Losing 7-0 in a season where you are likely to stay up with relative comfort and ease is no alarming shame for Crystal Palace. It is, of course, an obvious concern, especially when there were obvious gaps in the defence; but against the best side in Europe, you sometimes just have to hold your hands up.
However, there is an even more concerning statistic for Roy Hodgson, something that is not an anomaly. Takumi Minamino’s opener and the six goals that followed it marked another game where Palace have conceded first and not recovered.
An Even More Concerning Statistic for Crystal Palace After Their 7-0 Defeat
The Record Under Hodgson
Since Roy Hodgson replaced Frank de Boer after a fateful four-game spell in 2017, the Eagles’ record after conceding first makes for grim reading, with just six wins in three-and-a-half seasons.
Four of those came in the former England manager’s first season at Selhurst Park. The last came almost a year to the day when Jordan Ayew danced and pirouetted through the West Ham United defence in injury time.
The 2018/19 season failed to see them collect a single win after falling behind, collecting just a solitary point. Last season saw Palace improve on that record slightly, winning 11 points after conceding the first goal. However, only two of those were wins, both of which came against West Ham.
The record has so far continued into this season and looks likely to remain. There have been seven games where Hodgson’s side have fallen behind so far this season – six have ended in defeat, with Jeffrey Schlupp’s close-range finish against Tottenham Hotspur saving them from despair.
Lack of Fight? Lack of Cutting Edge?
Analysing the results even further, it shows that Palace lack both fight and cutting edge.
Four of their six ‘come back’ have come against the same opponent. Stoke City were relegated at the end of the campaign, while their first win against West Ham sparked a run of just three wins for the Hammers, of which their second defeat to Palace came under.
All of those games saw Hodgson’s men score in the last five minutes. Some goals were fortunate – Mamadou Sakho was in the right place at the right time in their 2-1 home victory over, while VAR ruled in Ayew’s favour at the London Stadium. There was fight and a huge amount of spirit in all four wins.
Part of the problem for Palace is that teams know how to play against them, especially at Selhurst Park. Teams sit back and soak up the pressure, trying to keep Wilfried Zaha at bay for as long as possible, before hitting the Eagles on the counter-attack late on to seal the game. It happened against Newcastle United at the end of November and has occurred seven times over the course of the Hodgson era.
Is that a lack of cutting edge? Yes, arguably it is. Sometimes you can’t help being caught on the counter-attack, but in near enough all of those games, Palace had the chance to make the scores level.
Sometimes it is fortune, meaning it swings in their favour. This was proven against Tottenham, as Schlupp’s tap-in rewarded Palace with a deserved point.
Is Pointing to No Plan B Still the Answer?
When Wilfried Zaha is having an off day, is being nullified and surrounded by the opposition, or is simply just not having luck go his way, plan A for Palace isn’t working.
It’s the harsh reality of what has become a well-known fact around the stands of Selhurst Park. If Zaha isn’t in the line-up, there is doom and gloom.
For much of Hodgson’s tenure, that has been plan A, with little or no evidence of plan B. However, when Eberechi Eze was bought in during the transfer window, there was hope for Palace.
Despite his brilliance, Eze has not been the answer. When Zaha was self-isolating against Burnley and Newcastle, the burden fell on him and he could not produce. There was no doubt that he was one of the better players on the pitch, but there was no Zaha to make a difference.
As a result, pointing to there being no plan B is still a definite answer to Palace’s problems. Hodgson doesn’t like pointing to it, but it is a well-known truth.
Changing the Issue Even After a 7-0 Defeat
Changing the issue is a bigger task, as just how do Crystal Palace do it, especially after a 7-0 defeat? Palace were in the game at 1-0 down against the Reds on Saturday afternoon, but two quick-fire goals to make it 3-0 sealed the game for the Premier League champions.
It was a capitulation of the highest order at Selhurst Park on Saturday, and it showed that the home side has real issues when falling behind. If Hodgson isn’t worried about it, then he should be soon.
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