Profligate Crystal Palace risking relegation battle as poor finishing inhibits progress under Patrick Vieira

Profligate Crystal Palace risking relegation battle as poor finishing inhibits progress under Patrick Vieira

For Crystal Palace, a familiar failing has reared its head once more.

After his Liverpool side failed to break Palace down in Saturday night’s goalless draw at Selhurst Park, Jurgen Klopp was notably upbeat. He acknowledged Palace had been the better team.

“It was a good point,” Klopp reflected in his press conference. “I see in your eyes and in the players’ eyes that it looks like we lost the game. We didn’t.”

Perhaps they should have lost, though. Palace just didn’t make their best periods in the game pay. Jean-Philippe Mateta was signed last summer after a successful 18-month loan from German club Mainz, but since joining Palace permanently has scored just once in 23 games.

Picked to start ahead of Odsonne Edouard, Mateta squandered two glorious chances in the first half on Saturday. From a woeful Trent Alexander-Arnold back-pass, Mateta went one-on-one with Alisson but chipped the ball well wide. Then Jeffrey Schlupp crossed for Mateta to blaze over via the crossbar from two yards out.

Patrick Vieira sighed and turned away. He has been here before.

In their recent 1-1 draws with Brighton and Brentford, the Eagles again created clear-cut chances they were unable to convert.

It is well known that Palace are still searching for their first victory in 2023, and that hunt now takes them into the third month of the year. Poor finishing is inhibiting their progress.

It leaves the club looking nervously down the table at relegation strugglers like West Ham and Leeds — able to put poor form behind them and win this weekend.

In the second half, Mateta grimaced and looked towards the turf when he saw he was being replaced by Edouard. It had not been his night.

“This is one of the frustrations that we can have as a team — to create those opportunities and not to take them,” Vieira said. “Especially against Liverpool, we knew it would be difficult to create chances. We managed to do so and we didn’t take them. We have to do better.”

“I think it’s just about confidence. All of them can finish; all of them can score goals. [We must] rebuild that confidence.”

Manchester City and Arsenal are two of Palace’s next four games, but then they finish the season with a kinder run of 10 fixtures. Their strikers must dust themselves down and play their way into form. For Vieira, Wilfried Zaha’s return from injury cannot come soon enough.