Crystal Palace: Do they have enough striker depth to succeed this season?
Roy Hodgson’s men got off to the perfect start on Saturday, but are there still question marks over his team going forward?
It was a marvellous victory for Crystal Palace at the weekend as they comfortably got past newly promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage.
A 2-0 victory was deserved for the visitors as Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha got on the scoresheet.
Palace were exactly what you would expect from an experienced Premier League side with an experienced manager. They were defensively resolute and measured in their attacks.
It was the perfect away performance and something for Palace fans to get very excited about.
But there was one cause for concern for Hodgson’s men and it was something that plagued them last season. Do they have a striker capable of netting ten goals?
Luka Milivojević was their top scorer last season as he netted ten goals from midfield, an impressive return for the Serbian. After him, Wilfried Zaha netted nine goals, James McArthur netted seven, Bakary Sako scored six and Patrick van Aanholt scored five.
The highest scoring striker? Christian Benteke with a paltry three. Just three goals in 31 Premier League games. While Benteke, of course, has other qualities, it is hard not to be concerned by his poor scoring record last season.
Alexander Sorloth came in January for £9 million but he was restricted to just four games and did not net in any of them.
Connor Wickham was still recovering from his injury and did not even feature though he should be back this season to hopefully resurrect his career.
This summer, the club brought in four players but none of them are out-and-out strikers. Could Palace fans be forgiven for thinking that they have been left short up front?
Fortunately, Palace can rely on some of their attacking players like Zaha, Townsend and new signing Jordan Ayew can play as a striker even if it is not their best position.
Zaha, in particular, could have a spectacular season if he is given the chance to flourish in a more advanced and central striking role. He showed on Saturday his finishing instincts and his potential partnership with Benteke as both worked together wonderfully.
Benteke can do the physical work and give Zaha the chance to play off him. In theory, the two should be a match made in heaven, and in practise, they were just that on Saturday.
The worry for Palace is if either of Zaha or Benteke get injured then they will be desperately short of options at the top end of the pitch.
Wickham has had a torrid time of injuries since he moved to Palace from Sunderland, and even when he has been fit his scoring record is average at best.
Sorloth was brought in during the January window but has failed to stamp his place on the side even with Benteke’s poor form last season.
Jordan Ayew is a potential wildcard for Palace, but he has yet to prove during his career as a Premier League player that he is capable of producing regularly at this level.
Goals are the hardest thing to come by in the top flight, and Palace are playing a dangerous game of relying on Zaha to adapt to the new role and Benteke to find the form that he has been sorely lacking since he moved to Selhurst Park.
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