The release of the 2016/17 Premier League fixtures has whetted the appetite for another thrilling campaign from 13 August.
With minds shifting towards the new season, Adrian Clarke looks at where each of 20 clubs might seek to improve. Today he focuses on Crystal Palace.
I believe Alan Pardew’s men have to improve their end product to better their 15th-placed Premier League finish in 2015/16.
Last season, no player scored more than five Premier League goals for the Eagles while the club’s main assist-maker only had three.
The acquisition of a natural goalscorer has to be top of the manager’s priorities but it is not an issue that can be solved by a signing alone.
Pardew's team also need to learn how to play with purpose on the front foot, especially when the opposition opt to sit back at Selhurst Park.
Too content to give up possession, Palace were slow starters, which did not suit their style. A few tactical adjustments, though, could make Palace thrive in 2016/17.
2015/16 Premier League statistics
Teams who thrive on the break fare best when leading because it forces their opponents to come on to them.
Palace scored only 13 first-half goals last season so struggled in that sense.
But when Palace did break the deadlock, they won nine out of 14 matches, meaning it should pay off if they develop a style that is more assertive straight from kick-off.
In 2015/16, almost half (48%) of Crystal Palace’s goals stemmed from set-pieces and penalties, a figure which is way too high.
To push for a top-half finish they must be far more creative in open play and rely less on their wingers.
Crystal Palace's opening fixtures
|MW1||West Bromwich Albion (h)|
|MW2||Tottenham Hotspur (a)|
|MW3||AFC Bournemouth (h)|
|MW5||Stoke City (h)|
Crystal Palace have a great opportunity to put points on the board in the first few weeks of the forthcoming season.
West Bromwich Albion, AFC Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Sunderland feature in five of their first six contests.
Failure to take full advantage could give them trouble at a later stage.