Thursday, 25 July 2013

Five Keys To Success

It’s great to be back in the Premier League, but if we want to stay there then Holloway and the team have some work to do.

There are loads of things that will determine how well we do in the coming season but I’ve picked out just five that, in my view, will have a major influence with our current squad. Obviously we need to look to strengthen certain areas and a couple of shrewd signings may make all the difference but let’s look at what’s important with the players we have now and then hope we can bring in some new blood who give us an extra dimension.

1. Keeping the ball on the floor

  The Palace team of last season was one of the most technically gifted we’ve seen for many years. The skill of Zaha and Bolasie, the passing and vision of Garvan, Dobbie and Moritz and the complete composure and positioning of Jedinak and Murray, not to mention the energy and creativity Williams gives us. We always looked most dangerous when we kept the ball on the floor, unless it was a cross from the wings where Murray could win the header. One key to our success this year is keeping the ball on the floor and ensuring we keep possession because we can do things with the ball at our feet, even with Zaha gone. There is enough imagination and trickery to cause damage to even the best defences, especially with Campana added to the ranks. New boy Gayle looks good in the air but won’t win knock downs against Premier League defenders. We need to avoid the temptation to hopefully launch the ball towards the attackers and show enough composure and confidence on the ball to knock it around and give it to the players who can make something happen.

2. Turning Selhurst Park into a Cauldron

Home form next season will be absolutely vital - it is very rare that a promoted club will be successful unless they pick up a fair few points whilst playing at home. The odd point away to the big teams is to be celebrated, obviously, and may make the difference next May but what’s more important is that we beat the teams around us, especially at home. We showed last year that we have what it takes to beat teams at home, even if we struggle to take that form to other grounds. Only two teams secured more wins at home than us last year and we outscored everyone by at least six goals at home. We need to carry our excellent home form into the new season to give ourselves the best hope of success.

3. Score Goals

We’ve lost our top goalscorer until at least Christmas and our playmaker to United. Teams that come up often struggle to score goals – that’s why there is such a high price-tag on any proven goalscorer with Premier League pedigree. We’re all incredibly hopeful in regards to Dwight Gayle, and with good reason to be, but we can’t expect him to score a goal a game from the off. We’re going to need others to chip in, players who didn’t need to last year because Murray was in such fine form. After all, if we don’t score goals then we can’t win matches. Players that will need to step up include Dobbie, who’s shown he has an eye for goal, Williams, who we all believe has what’s needed to take the Prem by storm and Bolasie, who needs to make the right decisions. It also adds extra pressure to set pieces as we have players who naturally will draw more fouls just because of their style of play as we saw last year. We don’t want to become Stoke but we do need to make the most of these opportunities.

4. Avoid injuries
  We have a small squad. There are players who will probably be in our 25 man squad who may of us believe weren’t even good enough to make a valuable contribution in the Championship. We all remember all too well what happened last season when key players got injured, most notably Jedinak. When one or two key players get injured we often end up struggling, as most squads would, but it doesn’t look like we have really got the strength in depth to make adequate replacements at this level. The other element to this is we are likely to have quite a tired squad towards the end of the season due to the small squad size so it may be unhelpful to have a good cup run. Just look at how it has affected teams in the last year: Swansea didn’t finish well and we all know what happened with Wigan in the end. Whether we can keep the squad fit and sharp all year will be pivotal in the success of our season.

5. Get off to a good start

Confidence is a massive thing in football and getting torn apart in the first few games won’t do anything to help our season. We need to be solid at the back and show signs of promise in the final third in the first few games to keep confidence high and make the team believe they can be a success. Remember, most of the team don’t know what it’s like to play at this level against some of the best players in the world so will be trying to work out from the off whether they are good enough to compete. Holloway will be absolutely key in this and is one of his key skills but his job is made an awful lot easier if we get off to a good start and pick up a few points. There’s nothing like proving the doubters wrong and exceeding the ‘experts’ expectations for confidence.
There’s obviously a lot that will affect our success this season and I’m looking forward to it immensely but whatever happens, I’m sure it will be one to remember.

Article for The Eagles Beak written by Daniel Bright - @dbright_14

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