Crystal Palace are currently enjoying their longest ever unbeaten run in the Premier League, (seven games) provoking the BBC to put both Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke in their team of the weekend.
Having been rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table when Roy Hodgson took charge in September, his job looked to be nothing more than damage limitation to many but in the three months that have passed since, the 70-year-old has conjured up a stunning total of 17 points from 14 Premier League fixtures, with the aforementioned Zaha at the heart of everything that’s been good about the team’s play.
After bagging his fourth goal of the campaign against Leicester last weekend, (a strike which makes him the team’s leading scorer in 2017-18) he has rightly been lauded from all corners, making him a relative lock for a place in the BBC Team of the Weekend.
For Christian Benteke, the last few weeks have been far less straightforward, with his individual display against the Foxes last weekend silencing a lot of very vocal critics through action rather than words. Following the dreadful moment which saw him snatch a last-minute penalty away from Luka Milivojevic against Bouremouth, he’s put in a shift at home to Watford without reward and worked tirelessly away to Claude Puel’s men at the weekend.
Grabbing his first Premier League goal in 14 appearances to open the scoring, the big man put his fingers in his ears as a show of defiance, before setting up Wilf to double our lead on 40 minutes. He could easily have had a second goal after the interval too, only being denied at point blank range by a star-fishing Schmeichel. It was a performance which will have given both his manager and the club’s supporters hope for the months that lie ahead, which makes a pleasant change.
Ruled out of this weekend’s trip to Swansea after picking up his fifth booking of the season at the King Power Stadium, we’re likely to give Bakary Sako the chance to score his third goal in as many appearances in his place; a switch that is far from gutting in the circumstances.
Hopefully the enforced rest will do the Belgian international the world of good, allowing him to fire on all cylinders when we welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park on the 28th of December, flanked as ever by the pace and trickery of Zaha, Townsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.