With the season fast approaching its climax, Reuben Pinder examines how we should look to approach our remaining fixtures from a tactical perspective…
Palace have ten matches left to fight for survival. We can do it, of course we can, but how exactly should we go about it?
Holloway was very experimental in his selections, starting the season against Tottenham with Gayle and Dobbie as wide forwards either side of Wilbraham. If Pulis did that we’d riot. That’s because Pulis has been more consistent in his selections, creating some chemistry between our players, something non-existent under Holloway.
The January window enabled Pulis to pick up three key players in our side now: Joe Ledley, Tom Ince and Scott Dann. I think I speak on behalf of every Palace fan when I say I was relieved at the strengthening of central defence and delighted with the additions in midfield. However, it has created selection dilemmas. Does Ledley play in a midfield trio on the left of Jedinak and Dikgacoi? Or does he play in a two man pivot with Jedinak, freeing a slot for a second striker? I’m not Dikgacoi’s biggest fan, to be honest. I think the Premier League is a bit too fast for him. He was great last season but now I’d rather have Ledley, Guedioura (what happened to him?) or even O’Keefe starting instead. These players are more mobile and having better passing ranges. KG is very much a mop up and pass to Jedinak type of player. That is sometimes what we need though, admittedly.
The remaining games in which I think KG should be selected are Liverpool, City and Chelsea. We have to be realistic, the best we’ll get from those games is scraping a draw and the best way to go about that is to play two defensive midfielders, perhaps Ledley at left-back (a position we really should have strengthened) and a fast attack who might be able to score on the counter. Against Villa and Sunderland, though, a Basset-esque four-four-f*cking-two would be better. Something like the picture attached.
Ideally, Chamakh would occupy one of the forward positions and play as a target man number 10, if you will. Similar to the roles Fellaini and Cahill played at Everton. A deep striker who holds the ball up, basically. Unfortunately he will miss a few games through injury so we can’t rely on our usual tactic of plonking it on his head. His absence, however, may give Gayle the opportunities he’s been lacking since Pulis took over. I don’t understand Pulis’ reluctance to play him. He’s our best natural finisher, along with Murray. His downfall is lack of height, something Jerome and Chamakh have. If Jerome could finish he’d be deadly, but he can’t, so he’s not.
To conclude this rambling, in the harder games we have remaining, it would probably be best to play three central midfielders, giving Ledley (or whoever the third CM is) license to bomb forward when we have the ball. As for the ‘easier’ fixtures, 4-4-2 with a Murray-Gayle strike force. That’s how I’d try to keep us up, what would you do?