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Crystal Palace defensive analysis: why Tony Pulis is the man to help Eagles avoid the drop

Crystal Palace’s newfound solidity under Tony Pulis is a key reason for the increased optimism at Selhurst Park in recent weeks.

Crystal Palace
League position: 16th (20 points)
Goals conceded: 31 (13th)
Shots conceded per game: 13.1 (11th)
Percentage of shots conceded from outside box: 44% (13th)

Crystal Palace’s season can be split into two sections – the Ian Holloway era, from the season start until October 23rd, and now that of Tony Pulis from November 23rd until present. Keith Millen briefly took charge as caretaker boss in between.

Under Holloway, the Eagles lost all but one Premier League match, and didn’t keep a single clean sheet, conceding an average of over 2 goals a game. Millen’s month-long spell brought just the one shutout, in the club’s 0-0 draw with Everton.

Pulis has drastically changed the club’s playing style, and Palace are much narrower when not in possession, as well as leaving far less space between the lines.

That compact style makes them immensely difficult for the teams to break down – even for the best teams, and their newly impressive defence reflects that.

Under Pulis’ stewardship, the club have kept five clean sheets in eleven matches, winning each.

Four of those have been by a single goal, and Pulis’ influence in compacting Crystal Palace when defending has made them a difficult prospect to break down – and could yet see them escape the drop.

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