Puncheon's penalty miss reveals bigger problems
Some players are good at things away from the football pitch. Michael Owen, for example, was a good golfer (although recently has started displaying another talent as a human cure for insomnia with his co-commentating efforts). The Brazilian great Socrates -- apart from wearing a mean headband -- was also a qualified doctor, meaning presumably he could treat his own injuries. But Jason Puncheon's terrible penalty for Palace the 2-0 loss to Tottenham this weekend proved he could be handy at a few other things.
• Report: Tottenham 2-0 Crystal Palace
Like American Football? Puncheon's seventh-minute penalty kick was sliced so badly it sailed high and wide over the Spurs' bar, but would have been a perfect conversion that any NFL kicker would have been proud of. It was so bad it barely registered on the radar infographic that usually captures where a spot kick has ended up.
It was frustrating as it would have been the perfect start to a match that the Eagles dominated early on against a wobbly looking Tottenham team but -- just like the impressive performance up at Manchester City just after Christmas -- Palace have toiled away yet come back home with nothing.
Obviously, Puncheon has been torn a new one on social media and in the mainstream media -- and fair enough as it was a penalty miss Roberto Baggio would have winced at -- but it does prove a point, which is that teams such as Palace need to take every chance that comes their way. Be it a half chance snap shot in front of goal or a massive, glaring chance like a penalty kick. Opportunities to score goals and win games are few and far between for the Eagles this season and that was one of the biggest so far. With just 13 goals to their name, the lowest in the league, Palace can't afford to throw away chance like that.
In the previous game at West Brom, the Eagles scored with one of their first few chances of the game as Dwight Gayle spun and placed a shot into the bottom corner. It proved to be the platform for Palace to go on and secure a decent win in the FA Cup -- although the three points from a league game would have been more welcome.
Goals are clearly a problem for the team at the moment, and not just goals but chances too. Not enough opportunities are being created for the forwards, and when they are, not enough are being finished off. Luis Suarez has scored 22 goals this season, nine more than Palace have managed as a whole team. Yes, he plays for a much stronger side who create bucket loads of opportunities but it does symbol the lack of quality in the Eagles side right now. I've said it before in this column; there is shed loads of passion amongst the Palace ranks, but not much genuine class.
It makes the January transfer window even more crucial and it’s imperative that Tony Pulis manages to bring in an experienced striker. He has let one go in the shape of Kevin Phillips and reportedly wants to send Gayle out on loan, so he really needs to bring in one, if not two forwards who can guarantee goals. Without them it doesn't matter how many passionate performances Palace put in -- or even clean sheets they keep -- all that is futile if they can't score goals and win matches.
Even Stoke have scored 22 goals this season and they are supposed to be just as limited as Palace when it comes to attacking and creating chances, but they have found a way to become more lethal in front of goal. Palace need to do the same.
Puncheon, meanwhile, may well have lost penalty duties after his shank at White Hart Lane, which begs the question as to why someone like Marouane Chamakh, an actual striker and Palace's top scorer, wasn't taking it but there you go. Puncheon has been fairly impressive for the Eagles in recent weeks, although often his final ball hasn't quite been accurate. (Which is a very fair assessment given his penalty!) He is reportedly on the verge of making his loan deal permanent for 2 million pounds and I can't make up my mind on whether this is a good deal or a waste of cash.
If it doesn't work out for him at Selhurst, I'm sure he could move to America and make a healthy packet in the NFL.