Crystal Palace have been one of the comeback stories of the season so far. Roy Hodgson’s arrival at the club, after seven consecutive losses without scoring a single, spurred an extraordinary revival which now sees them 2 points clear of the relegation zone in 17th. They are by no means out of danger, but their remaining fixtures see them play Bournemouth, Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Leicester City, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. The Eagles will surely back themselves to get at least 10 points from these matches to hit the magic 40-points mark. Even though things are really tight at the foot of the table, this should be enough to ensure another season of Premier League football.
Palace have the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic. These are all individuals who have the quality to cut it in the big-time, and have delivered when it has mattered most this season. One player though, has been a huge disappointment. Striker Christian Benteke has only scored 2 Premier League goals this season, and has missed vital chances time and again. If the Belgian had been more prolific, Palace would have seen themselves placed much higher up in the table.
Yesterday, against Liverpool, with the game tied at 1-1, Benteke had two glorious opportunities within a minute where he only had the goalkeeper to beat. On both occasions, he got it horribly wrong and spooned his shots over the bar. Ultimately, his former side went home with all three points thanks to a late winner by the clinical Mohamed Salah.
Benteke signed for Palace from Liverpool in the summer of 2016 for a club record fee of £27 million, rising to £32 million with add-ons. He was top-scorer last term with 17 in all competitions, as the team finished 14th in the league. It was therefore no wonder that there were big expectations of him to kick on and improve on his showing this campaign.
Going forward, Benteke has to pull his socks up and get his old form back. At the moment, he is becoming a liability for Palace, who have found themselves in unnecessary trouble this season in the absence of a regular goalscorer. No player has hit double figures for the club this season. Right from the start of the season, the confidence that first Frank De Boer and then Hodgson showed on their main man up front hasn’t been repaid. It is unlikely that the club will splash the cash once again to bring someone else in in that position. They invested in youngster Alexander Sorloth in January, but it’s still going to be a while before the Norwegian settles into the Premier League. If goals are going to come for Palace, Benteke will be the man entrusted to get them.
Survival this season is the immediate priority. But once that is done, Palace have to focus on making sure Benteke’s barren run doesn’t continue into next season, or they will find themselves in a similar predicament once again.
Robin is a digital marketing expert and he has written this article on behalf of Boxofficeevents.com which is an authorized dealer in UK for Chelsea football tickets.