Crystal Pulis began life as a Premier League entity on Saturday and were unfortunate to be defeated by a Norwich that, it could be said, made the Eagles look a very good side at times.
Whilst it’s only one game into Pulis’ reign there’s much that can already be drawn from the first 90 minutes and, yes, that does mean answering that question on everyone’s lips – are Palace the new Stoke?
For Pulis’ first game in charge he employed a 4-4-1-1 formation with Marouane Chamakh playing off the lone front man Cameron Jerome. The midfield four were particularly narrow with overlapping full-backs Dean Moxey and Joel Ward, especially, bombing forward as often as possible to provide width.
Moxey’s position was slightly further back of the two full backs and this was indicative of the fact that he is not the quickest of the two of them and constantly had to deal with Nathan Redmond at right wing and the overlapping Russell Martin at right back
Mile Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi sat slightly deeper than Barry Bannan on the left and Jason Puncheon on the right as both looked to play the ball through the middle to Chamakh and Jerome
In all honesty it’s way too early to tell if Palace will continually resort to the long ball method regularly employed by Pulis. Looking through some of Palace stats this season and stretching back to Ian Holloway’s time in charge there is little change in the amount of long balls that are attempted by Palace.
The one noticeable difference even in Pulis’ first game is the percentage of long balls that are successful. Palace were successful with 25 of their 54 long balls at Carrow Road [46 per cent success rate] and the only other game with a similar figure was Keith Millen’s first game in caretaker charge at home to Arsenal.
Above: Comparison of long ball success against Everton [37 per cent], Hull City [35 per cent] and Norwich [46 per cent]
Positioning of the players could have a lot of influence on this with both Jerome and Chamakh playing in different positions to normal and this already bearing fruit in the opening game of Pulis’ reign.
MOXEY THE NEW DELAP?
Watching the game it was interesting to see that Moxey was able to hurl a couple of throws into the areas that Rory Delap had so much success for Stoke. One instance in particular saw John Ruddy and his defenders looking worried, with the height of the front two as well as Jedinak, Danny Gabbidon and Damien Delaney likely to see this used more and more.
THE RECOVERY MAN
The hard-work employed by Chamakh will be a joy for many Palace fans given his propensity to look bored under Holloway and he topped the ball recoveries column with nine and the hard work will be something that Pulis will be pleased with already.
LESS SHOTS OFF TARGET
Of Palace’s 13 shots only three of them actually went wildly off target with eight of them blocked by the Norwich defenders and the other three on target – a marked improvement on games like the Everton one where missed chances were a real problem.
Image Credit: FourFourTwo Stats Zone App and Flickr [paddy75]