FOOTBALL NERD ALISTAIR TWEEDALE
Crystal Palace are a curious side. One week they produce the upset of the season, scoring three times away to the champions, including the likely goal of the season in Andros Townsend’s thumping volley, and just days later they draw 0-0 at home to a rather more limited team in Cardiff.
Those who have watched Palace lately will recognise that level of inconsistency – and a dearth of goals on home turf – as in keeping with their season. Having played much of the
campaign without a fit centre-forward, goals have been hard to come by – midfielder and penaltytaker Luka Milovojevic has scored twice as many in the league as any teammate – and manager Roy Hodgson has made defensive solidity his priority.
One clear aim has been keep things tight at home, and that has been achieved impressively. Only Liverpool (three) and Chelsea (eight) have conceded fewer league goals at home this season than Palace’s nine, which is better than Manchester City, Arsenal and United.
However, there has been a major compromise at the other end, with Palace having scored only five goals in 10 home matches.
What is more, just three of those have come from open play, and one was a fluke, with James Mcarthur’s overhit cross against Burnley in December eluding everyone and trickling inside Joe Hart’s far post.
A lack of goals scored combined with the fact that only five of those they have conceded came in open play makes Selhurst Park the least entertaining of all top-flight grounds in this regard. No other stadium has seen fewer than 13 goals from open play this season.
The club may argue that tickets are cheaper than at other London grounds, but whatever price Palace are charging, it is hard to argue that you will find anything like value for money when it comes to entertainment at Selhurst Park.