Crystal Palace ended last season winless in eight, with the Eagles collecting just a solitary point from a possible 24. The South London club also failed to find the net in six of those games, and as a result, they were understandably tipped for relegation by a number of pundits ahead of the restart. However, despite their hugely underwhelming conclusion to the 2019-20 campaign, Roy Hodgson’s men have enjoyed a largely positive start, taking ten points from their opening six matches.
With a number of winnable games on the horizon, Palace fans are beginning to feel reasonably optimistic about their side’s chances of avoiding a relegation scrap this season. They are currently 5/1 in the latest football betting to return to the Championship, although they look far better equipped to avoid the drop this time around.
🦅 Wilfred Zaha 🦅— FPL SW🌹T (@FPLSWOT) October 27, 2020
20-21 🆚 19-20
(per-game)#FPL points 8 vs 3.16 ⬆️
Goals 0.83 vs 0.11 ⬆️
xG 0.63 vs 0.15 ⬆️
Shots In Box 2.17 vs 1.26 ⬆️
Shots On Target 1.17 vs 0.45 ⬆️
Big Chances Created 0.33 vs 0.11 ⬆️
(via @FFH_HQ)#FPLCommunity pic.twitter.com/YT9HCYl2s6
Despite their early-season momentum, some fans are still worried about the Eagles’ lack of potency in the final third. Wilfred Zaha has done the majority of the heavy lifting so far with five goals and one assist in 540 minutes of Premier League football, however, only three other players have chipped in so far, and the club’s shot count remains one of the lowest in the top flight.
Last year, Hodgson’s men fired 376 shots during the course of the campaign with only newly-promoted Sheffield United managing fewer efforts on goal. Despite a recent upturn in results, the same pattern appears to have continued this time around. With just 46 shots in their opening six games, they are currently managing fewer than eight efforts per match, however, their level of efficiency has noticeably increased with around 43% of these attempts finding the back of the net.
Despite these low numbers, the South Londoners looked far livelier in front of goal during their 2-1 victory over Fulham. They ended the game with ten shots on target, their highest total in an away fixture since August 2018. Hodgson was full of praise for his side and was keen to highlight the progress that has been made over the last couple of months. He credited the work ethic within the squad, whilst also pointing out that this summer’s additions have given Palace a far greater strength in depth.
Although he is yet to get off the mark, returning loanee Michy Batshuayi appears to be slowly finding his feet at Selhurst Park, and he has struck up a good understanding with the prolific Zaha. Andros Townsend is a virtual ever-present in the side and provides some vital experience on the right-hand side. Eberechi Eze is likely to get better over time, whilst Jairo Riedewald put in his best performance in a Palace shirt at Craven Cottage on October 24th.
The Eagles may not be producing countless opportunities on a weekly basis, yet they are still finding a way to win games. Statistics are an extremely handy tool to measure a side’s progress, although there will always be anomalies. Palace appear to be bucking the trend this season and despite their low shot count, they are more than holding their own in the top flight. Hodgson’s side have already won twice on the road, and they are unlikely to lose many matches this season. They may be shot-shy, but they are picking up points and continuing to defying the data.