Monday November 28th, 2016

Buckingham is not the only Palace in London in need of renovation.

Crystal Palace is in free fall in the Premier League, and its latest defeat, the sixth in a row, was as astonishing as it was welcome for Swansea’s American coach Bob Bradley. Swansea was 3-1 up and seemingly coasting before Palace came back, going 4-3 ahead with six minutes left to play. In the final three minutes, substitute forward Fernando Llorente scored twice to secure a 5-4 win and leave Palace stunned.

Palace coach Alan Pardew was furious last week after Manchester City somehow scored a winning goal from a set piece that found Yaya Toure unmarked inside the six-yard box. He vowed that his team must improve its defense, and especially from set pieces. The result? Four of the goals Palace conceded to Swansea were from set pieces. Thirteen of its 26 goals conceded in the league have come from such plays. The club's last clean sheet came 18 games ago.

It all makes grim reading for Pardew, whose next four opponents are Southampton, Hull, Manchester United and Chelsea.

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Top four start pulling away; Bradley gets first win; more EPL notes

No team in England’s four leagues has won fewer points in 2016 than Palace. Based on talent alone, this is among the best squads in Palace history: it was less than 12 months ago that co-owner Steve Parish claimed he would not stand in Pardew’s way if Real Madrid wanted him. Earlier this season, Pardew gave interviews talking himself up for the England job. It’s ironic, then, that the two names linked with replacing him have been England’s last two coaches, Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce (both of whom have experience when it comes to fighting relegation).

There has been a notable pattern in Pardew’s managerial career. The first 18 months go very well, and then comes a dramatic dip that he cannot (or does not get the chance to) turn around. The question for Parish, and his American co-owners, is whether that moment has come already. 

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