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November 29 2021 9.33am

Hodgson needs a re-think going into the final 10 games

March 11 2021

Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson

Crystal Palace’s season is in danger of fizzling out thanks to the team making the same mistakes time and time again, writes Steve Toomey.

Roy Hodgson deserves credit as Palace’s points total is the club’s best at this stage in any Premier League season.

Not since a 10th-place finish in the 2014-15 campaign have the Eagles finished in the top half of the Premier League table.

That is not looking likely this season, with the best betting sites pricing Palace a 45/1 to finish in the top 10. Equally as long are the odds to be relegated at 30/1. This season is on the road to nothingness.

Palace have had a problem with conceding goals all campaign. They have let in 47 Premier League goals from 28 matches, with only West Brom leaking more.

Hodgson argues many of those goals have come from a limited number of games, and he is partly correct. Palace have conceded three or more goals on seven occasions, including the 7-0 drubbing at home to Liverpool on December 19.

Conceding Goals At Crucial Times

Conceding goals is always a problem because it gives the team a mountain to climb. The timing of those goals is an even larger issue.

Palace have shipped in the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League fixture seven times this term. All seven of those games have ended in defeat. There is a similar story just after half-time, with eight goals let in during the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Six of those games have ended in defeat, with only the draw away at West Ham and the recent victory over Brighton seeing Palace take something from the game.

Any professional footballer or manager will tell you the opening 10 minutes and the few minutes either side of the break is crucial. Scoring or conceding here is often the difference between winning and losing.

The “10-minute curse” was there for all to see in the 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. Christian Benteke’s header levelled matters going into half-time, but Gareth Bale (49) and Harry Kane (52) put Spurs 3-1 up and effectively ended the game with almost 40 minutes still on the clock.

Scoring Goals Is An Issue

When you score as few goals as Palace – only 30 goals in 28 games and 14 games where they have failed to net – conceding at any time makes it virtually impossible to get back into the game. Shipping goals immediately after the half-time break shows a lack of organisation, which the stronger teams will always punish.

Hodgson sets his team out to play a compact, well-drilled style, hoping to keep the opposition at bay while waiting for Wilfried Zaha or Ebrechi Eze to produce a moment of magic. The narrow formation often gets exposed by teams playing overlapping full-backs.

Leaking goals is not as much of a problem if you score plenty yourself. Look at newly-promoted Leeds United who are currently one point ahead of Palace with a game in hand.

They are woeful at defending set-pieces and conceded 46 goals in 27 games, but they have scored 43 goals at the other end and cause the opposition so many problems.

Zaha has nine goals in 20 league games while Benteke only has five goals in 21 league outings. Only Eze, with three in 26 Premier League fixtures, has more than two goals.

Palace's run-in to the end of the season is one of the toughest in the division. West Brom are up next but “Big” Sam Allardyce seems to have sorted their defensive frailties out and the Baggies have only let in two goals in their last five games. They have only found the back of the next twice in those five fixtures too, but it is a tough match.

The Eagles still have to play Everton, Chelsea, Leicester, champions-elect Manchester City, Arsenal, and then Liverpool in the final game of the season. It is difficult to see us getting anything out of any of those games, especially if any score a goal either side of half-time.

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