Home Sport Crystal Palace may not be playing the prettiest football under Roy Hodgson...

Crystal Palace may not be playing the prettiest football under Roy Hodgson but it is doing the job


Crystal Palace may not be playing the prettiest football under Hodgson… but his task this season is to keep his side in the Premier League and right now ‘Roy-ball’ is doing the job

  • Crystal Palace are winning matches, thanks to their use of ‘Roy-ball’ in games
  • It’s not the easiest on the eye or worth £14.95 to watch, but it is proving effective 
  • Roy Hodgson, 33 years Scott Parker’s elder, taught the young pretender a lesson
  • Fulham passed and passed and passed but none pierced Palace and their block 

The fewest passes of any team after six rounds of Premier League matches, the least possession, and they doubled their shots on target for the season on Saturday alone.

And yet, Crystal Palace are winning matches, thanks to their use of ‘Roy-ball’. It’s not the easiest on the eye, and maybe not worth £14.95 to watch, but it’s effective.

Roy Hodgson, 33 years Scott Parker’s elder, taught the young pretender a lesson with a structured 4-4-2 system that is designed to block your route to goal.

Crystal Palace 's football is not the easiest on the eye but showed at Fulham it is effective

Crystal Palace ‘s football is not the easiest on the eye but showed at Fulham it is effective

Roy Hodgson, 33 years older than Fulham's Scott Parker, taught the young pretender a lesson

Roy Hodgson, 33 years older than Fulham’s Scott Parker, taught the young pretender a lesson 

Fulham passed and passed and passed but none pierced Palace. With as many as 10 players in front of them, they often looked sideways and out of ideas.

On the odd occasion Fulham did break the lines, if they didn’t pounce, it wasn’t long before they were facing the Palace block again.

Hodgson’s players are drilled to drop and create a barrier — with the exception of Wilfried Zaha, who has freedom up front. Now being used as a striker alongside Michy Batshuayi rather than on the wing, Zaha has already scored more Premier League goals this season than he did last.

Wilfried Zaha has already scored more Premier League goals this season than he did last

Wilfried Zaha has already scored more Premier League goals this season than he did last

Whenever Palace won the ball, they knew Zaha would be ready to run behind the opposition back-line, and that was how their opening goal came. He sprinted into space, won his one-v-one with Ola Aina, and tested Alphonse Areola. 

Seconds later, Zaha had the ball back and was playing a reverse pass into Jairo Riedewald, who scored. This came in the eighth minute, when Palace had seen around five per cent of the ball.

Zaha later scored his fifth goal of the campaign, sliding in at the back post to meet Batshuayi’s cross. Hodgson is getting the best out of Zaha, the 27-year-old who wanted to leave in the last window.

The scoreline suggests this was close, but only a Tom Cairney 30-yard thunderbolt deep into stoppage time made it seem so. Fulham ended the game with 10 men, too, with Aboubakar Kamara shown red for raking his studs down Eberechi Eze’s leg.

Zaha played a reverse pass into Jairo Riedewald, who scored Palace's opening goal at Fulham

Zaha played a reverse pass into Jairo Riedewald, who scored Palace’s opening goal at Fulham

Parker has now overseen five defeats and a draw following promotion and the pressure is on.

Watching Hodgson conduct his post-match interviews pitch-side while an assistant held an umbrella over him, you got the sense this is no wally with a brolly. His players are well-drilled in the art of defending. 

Whether it be Riedewald and Luka Milivojevic as it was here, or James McArthur and James McCarthy as it was at Old Trafford last month, Palace’s midfielders build a solid barricade.

Hodgson’s task at the start of this season was to keep Palace in the Premier League. It may not be the prettiest, but ‘Roy-ball’ is doing that.

A Tom Cairney 30-yard thunderbolt deep into stoppage time made it seem that it was close

A Tom Cairney 30-yard thunderbolt deep into stoppage time made it seem that it was close



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