Much has been made of Crystal Palace’s away form in this calendar year; their success on the road has made the rest of the Premier League take notice.
As a Palace fan, it does still baffle me how we can be so devastating away from home, and when it come to Selhurst we can have a moments of being dreary and struggle to break down stubborn defences.
I must admit our performances at home this season have been a lot better, we had chances against Manchester City, and also against Arsenal we had our moments.
At moment Palace have some pretty impressive stats in regards to their away form; they have won 10 games out of their last 13 away matches. This season the win at Watford was their third away victory in four.
And probably the most impressive stat is that Palace have taken 24 points from their last 10 away matches, better than PSG, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid – they are certainly in some heralded company.
Palace’s away speciality has certainly raised some eyebrows; but is there really a great difference in how Palace play away from home compared to when they line-up at Selhurst?
Same setup, different approach
From watching Palace over the past year, both home and away you begin to realise not a lot differs in terms of setup. Alan Pardew tends to set his side up with the same formation each week.
Pardew is a big fan of the 4-2-3-1 formation as it accommodates our attacking players really well, and you rarely see him revert away from that formation.
So when people start talking about Palace’s secret away from home, you can’t say Pardew tinkers with formation depending on different sides, because he doesn’t.
Now, I know Pardew came under pressure at Newcastle because of his reluctance to change the shape of the team when it wasn’t going to well.
At Palace he hasn’t been under that sort of pressure as he has had a great return to the club where he is so highly thought of.
Whether there will be a time when Pardew takes some stick from Palace fans about squad selection and tactics remains to be seen. But at the moment the man cannot do any wrong when setting his side up away from home.
Especially at the moment, it seems to me Palace enjoy playing away from home; maybe because they know the onus isn’t on them to be on the front foot. You have seen that a lot this year with Palace; they sucker teams in and then hit them on the counter. They did it at Chelsea to devastating effect.
One thing Pardew does do very subtly is the way he handles his tactics; Sunday was a prime example Joe Ledley starting instead of James McArthur was a shock considering the Scotsman has started the season in impressive form.
But it worked well because Ledley is more defensive minded; he has the ability to break-up attacks which worked well against a Watford side who like to focus their attentions through the middle of the attacking third.
Our ruthless aggression is more apparent away from home
It might just be me, but another thing I have noticed away from home is how CPFC tend to have an enhanced ruthless aggression to go for the kill when it is there for the taking.
On many occasions at home last season we didn’t kill a game off, despite having ample opportunities to do so this year. And so far this season we look like we are stuck in the same pattern.
If you take the City and Arsenal game for example, there were periods in those games when Palace was in the ascendency, and we just didn’t take our chances. I know they are top quality opposition, but in the Premier League the margins are so fine in a team winning or losing.
At the moment every away game Palace has you expect us at some point to have large part of the game where we dominate and create a few chances.
After last season disappointing tally at Selhurst it seems the players are more free playing away from home; maybe this year is the first since being back in the Premier League where our fans expect us to take points off of teams; but as we know it doesn’t quite work out like that in the top-flight.
It is hard to pinpoint the formula behind Palace’s away form; but one thing is for sure Pardew and co cannot rely on picking up all their points away from home.
If we are break into Europe which some pundits are suggesting we need to make sure we improve our home form; and only then can we begin to reach for the dizzying heights of the top six.