Inspired Palace could yet overhaul Cardiff and Hull
Two home games, two clean sheets, two hard-fought victories. Crystal Palace fans, welcome to the world of Tony Pulis.
Despite his 22-year managerial career having been spent in charge of clubs prone to such a fate, Pulis’ record of never having been relegated as manager is well-documented. And, as the man himself will be first to admit, there are few secrets to his success.
And after only three games at the helm, the Eagles are already demonstrating the hallmarks of a Pulis side. Keep it tight at the back, cut out errors in possession, and ensure that your home ground is a place that sides will not cherish visiting.
Following their midweek victory over West Ham at Selhurst Park, the formula was repeated as fellow promoted side Cardiff made the trip to London on Saturday.
Marouane Chamakh’s second goal in five days suggests that he will be one player who may thrive under the influence of the new manager, and with Palace’s next five home fixtures being against Newcastle, Norwich, Stoke, Hull and West Brom, Pulis will be confident of being out of the bottom three come February.
Palace are now 2/1 to stay up this season, but for those eyeing up bolder odds, the 8/1 available on them finishing the season as the Premier League’s top promoted club is no longer as unfathomable a scenario as it would have been only a few weeks ago.
Following their victory over the Bluebirds on Saturday, Palace are only three points behind Malky Mackay’s inconsistent side. Cardiff have struggled for goals of late, having failed to score in their last three matches since their 2-2 home draw with Manchester United.
They now lie just one place above the relegation zone with upcoming trips to Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City in the offing in the New Year. Cardiff are 13/10 to finish as top promoted club.
Then to Hull, who look seemingly safe in 13th spot, following an impressive recent win at home to Liverpool. The truth is, however, that the victory over Brendan Rodgers’ men was their only win in their last four games, a run that includes a 1-0 home defeat by Palace.
With Steve Bruce not a stranger to post-Christmas horror runs – in his final season at Wigan his side managed only three wins from their final 18 games while his first season in charge of Sunderland saw the Black Cats go nine games without a win from February 2009 – Hull fans themselves will remember only too well the danger of burnout following a promising start to the season as a promoted side.
Under Phil Brown, the Tigers lay in fifth place in December 2008 during their last stint in the Premier League, before a run of just one win in their last 22 games saw them plummet, surviving by only one point on the last game of the season.
Another run of games without a win will therefore see the nerves creep in at the KC Stadium, and with Palace only seven points behind them, Pulis and co. will see no reason why they won’t be able to overhaul them come May.
Hull are currently 4/5 favourites to finish top of this particular “mini-league”, but should outsiders Palace continue in their current vein of form, their odds of 8/1 will surely come in as their survival chances improve.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.