A week is a long time in football and Crystal Palace’s problems at the top have miraculously healed themselves in less than seven days.
This time last week, Palace were in the market for a striker, with the aim of selling Jean-Philippe Mateta and providing competition for Odsonne Edouard.
Then on Tuesday, Mateta scored a hat-trick in Palace’s 4-0 EFL Cup win at Plymouth, convincing the club to keep the Frenchman.
Palace continued to push to sign Kelechi Iheanacho from Leicester or Hugo Ekitike from Paris Saint-Germain by deadline but missed out on both.
And then on Sunday, Edouard scored a brace and Mateta provided two assists from the bench as the Eagles beat Wolves 3-2 at Selhurst Park.
After a modest tally of six and then five goals in the Premier League over the last two seasons, Edouard has already scored three in four league games this season.
Mateta, meanwhile, started the new season with eight goals in 58 Premier League games over the last two and a half seasons. For much of last season, Mateta’s performances and body language pointed to an almost certain summer exit.
But his two assists against Wolves were crucial contributions, just as his hat-trick in Plymouth convinced chairman Steve Parish and sporting director Dougie Freedman to stay rather than bow out.
“That’s why we kept him,” Hodgson said Sunday. “He has no regular playing time and would therefore have been keen to try his luck elsewhere.
“You try to find space for [squad players]. There was a place in Plymouth and there was a place here. On both occasions JP raised his hand and said, “You gave me a chance, now see what I can do.”
“He has to keep going like this, keep fighting for a place in the team and keep delivering.”
One of Hodgson’s great strengths during his previous spell at Palace was getting players to do just that: perform. In Hodgson’s four seasons between 2017 and 2021, the veteran was able to impress most players.
Despite a small first-team squad of 26 players, Palace fans can be confident that most of the regular players will deliver reliable performances every week – particularly the defenders.
Joel Ward, Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen were excellent last season and have carried this form into the new season. Tyrick Mitchell is showing signs of returning to his best in 2021-22 after underperforming last season.
After losing Wilfried Zaha, Palace’s ability to fend off interest in Eberechi Eze, Cheick Doucoure and Michael Olise will no doubt be crucial as the season progresses.
And they bought smarter than most. Jefferson Lerma was a free agent and Arsenal centre-back Rob Holding arrived for just £4m, while Dean Henderson will push Sam Johnstone for the number 1 shirt.
£26million-rated Matheus Franca is yet to make his debut as he builds up his fitness but big things are expected from the 19-year-old. And great things are expected from Palace. They started well.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/crystal-palace-odsonne-edouard-jean-philippe-mateta-b1104680.html Crystal Palace’s transfer mistake is quickly forgotten as Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta shine