Talking Tactics

How Hodgson's return will change Crystal Palace

By Adrian Clarke 29 Mar 2023

Adrian Clarke outlines what new manager could do in a bid to keep Eagles in the Premier League

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Adrian Clarke looks at the impact of new managers in the relegation fight, which is the closest ever at this stage of the season, with only four points separating the bottom nine clubs.

Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)

Crystal Palace might still be searching for their first victory of 2023, but Hodgson inherits a squad with enough quality to secure Premier League safety.

Last weekend's 4-1 loss at Arsenal under Patrick McCarthy’s caretaker stewardship was a rarity.

In 20 of their 28 matches this season, Palace have conceded a maximum of one goal.

This is by some distance the most impressive figure among the teams battling it out to avoid relegation.

Matches with maximum one goal conceded
Club Matches
Crystal Palace 20
Southampton 16
Wolves 16
Everton 14
Nott'm Forest 13
Leeds 13
Leicester 13
AFC Bournemouth 12

Hodgson, renowned for his defensive organisation, takes over a side who are more than capable of staying in matches and being competitive.

He does not need to make too many changes to Palace’s solid work off the ball.

Lack of control

Under Patrick Vieira, the Eagles wanted to enjoy more possession, but they have regressed in this department.

Their average share of the ball has dropped from 50.8 per cent last season to only 43.2 per cent this campaign.

When Hodgson left Palace at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, they had an even lower share of 39.9 per cent.

So, it would be a surprise if they suddenly became possession-heavy in the closing weeks.

The relegation fight

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
12 Chelsea CHE 38 -9 44
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers WOL 38 -27 41
14 West Ham United WHU 38 -13 40
15 Bournemouth BOU 38 -34 39
16 Nottingham Forest NFO 38 -30 38
17 Everton EVE 38 -23 36
18 Leicester City LEI 38 -17 34
19 Leeds United LEE 38 -30 31
20 Southampton SOU 38 -37 25
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A team containing the individual skill of Wilfried Zaha, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise should not be struggling to create quality chances, but that is the reality.

In open play, Palace have laboured, scoring only 12 goals outside of set-pieces and penalties.

Their Expected Goals metric is also the lowest in the division.

A return to the counter-attacking style seen under Hodgson in his previous spell could be his first port of call.

Lowest attacking stats in open play 22/23
Club Expected goals Club Goals scored
Crystal Palace 15.9 Crystal Palace 12
AFC Bournemouth  16.8 Nott'm Forest 13
Everton 18.8 Southampton 13
Southampton 19.1 Everton 13

Palace’s weakest department is central midfield.

Out of possession, they do a solid enough job, but their service to the forwards must improve if the team want more goals.

We could see more of Eze, who has four goals and three assists this season, in a deeper role, or even a return for Jordan Ayew in a midfield berth.

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Hodgson’s appointment could also be good news for Jean-Philippe Mateta as he likes to have a physical presence up front.

Mateta has made only six starts this term, but Hodgson may be tempted to adopt a more direct approach.

Do not expect radical changes at Palace, but Hodgson is sure to make one or two adjustments to help restore stability.

Also in this series

Part 1: How Gracia has given Leeds width and greater control
Part 2: Positive approach paying off for Lopetegui
Part 3: Dyche's style bringing stability to Everton

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