When we played Swansea at home at the end of December, everything was rosy in the garden. Firmly ensconced in the top 5, there were even murmurings about European qualification. The goalless draw at Selhurst seemed to be a minor blip and the loss of two points was a minor irritant, not a major blow in a terrific first half of the season. Little did we know that the point gained from this match would not be added to in January and following the disappointing defeat to Bournemouth on Tuesday, the more pessimistic Palace fans are talking gloomily of the threat of being sucked into a relegation scrap.
Suffice to say the second half of the season has not started well, with five consecutive defeats leaving us marooned on 31 points seemingly for an eternity. I am not a slave to statistics but there are a couple that have worried me over the last few days, which are, as follows. Firstly, those five consecutive league defeats have been against teams we are playing a second time round, this worrying pattern needs to change soon or else we could well be sucked into the relegation vortex that swallows up unwary teams. Secondly, the Bournemouth loss was the first time since we regained our Premier League status back in 2013 that we have lost to a promoted side. That breaks a run of 13 games, unlucky for some.
Whilst Palace have been struggling, Swansea have gone in the opposite direction, having recovered their form since sacking Garry Monk, somewhat harshly many felt at the time. Not long ago the Swans were in the relegation zone and with no immediate long-term replacement for Monk they were drifting. With new manager Francesco Guidolin in place they are now heading in the right direction and have lost only two out of their last eight.
For Palace to steady the boat, there needs to be a radical shake-up in terms of confidence, form and possibly even formation. On the Palace Podcast I hosted this week, one of the guests, Chris Waters made an excellent point suggesting that maybe it was time to be bold and go for a 442 with possibly the returning Dwight Gayle partnering Emmanuel Adebayor. Alan Pardew accepts that a shake-up is required to halt this bad run and something different in the approach at the Liberty Stadium could reap much-needed dividends.
Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian. He also writes for Sabotage Times and a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines, including Five Year Plan.
The revised paperback edition of his latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Football League Play-Offs – is out now and available through usual bookshops, online & via Ockley Books – http://bit.ly/1SKsnfc.
Talking Balls! His sports quotes book, was published in September 2015 – http://amzn.to/1RjV7Lw
Follow him on twitter @rcfoster