Crystal Palace is just three points clear of the drop zone and will have to forge ahead without its talisman, Wilfried Zaha, for the next two months.

By 90Min
February 06, 2018

The long, dark nights may be drawing to a close and thoughts of sunny Pimm's-abundant gardens may well be creeping into the mind but, for Crystal Palace, winter is only just coming.

According to South London Press, the Eagles' bedazzling talisman, Wilfried Zaha, is facing a potential eight-week absence due to a knee injury picked up in Sunday's draw with Newcastle United. His addition to the sickbay will see Palace's pile up of invalids total nine first-team players.

Of those nine players, former captain Scott Dann, top scorer Bakary Sako and England star Reuben Loftus-Cheek are all included.

Add to the mix a run of fixtures looking harder than a plank of wood, and you seem to have a recipe for relegation. In their next six matches, Palace will face four of the Premier League's top five and currently sit only three points from the drop.

Surrounding them by the danger zone are teams who have taken shocking points from Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and even Manchester City. Only seven points separate the top ten from relegation and no one, it appears, is giving up the fight.

A crisis beckons down at Selhurst Park.

We could continue in our elucidation of Palace's woes, but it's a cold February day and to do so would only encourage a spiral of depression. So, in true Monty Python style, let's look on the bright side of Roy Hodgson's life.

While Zaha may be sitting out for the next few weeks, Palace fans can take comfort in several things. Firstly, the Ivorian winger has been firing blanks of late and, after a blistering run of form, hasn't scored or assisted in six games. Perhaps a break from the action is what the 25-year-old needs. It was, after all, following a similar injury on the opening day of the season that Zaha then found his form.

Secondly, if Palace are going to be without their key man, surely the best time for this to be the case is when facing a seemingly impossible set of matches. As Palace fans have noted, picking up points against a plethora of fellow relegation-battlers as the season closes is far more important than nicking the odd surprise goal against the big boys.

Once the Eagles have made it through the upcoming spell of turbulence, their fixture list eases up a little with the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City becoming indispensable opponents.

Furthermore, we've all seen what Hodgson can do. Palace have been fielding a weakened, depleted squad for months now and Hodgson has been able to harness the abilities of those usually overlooked with the utmost effect.

Recently, the 70-year-old gaffer has utilized the once underappreciated talents of Martin Kelly, Bakary Sako and Patrick van Aanholt with impressive success. He's turned the tide for much of the Palace squad who, under his direction, have all individually come into their own.

With the latest batch of injuries, however, Hodgson will have to do it all over again. Three additions from the transfer window surely aren't enough, but if Erdal Rakip, Jarosław Jach and Alexander Sørloth can be quickly settled into the team; the Eagles will be that little bit more assured, especially with Sørloth padding up their threadbare attack. 

Defenders Mamadou Sakho and Joel Ward have returned and Palace have a solid central midfield with depth and cover in Jaïro Riedewald and Chung-yong Lee. Yes, it's clutching at straws, but what else can we say?

Tough times are certainly ahead for Crystal Palace but then they so often are. Turmoil and trouble are the order of the day most weeks down in SE25 and this rarely seems to affect things too much.

It's going to be a tough slog, but we can't wait to see what tricks Hodgson's side have up their red and blue sleeves. They're been written off before, but the Eagles keep flying. This time is no different.

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