The Crystal (Palace) Maze!

By on January 14, 2017

The cult classic British hit TV show ‘The Crystal Maze’ is being brought back for a new 20-episode series by Channel 4, but the team challenge program is not the most difficult Crystal Maze to solve in 2017. Sam Allardyce would most likely have wanted to swap jobs with new host Richard Ayoade, as the new Crystal Palace boss was tasked with securing the precious Premier League ticket, but recent form has left him trapped in a relegation battling maze. There is a massive financial incentive on offer for avoiding a bottom three lock-in, with winning games the only way to receive points and prizes. Ayoade is best known for comedy, but the Eagles’ form in the past twelve months have been no joke! Allardyce may need the advice of former England captain Rio Ferdinand for help in solving one almighty Crystal Maze, but don’t be surprised to see a plethora of recruits coming in to revive the South Londoners fortunes.

Palace have not improved their form since the South London side swapped Alan Pardew for the former England manager’s services, as the Selhurst Park team have not won in four league games since Allardyce came in. The Eagles sit fourth from bottom, level on 16 points with Hull. They also only managed an underwhelming draw with League One Bolton in the FA Cup last weekend, meaning they have an unwanted replay coming up. Further unwelcome news is that record signing striker Christian Benteke has been linked with a move this January (to China, where else?), but the club have signed Ghana winger Jeffery Schlupp from Leicester for £12 million. Schlupp will fill in while Wilfried Zaha is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, having switched allegiance from England to play at the Gabon tournament.

Handy Andy leaves old boss with another loss!

The latest defeat was a derby day destruction at the hands of London rivals West Ham, with the Hammers possessing a player more expensive than a crystal in Andy Carroll, who was able to create some good memories at the East London side’s new Dome… I mean Home! The former England forward produced the best moment so far for West Ham fans at the London Stadium with an incredible overhead kick strike in a 3-0 victory over Palace. It was Allardyce who first brought Carroll to the Hammers for £15million, but now it is Slaven Bilic receiving the benefits of the former Liverpool and Newcastle forward.

It is fair to say the January Goal of the Month competition in the Premier League is likely to see Scorpion vs. Overhead, as Olivier Giroud’s New Year’s Day finish for Arsenal, ironically, also against struggling Palace, will go up against Carroll’s volley. Even though injury-plagued Carroll’s overhead kick brought back memories of joint all-time top Manchester United scorer Wayne Rooney’s goal in the 2011 Manchester derby victory, I would go for Giroud’s Emirates effort, as scorpions are rarer in England. The French Arsenal forward has also scored in every game he has played in during 2017 and has bagged in five successive matches for the Gunners.

The sensational finish from the Geordie giant is a far cry from the 5-0 home defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup just eight days beforehand and finally christens West Ham’s new stadium with something positive. Carroll’s great goal was not the only skilful strike in the 3-0 win, as Argentine midfielder Manuel Lanzini dinked an effort over Wayne Hennessey fellow countryman Lionel Messi would be proud of. All three of the goals were assisted by in-form Michail Antonio, as Sofiane Feghouli got the opener, showing the club do not even need want-away French midfielder Dimitri Payet to perform. 29-year-old Payet refused to play in the Crystal Palace encounter, as he desires a move this window, with former club Marseille already having a £19.1million bid turned down by the Hammers. Payet was not the only man making headlines without even pulling a jersey on, as Chelsea’s top scorer Diego Costa was missing from their squad for the 3-0 win over Leicester. I don’t think legendary Watford manager Graham Taylor would put up with the behavior of the professional players these days, with the former England boss of the early 1990s passing away at the age of 72 this week.

Homepage photo credit: Egghead06 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

About Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis can relate almost anything to football and quite often does! You may have seen Richard's previous ideas and work in the BBC Match of the Day Magazine, from 2011 to present. He is a Manchester United and England fan, but has gone to see Leyton Orient play with his O's season ticket in the 2013/14 campaign. Aside from football, Richard has written articles on Doctor Who and studies English Language and Linguistics at the University of Westminster. Aspiring sports journalist.