Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace - 6 Things We Learned
6. Running On Empty
When Palace kicked off their league campaign against Norwich, I remarked that Palace's squad has never looked so strong. And I think I was right, it hadn't. Yet, here we are at the turn of the year with a squad that is seriously running on empty. Jason Puncheon, a shining light of their previous campaign has been a shadow of his former self and the game on Tuesday night was the nadir of his season. He gave the ball away consistently and never looked like he had the energy to get up and down the pitch and can you blame him? He has started every league game this season and has completed 90 minutes in two thirds of those. He is knackered. Wilfried Zaha has only missed one league game this season through suspension this season and, since that game at Everton, has completed 90 minutes in five of the six games since (coming off as a substitute with less than ten minutes to go in the other). This trend can be seen all over the first team with Scott Dann playing every minute of every game since he missed the Spurs defeat in September and the likes of James McArthur, Joel Ward and Pape Souré getting no respite over the busy Christmas period. Football is a squad game and the likes of Jordan Mutch, Lee Chung-yong, Jonny Williams and Martin Kelly will need game time to allow the first team zombies a chance to rest. Luckily Palace have Manchester City up next so I'm sure Pardew will be resting players.