Five away draws in a row now, Southampton, Newport, Liverpool, Juve and Rochdale. From the Old Lady to the New Pitch, undefeated but also unvictorious (?).
Next up are Palace at Selhurst Park with a Sunday lunchtime kick-off. Another draw? Very possibly.
What has been thrown into sharp relief lately is how little we can rely on our defence this season compared to the last couple of years. We’re capable of conceding goals against anyone Palace included.
Toby’s injury and apparently slow return to form hasn’t helped, neither has the erratic performances of the right backs or the attitude of Rose and the health of Wanyama but perhaps most injurious of all has been the switch to a back four from a three. Now I know it’s not as simple as that due to Dier’s role as an auxiliary centre-back but even so, things don’t feel as secure as they have done. Sanchez has done extremely well in his debut season but is occasionally jittery. On the left Davies has lifted his ceiling impressively but it’s still below the dominating level of an on form and focused Rose.
If I were Pochettino this lack of solidity would’ve been at the forefront of my mind. We gifted goals to Liverpool, Juventus and Rochdale and if we carry on playing like this we’ll get punished sooner rather than later.
After a terrific run of form Palace have gone off the boil once more and have won just two points from the last 12 available. They have an unfortunately long injury list with Wilfried Zaha being the most missed – and I believe he’s still out for the weekend. Others MIA include Puncheon, Dann, Wickham, Sako, Speroni, Loftus-Cheek and Schlupp. Ouch.
We are at virtually full strength, yet we should and will be wary going in to this game. Not only do we have a less than reliable defence, we also struggle historically to get things going at Selhurst. We won last year with a late goal and two seasons ago needed Dele’s magnificent flick up and volley to take the lead after going behind early on.
A good result, ie a win, is important due to Chelsea and Man Utd playing each other above us, it’s a good chance to put pressure on at least one of them. Liverpool are at home to West Ham, it’s unlikely that they’ll do us any favours. Given the form we’ve been collectively in, we should in theory come away with three points, to me though all is very reliant on improving that defence.
Kevin Friend is the referee.