Eagles wings have been well and truly clipped in a dire 2016
- Credit: PA
This season has been about as unpredictable as they come – but surely for no club more than Crystal Palace.
The likes of Leicester, Tottenham, West Ham and Bournemouth all excelled beyond expectations over the course of the first half of the season – each to a varying degree, but the general sentiment remains.
Yet ultimately, the second half of the season has merely underlined their previous good form. It was no flash in the pan. Instead the Foxes are on course for a remarkable title, West Ham continue to push for European football and Bournemouth look to have secured their Premier League safety with weeks to spare.
What Palace would have given for the pattern to extend to their patch of south London.
If it had, then Alan Pardew's comments and attitude in December would have looked a lot healthier than the current reality.
'We've got ourselves into sixth position and we want to fight and stay there, that's really our priority. But to fight there means you have to look up and we're looking up, and that's the type of manager I am.
'We are getting the quality of 11 players on the pitch that are not too far away from some of the top teams. It's been a great Premier League, we've been a part of that, Leicester have been a bigger part.'
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The words of the Eagles manager on December 20 – the day following their 88th-minute winner at Stoke. That was the last time Palace won a Premier League match. Bizarrely, they sat in an even better position come New Year's Day – fifth, two points ahead of West Ham and just one place behind Tottenham.
By coincidence, Palace's last win came on the same day as Norwich's historic win at Old Trafford. It means for the duration of Palace's winless stint, City have fitted in runs of three wins out of four, 10 games without a victory, and now their current streak of seven points from a possible nine.
In 2016 Aston Villa have taken just eight points, as have Newcastle and Watford. Palace have taken three.
Just at a time when the Eagles thought things were going to get predictable, their Premier League season fell apart. The only question left now is what can they salvage? A run to the FA Cup semi-finals in 21 years won't cut it on its own.
Astute City fans at this point will be banging on your desks, shouting out the fact that if anyone can help Palace break their hoodoo, it's Norwich – and you know what? That's exactly the point.
City's recent record at Selhurst Park is to be frank, wretched, bordering on Craven Cottage proportions. Their last win came in May 1996 following Robert Chase's exit from the club. Since then in 14 competitive matches facing the Eagles at home, City have drawn five and lost nine, conceding 30 to their 12. That's five points out of a possible 42. And no, a pre-season friendly win thanks to a Simon Whaley goal does not deserve inclusion – especially with what happened when the competitive stuff started that term.
So in all honesty, Palace fans are probably quite relieved it's Norwich City rocking up at Selhurst Park tomorrow. They always win that one; certainly never lose. They even got a helping hand at Carrow Road on the opening day of the season, with one of the most ridiculous decisions of the entire campaign. Had Cameron Jerome's overhead kick rightly earned a draw, the two sides would now be level on points.
It's a lot of context ahead of a football match but you know what? It means nothing come Saturday. Something has to give come tomorrow, surely?
I'll let you predict that one...