Crystal Palace Have a Christmas to Forget: Five Things We Learned

Written by Robert Sutherland

Crystal Palace collected just a point from a busy Christmas period and, as a result, are now staring a relegation battle in the face. Here are five things Robert Sutherland learned. 

Zaha Bournemouth

A Perfect Storm Blew In to Selhurst 

Take twelve months of awful home performances, an injury-ravaged squad, a lack of quality in depth, an opponent with 24 hours more rest, and the most intense week of football this season, and you have a storm so perfect that even the most competent of managers - whether Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce - would have had difficulty to get something from this game. 
On an individual level, you can pick each of these issues and make an argument that the manager is to blame, that the former manager is to blame, that the players are to blame, that the fans are to blame, that the chairman is to blame -- but yesterday's match, and the Christmas period on the whole, has been the result of all of these factors coming together at once. You can blame each of these things individually but yesterday's match was the sum of all of these parts. 

This isn't a mess of Allardyce's Making

It can't be. The transfers aren't his. The injuries didn't happen under his watch. The defence has been abject for more than the last week, and he's had just a week and a half to try and make sense of Palace's precarious position. 
If there's a positive to take, it's that this position has been made all the more clear by the result against Swansea. The club - from top to bottom - now know what is required. The reaction to this result is what matters most. 

Toothless Townsend is a Real Problem 

It should now be crystal clear to Sam Allardyce that Andros Townsend is not worthy of a spot on the right side of Palace's attack, not when Wilfried Zaha is so much more effective in that position. 
Townsend is, on current form, a one trick pony that opponents have sussed out. He gets the ball, he cuts inside, he shoots or crosses. Stop him from cutting inside -- force him out on to his right foot -- and you negate whatever threat he provides. 
It's no surprise that he was substituted just after half time, and it's a damning indictment that Bakary Sako looked a greater threat when he came on. 

We will miss Wilf 

We will miss him so very much. In a repeat of last season, Wilfried Zaha has been the only highlight of Palace's poor form. 
While he struggled in the first half, he showed just how great a threat he could be when played on the right. He made Neil Taylor and then Kyle Naughton's nights very difficult ones. 
His goal, another example of his enigmatic brilliance, was indicative of how he's developed as a person and a player. He took the pressure of last night and allowed it to lift him up. He showed focus and determination at a point where others appeared to wilt. That's the sign of a quality player. And a reminder to the FA and England's successive managers of just how idiotic they were to ignore him. 

Transfer Window Needs More than Three

Christian Benteke is injured. James McArthur is injured. Pape Souare is injured. Our defence hasn't been stable all season, with Scott Dann, James Tomkins and Damien Delaney all taking time out of the side through injury. And now Zaha and Sako are off to the African Cup of Nations. Allardyce says we need two or three. We need more. 
Palace failed to replace Mile Jedinak when they sold him. Whether it was time for him to go is arguable -- the failure to replace him was unforgivable. They need to supplement the squad in every single position, but it's clear that Allardyce will need to pick and choose the positions he feels will need it most. 
If Palace are to have a fighting chance, four players should be signed as a minimum. Allardyce should start from the back and build forward, starting this week. It's imperative.