain Southampton on Saturday afternoon – but for the sake of Palace and Pardew especially – entertainment should be put on hold and a return to tactical sense should be employed.

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