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Crystal Palace half-term report card: Eagles are looking up

C

rystal Palace have made a bright start to the 2020/21 season, with Roy Hodgson’s Eagles entering the international break eighth in the table with 13 points from eight games.

With four wins so far, the south London club are looking solid at both ends of the pitch – and have also collected more points than Manchester United, Man City or Arsenal so far this term.

Jack Rosser assesses their start to the season…

The season so far in one word?

Palace started the season on a wave of excitement thanks to their new recruits and rather convincing wins over Southampton and Manchester United.

A strong showing against Everton was undone by a handball law which was quickly changed following that weekend, but from there things slowed a touch on the pitch. The attacking verve shown at Old Trafford was nowhere to be seen as Hodgson’s pragmatism returned.  

The weekend just gone, however, showed that pragmatism at its brilliant best, picking off Leeds when they were at their most exposed to rack up four goals for the first time since May 2019.

How is the manager doing?

Hodgson will always divide opinion among the fanbase, but once more there seems no danger of Palace being dragged into a relegation scrap. The Eagles have made a strong enough start and there appears the odd suggestion that, in what could be the final year of his management career, he may be throwing caution to the wind a touch more and letting the forwards run loose every now and then. Not too often, mind – this is Roy Hodgson.

James McArthur has once more proved Palace’s Mr. Reliable. Joel Ward has also impressed but the Scot continues to dictate and dominate in midfield, whoever partners him. There’s very little show about how McArthur conducts his business, but Palace are always worse off without him.

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McArthur: Mr Reliable

/ Getty Images )

It has been a bitter blow to Palace and Hodgson that we’ve not had a glimpse of Nathan Ferguson in a red and blue shirt yet. The youngster, pursued for well over a year before joining Palace on a free, continues to recover from the knee injury which scuppered his move in January.

It has brought about the romantic return of Nathaniel Clyne as cover, but Ferguson is the future and fans would like to see what he can do.

How are the summer signings doing?

Eberechi Eze made quite the arrival over the weekend with his stunning free-kick and pin-point corner to assist Scott Dann. The former QPR man brings a new creative dimension to Palace outside of Andros Townsend and Wilf Zaha’s potent running.

It has been a slower start for Michy Batshuayi, who is yet to score but has been denied by some narrow offside calls, while Jack Butland and Nathan Ferguson are yet to make a first team appearance.

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Eze starred against Leeds

/ Getty Images )

There will always be the nagging frustration that Hodgson should unleash Palace’s attacking talents on a more regular basis. There is some credence to that argument, but Palace fans know the most important task is staying up.

Overall half-term grade: C+


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