Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace: Dan Cook reveals defensive concerns

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Dan Cook has been speaking on the HLTCO podcast about Crystal Palace’s recurring defensive problems.

Crystal Palace have enjoyed a solid start to life under Patrick Vieira having only lost to Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League this season and having the joint-third-lowest expected goals against (xGA) total in the entire league, only bettered by Manchester City and Chelsea (as per FBRef).

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So, given their strong defensive numbers, it may have come as somewhat of a surprise to Palace fans and Vieira to see them ship three goals against Burnley last weekend, though Cook believes that it is down to their inability to defend set-pieces successfully and their apparent lack of physicality compared to other teams.

Cook spoke about this area of Palace’s defending which needs to improve.

“At least you can work out defensive issues – of course, you would hope that by late November, those little problems would have been identified and sorted on the training pitch, but that clearly hasn’t been the case.

“I do worry a little bit about our physical presence as a back four – Tyrick Mitchell is not exactly imposing from a physical perspective; Marc Guehi, for all of his technical brilliance, is not a big centre-back.

“Of course, Joachim Andersen is pretty decent in the air, but Joel Ward is not someone renowned for his aerial talents, either, so it does lead to problems in the defensive third when you have players like your Chris Woods sniffing around in the penalty area.”

TIF Thoughts on Palace’s defending…

Cook’s claim that Palace are struggling from set-pieces is definitely true as they have conceded 17 goals in the league this season, with nine of those coming via set plays, so there is an obvious weakness that teams are targeting when they face Vieira’s side.

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Selhurst Park, Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace

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Palace are currently occupying a spot inside the top half of the Premier League and seven points above the relegation zone, so this issue shouldn’t be too alarming.

However, it’s not just defending set-pieces that appears to be an issue, as the Eagles are being bullied in the opposition’s box, too, having only scored once from their own dead-ball situations. And considering they have someone like Christian Benteke, who has scored the second-most headed goals in the Premier League, they should be utilising that a lot more.

In other news: ‘A step in the right direction’ – Dan Cook buzzing as ‘positive’ CPFC images emerge

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