Crystal Palace's lack of attacking options has become their downfall
(Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Roy Hodgson's side looked bereft of ideas against Burnley, with the Clarets deploying a nullifying system on Wilfried Zaha and keeping top scorer, Jordan Ayew, starved of any real service throughout the game.

With Crystal Palace's squad wafer-thin, Hodgson has found it difficult to conjure up an alternative game plan when his side are struggling to find a breakthrough, and this has become a regular uncomfortable pattern in numerous games this season.

Palace have put such a great reliance on Zaha in recent years that he has become their main focal point of attack. Opposition sides double or even triple mark the Ivorian attacker, and as a consequence, Palace are deprived of real creativity going forward, leaving Hodgson's side looking destitute in the final third.

Palace have also missed Belgian striker, Christian Benteke, in recent outings; despite the fact his goal-scoring prowess seems a distant memory, Benteke's target man role is a key cog in the machine when going forward as he brings Zaha and Ayew into play.

Poor recruitment strategy

Under Hodgson's tenure, Palace's recruitment plan has been the brunt of much concern and frustration from the Eagles' faithful, with the squad having been allowed to corrode for a number of transfer windows.

Although Palace’s squad have a wide range of midfielders and defenders to choose from, the South Londoners have limited options when trying to play their hand in the attack. This often leads to Palace being very predictable when going forward and are therefore very easy to defend against.

The Eagles have a clear goal-scoring problem and are the second lowest scorers in the Premier League, having only managed 28 goals between the squad, with the bottom of the table, Norwich City the only side who have failed to find the net on fewer occasions.

Embed from Getty Images

Why let two strikers leave?

After Ben Mee opened the scoring on Monday night, Hodgson was less than inspired by his options on the bench in his attempt to salvage something from the game.

He chose to call upon midfielders, James McCarthy and Max Meyer, to change the game. While Meyer was looking positive, neither he nor McCarthy were real goal threats that shook the Burnley foundations in any way.

Palace had only one forward player on the bench for the game in academy graduate, Brandon Pierrick. Hodgson's track record of blooding youth talent is an uneasy viewing, bar the enforced debut of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, leaving Pierrick's chances of picking up playing time slim to none.

Palace do have two strikers on their books who could have provided an excellent outlet not only against Burnley, but throughout the season.

Alexander Sørloth was sent on loan to Turkish League side, Trabzonspor, at the beginning of the season, with the Norwegian international frustrated by the lack of playing time Hodgson was providing for the striker.

Sørloth has run riot since arriving in Turkey; in all competitions he has found the back of the net on 28 occasions, leaving him with the same amount of goals this season as the whole Crystal Palace squad in the Premier League.

Connor Wickham was also allowed to depart on loan to Championship side, Sheffield Wednesday, during the winter window, in a bid to see the striker return to fitness and get a string of games under his belt.

His replacement, Cenk Tosun, signed from Everton on a six-month loan, got off to a flying start for the Eagles, scoring in the 2-2 draw away to Manchester City. However, Tosun suffered a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury which would cut his loan spell short, thus limiting Palace's forward options and leaving Benteke as the only centre forward in the squad.

Embed from Getty Images

A defensive midfield

Palace's midfield has real trouble creating goal-scoring chances in matches. James McArthur is joint top of the assist charts for the club along with Wilfried Zaha, with the pair tied on three each.

The other central midfielders only have two assists between them, with Luka Milivojevic and Cheikhou Kouyate both having one assist each.

Palace have a deficiency in the fundamental creativity needed in their midfield, with the regular midfield trio of McCarthur, Milivojevic and Kouyate all being very defensive players.

It is curious that Max Meyer or previous Palace loanee, Victor Camarasa, both failed to stake their claim as consistent starters, with the Eagles midfield crying out for a touch of creativity.

The rebuild

Palace will have to address these problems during the next transfer window; the team has been allowed to fester with the squad age also becoming a real concern.

With Hodgson having potentially one year left at Selhurst Park, he should be provided with the funds to build the squad that he wants, with his magical work thus far having been built on free transfers, loan signings and the odd paid transfer here and there.

Whilst bringing down the age of the squad is the top priority, taking the weight of goal-scoring and creative pressure off Zaha's shoulders should be a very close second.

VAVEL Logo