Crystal Palace Closeup: Tactics, Stats, and Roy Hodgson

Following on from the hard-fought victory over Brighton, its rather fitting that our next opponents should be the South-Coast club’s arch rivals, Crystal Palace, led by former Liverpool man, Roy Hodgson.

WHERE ARE PALACE NOW?

Brought in to steady the Palace ship following the sacking of Dutch manager Frank de Boer, after only 77 days in charge, former England manager Roy Hodgson endured a difficult return to his boyhood club, which saw him lose his opening three games in charge.

Crystal Palace v Watford FC - Premier League : News Photo

He later turned the club’s fortunes around however, to secure a safe mid-table position at 11th, setting a Premier League record for being the first club to avoid relegation having lost their opening seven games.

As the Premier League table currently stands, Palace find themselves sitting in 14th place with 22 points, four points and a place below rivals Brighton & Hove Albion, and four points from the drop zone.

Palace have matched their points total at the same stage last season with one less win but three more draws than what was achieved in the 2017/18 season.

Hodgson’s win rate of 22.72% this season is slightly worse than last term (27.27%) and his worst win ratio in club management since the Englishman’s stint at West Bromwich Albion (38.46% from his thirteen games in charge).

Roy Hodgson – A Swedish Legend

In recent years, Roy Hodgson’s football has been accused of being somewhat prehistoric. Playing with a 4-4-2 and drilling his sides to be organised at all times and restrict the space available to exploit by opposition forwards.

Hodgson first utilised this tactic to great effect in the late 70s with struggling Halmstad BK in Sweden. He switched from the usual Swedish tactic of a sweeper with three of five men in defence and man-marking to a 4-4-2 with zonal marking.

The tactical switch was deemed laughable at the time and most Swedish newspapers predicted Halmstad would be dead and buried by the end of the season.

When Halmstad went on to win the Allsvenskan, the Swedish top-flight title, for the first time in the club’s history, however, Hodgson’s critics were left dumbfounded.

Hodgson often cites the great Liverpool teams of the 70s and 80s as an influence in his style of management:

“Pass and move, always move it quickly and once you lose it get back in to position. That was the mantra which took Liverpool through their great years. I was influenced by the Liverpool team which dominated the 70s with all its great players and playing the football they played.”

Despite having managed vastly bigger clubs on the European stage, namely Italian giants Inter Milan, and Liverpool of the English Premier League, Hodgson credits the ‘water-into-wine’ job at Halmstad as his greatest achievement.

CRYSTAL PALACE TACTICS

Under Hodgson, Palace threw aside de Boer’s favoured 4-3-3 and switched to the more traditional 4-4-2, favouring compact organisation without possession and quick movement of the ball when in possession.

Palace’s recent surprise victory over Manchester City at the Etihad showcased Hodgson’s Palace set-up at its most deadly.

With a 4-5-1 formation, Palace stood in their own half and refrained from putting any kind of pressure on City’s back line. This gave the Eagles numerical superiority in a number of defensive scenarios, forcing Guardiola’s men out on the wings and into playing more crosses than normal.

Palace did ride their luck somewhat, with three goals made in three attempts, including a potential goal of the season contender from Andros Townsend.

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However, with Palace likely to replicate their set-up for the upcoming fixture against Liverpool, they will be hopeful of bringing the same clinical edge to Anfield on Saturday.

THE EAGLES MAN TO LOOK OUT FOR – ANDROS TOWNSEND

Despite Hodgson’s conservative style of football, Palace boast a range of exciting attacking options in Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend, and Max Meyer.

Crystal Palace v Cardiff City - Premier League : News Photo

With Townsend playing 1945 minutes in the Premier League so far this season, 3rd behind Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho at 1980 minutes, the Englishman is a key part of this Palace side.

“…he can’t do more than he does, which is work very hard on his game and the tactical side of the game that we work on, and to give his all, that’s all he can do. He has been an ever present since I have been here, because his work rate, his endeavour, his determination and his professionalism has been an enormous help in last season’s fight for survival, and it will be an important factor for us this season as we try to move up the table.”

– Roy Hodgson

With 3 goals and 2 assists this term (one less goal involvement than Milivojevic with 6 goals and one more than Zaha with 3 goals and 1 assist), Townsend can certainly justify the praise heaped upon him and stake a claim for Palace’s most influential player.

If the club can manage to utilise his long-range shooting on Saturday, Hodgson’s men could stand a chance against the title challengers.

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Farrell Keeling

From Brighton, living in Liverpool. Avid writer and Liverpool fan. Doing bits for FOAR.

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