Jason Puncheon has become a vital cog in Crystal Palace’s midfield since joining the club back in 2013, occupying the role of the team’s playmaker with aplomb throughout his time with us.
Since convincing Yohan Cabaye to join the Eagles at the beginning of last season, Alan Pardew (a self-confessed fan of Puncheon’s from their time together at Southampton) has had a dilemma on his hands with regard to the structure and selection policy of Palace’s starting midfield.
Happy to use Zaha and another out and out wide man on the flanks, it’s become clear that Pardew prefers to utilise Puncheon’s specific skill set in the centre of the park but with the likes of James McArthur and more pertinently Yohan Cabaye always amongst the first names on the team sheet, it has proven difficult for the manager to strike upon a system which accommodates all of the aforementioned personalities.
This unique issue reared its head most combustibly on the day of last season’s FA Cup Final, when Pardew opted to leave Puncheon on the bench at kick-off, playing Cabaye in his place. Of course, we all know now that Jason would come off the bench and fire the team into a late lead before indulging in a rather provocative celebration aimed in Pardew’s direction, fuelling rumours of discontent behind the scenes.
Given the similarities between Puncheon and Yohan, the debate over their selection has continued to rage on into the current campaign, with many suggesting that a key factor in our recent 3-0 triumph over Southampton was the absence of the aforementioned Frenchman thanks to a suspension he was forced to serve.
Of course, Puncheon’s status as “one of our own” will help him to win the sentimental vote within our fan-base but even without that, his game is one which is often underestimated by neutral fans and pundits alike; a statement backed up perfectly by the standard of players he sits above in the league table of the top flight’s most creative talents featured at the top of this article.
No player has assisted more Premier League goals in Crystal Palace’s history than Jason Puncheon, a statistic he will rightly be immensely proud of. We can be almost certain of him adding to that tally between now and the end of the season too, no doubt adding to the headache Pardew already has over where best to play him.