Ghana forward Jordan Ayew gave a solid account of himself during the recent African Cup of Nations. He was widely regarded as the team’s best performer in Egypt but now his attention has switched back to the Premier League where Ayew and his Crystal Palace teammates face a tough year.
Ayew signed a permanent deal with Palace earlier in the window after a successful loan spell last season, but the club look like they could struggle to keep their heads above water in 2019/20. Roy Hodgson lead his team to a twelfth-place finish last term but key players have left with seemingly a lack of funds being made available by chairman Steve Parish.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has moved to Manchester United in a £50m after his breakout campaign, which leaves Palace light in the right fullback position with nobody being linked to fill that void. Gary Cahill has signed on a free transfer from Chelsea and will bring experience and leadership to the backline but he’s hardly a mobile centre back who will be covering a noticeable weakness beside him time and time again.
At the other end of the field the Eagles are not blessed with the ability to outscore their opponents either with Michy Batshuayi back with Chelsea following the end of his temporary spell.
This means the pressure to score goals will be shared between Ayew, Connor Wickham and Christian Benteke.
Benteke was once a safe bet to score goals at Premier League level but he’s not reached those heights in years – nor has he looked like getting back to it – and Wickham has undoubtedly got talent but has struggled for fitness and is never going to be prolific anyway. Of course, there is one man who hasn’t been mentioned who would lighten the load on Ayew, massively but fellow African Wilfred Zaha looks keen on leaving Selhurst Park.
Zaha has been the main threat at the club for a long time and the statistics back up that the team fail to win games without him in the side; if his departure does materialise, then it could be dark times ahead because it wouldn’t just be his goal threat that would be missed.
He’s an out ball who holds play up, terrorises opposition and wins set plays, which is an area Palace benefited from last year – captain Luka Milivojevic notched 12 goals to top score with nearly all of them from dead ball situations.
Hodgson also added Everton midfielder James McCarthy – not be confused with current midfield man James McArthur – to his squad. Meanwhile, Victor Camarasa, who spent last year at relegated Cardiff City, joined on loan. Camarasa notched five goals in 35 during his spell with the Bluebirds but none of the speculated signings are likely to be enough to replace Zaha – assuming he does in fact leave.
Palace fans might be scratching their heads how a player like Wayne Rooney can sign for Championship Derby County, when their team is crying out for creativity. The ex-Man United man reportedly expressed his desire to return home after becoming disillusioned with life in the MLS he and Ayew have contrasting styles that would suit one another well.
Given Rooney was Hodgson’s captain at international level it’s perhaps a surprise the manager never tried to make it happen.
You can expect to see Palace set up with the intention of being hard to beat and Ayew will be the driving force of their attack but it’s a big ask to do it alone and given they face all three promoted side before the end of September. It’s quite plausible that they could be deeply embroiled in a relegation battle before the season is two months old. Right now, they are not in a very favourable position in the online sportsbook. Here’s hoping Ayew can score the goals to keep them up.
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