Alan Pardew has now been in the Crystal Palace hotseat for 18 months, tweaking the club’s style of play somewhat from the stoic defensive unit that existed under the guidance of his Tony Pulis and Neil Warnock.
One of the most impressive areas of improvement we’ve experienced since the silver-haired 54-year-old took charge, is the potency we possess at attacking set pieces.
For years, the Eagles’ inability to find the back of the net from a corner was something of a running joke in the stands at Selhurst Park, but as the table attached at the top of this article proves, we are no longer toothless opponents when gifted a set-piece in the final third.
Last summer’s acquisition of French international midfielder Yohan Cabaye was looked upon as a significant step forward for the squad in relation to our dead ball delivery, but in truth, the former PSG man will probably have ended the previous campaign feeling a little underwhelmed by his own performances on that front.
Whilst we have struggled to find a regular scorer of direct free-kicks over the last 12 months, the aerial presence afforded to us by the likes of Scott Dann, Damien Delaney and Mile Jedinak is enough to strike fear into the hearts of any opponent regardless of their stature.
Far from a simple rough and tumble outfit, the outlet offered to us in this aspect of the game has come as nothing more than a pleasant addition to the counter-attacking style that we readily adopt from the moment a game kicks off. We may have set our stall out for everyone else to see by now, but there is a sense of belief and understanding amongst the players regarding its merits from a tactical perspective which negate any nagging concerns over a need for a dramatic overhaul.
Whilst there won’t be a sense of surprise from our supporters over how high we feature in the table of set-piece goals, there should be a degree of pride taken, given the dedication we as a club have shown in ensuring that we improve our overall record in this particular statistic over the last year or so.
The task for the next season will be to go one better than we managed this time around. I’m sure our centre-backs are already licking their lips in anticipation.