What a strange season Crystal Palace have been having! Following a topsy turvy start which saw them fail to win until their fourth match before going on a three game winning streak, Alan Pardew was ultimately unable to do enough to save his job. Former England boss Sam Allardyce was drafted in as his replacement, charged with keeping the Eagles in the top flight for what would be their fifth consecutive season.
Big Sam did just that – as he had done at Sunderland the season before – and Palace would retain their top flight status. Despite this success, Allardyce would leave his post following the conclusion of the season, setting football aside in preference of a life of leisure. Well, a life away from the dugout at least.
So with that said, now it is time to take a look at some of the important factors in ensuring Palace remained a Premier League club. Strikers are, of course, primarily tasked with firing in the goals to ensure maximum points. But did the Eagles’ strikeforce fly or flounder?
Their most expensive striker in last season’s EuroFantasyLeague game, Christian Benteke, would prove that a worthwhile accolade as he finished top of the pile in terms of points scored as well. 49, to be exact. That was from 36 starts, and with a value of 8.50m. Those stats gave him a Price / Performance (P/P) of 6.2 – not too bad, but perhaps his valuation hampered that score just a touch.
He was indeed pivotal to Palace’s survival promise, though. 15 goals and two assits were contributed by the Belgian, and so the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker will be looking forward to pushing on and continuing his career kickstart when he takes to the field to play for new manager Frank de Boer.
Connor Wickham takes the silver for Palace’s efforts up front last season. He managed to bag himself seven points – so really a huge way behind Benteke – but with his 2.00m value his P/P was 3.0. On that front, then, he was much closer to his colleague – though still some way off. Unfortunately for the former Sunderland striker, Palace’s formation led to only one striker being deployed most of the time, and so he only managed four starts and four appearances as a sub. That actually makes his seven points quite a decent total, but it certainly doesn’t make him a decent inclusion for our fantasy managers through circumstances beyond his direct control.
Frazier Campbell was the only other Palace forward to score any points at all. Another former Sunderland face, Campbell failed to start a single game but was often implicated in the action by way of sub appearances – 12 in total. Considerably more disappointing in Campbell’s case than Whickham’s, his value was at 6.50m – and so his P/P of 1.2 really didn’t do him any favours. He scored just a single goal – in the trip to Hull in December in a match that ended 3-3 – but didn’t offer any assists.
Loic Remy was on Palace’s books for a time in the EuroFantasyLeague game, but was only at the club on loan and lasted two months (one start and four sub appearances) before sustaining an injury and returning to parent club Chelsea. His 7.00m valuation meant his selection was a real blow to the 1% of fantasy managers who put him in their squads.
The only other striker in the game for Palace last season was Sullay Kaikai, who played just 27 minutes of football. That was at Old Trafford right at the end of the season, in a match which Palace lost 2-0 – both goals coming in the last 27 minutes, while Kaikai was on the pitch.
Plenty of room for improvement in the front line at Selhurst Park, then. De Boer looks set to have his work cut out, but with news that last season loanee Mamadou Sakho could well be returning to the club on a permanent basis there is surely momentum enough to bolster his options before the season’s curtain opener. They may have to stave off Chelsea’s reported interest in Benteke if they want to avoid a major body blow, though.
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