The improvement Crystal Palace made under Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew, either side of a sticky spell with Neil Warnock, has helped to quickly establish them as Premier League staples.
Their position of ninth in the betting, at odds of 13/2, to be relegated this season shows how rapidly the London outfit have established themselves in the top-flight, after just two seasons back there.
It is that stability, as well as a previous working relationship with their manager, that has helped them land their one and only signing so far this summer.
Yes, Yohan Cabaye was probably attracted to the proposition of playing at Selhurst Park this term by the presence of Pardew, who helped him enjoy some of the finer moments of his career while playing for Newcastle.
However, it’s unlikely the Paris Saint-Germain outcast would have traded his capital city for England’s, Pardew or no Pardew, if the Eagles were set to be embroiled in a relegation scrap.
Not only is the Cabaye capture a sign of the growing stature the Eagles can boast, but it’s a clear indication that their silver fox manager is acutely aware of the one area that the club need to advance.
Last term, Palace were the worst side in the top flight as far as ball retention was concerned. They held an overall possession percentage of just 38.7 and were the only team in the division to fall below the 40 mark in that category.
With the pace of Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon to call on in the final third of the pitch, the temptation to play on the counter attack is obvious and perhaps explains such a low possession figure. However, the arrival of Cabaye shows that Pardew wants other options at his disposal this season, with the Frenchman’s passing ability a clear move to improve Palace in possession.
The former Magpie won’t be able to drag that figure up on his own, though, so another, more cost-effective signing may be required at Selhurst Park.
One ideal option in that department involves a call to a local rival.
Tottenham Hotspur have embarked in a belated spring-clean of their midfield. Paulinho and Etienne Capoue have both already left the club, with rumours that Benjamin Stambouli could be close to following them, possibly to fill the gap left at PSG by Cabaye.
But it is one, perhaps rather forgotten name that Pardew should enquire about. Tom Carroll spent last season on loan at Swansea and, although he never became a regular in Garry Monk’s outfit, he still managed to impress.
Brought in as a youngster skilled in passing the ball, Carroll adapted quickly and notably to Swansea’s love of possession.
In his 13 appearances for the Welsh outfit in the Premier League, Carroll was able to complete 88.3 percent of his attempted passes. That was a mark that put him inside the top 20 of midfielders to have made 10 or more appearances in the competition and bettered, by some distance, Joe Ledley’s team-high mark of 79.4 percent for Palace.
Although the 23-year-old’s name hasn’t been mentioned in the White Hart Lane middle-band firesale, it’s hard to see him getting a regular gig in north London with Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Mousa Dembele all ahead of him. Another loan move to Palace could well be best for all parties.
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