Football

Jason Puncheon pivotal in Crystal Palace win over Manchester City

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The big story of Monday Night Football was how Manchester City threw it all away, the league is effectively over as once again a City team who look disinterested and demotivated are frustrated and outperformed by a hardworking passionate display from a lesser team.

Everyone will walk away discussing the shoddy work of Man City and the heroic defending from a Crystal Palace side who were dominated by a 76% possession statistic in favour of the champions.

Man City pummelled over 20 shots at the Palace goal with Pardew declaring the performance 'diligent and resilient'.

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However few will go on to discuss the key performer for Crystal Palace and the tactical nouse of their manager in what was a masterstroke. 

Jason Puncheon being described as a 'number 10' or a playmaker would be something that would've been laughable last season, as he was part of a Tony Pulis squad that preferred to use the players tireless work rate and energy on the wings and he was often more a physical entity that a creative midfielder. 

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Puncheon flourishing in new role

Much has changed since then, Pulis is at West Brom, Pardew is at Palace and Jason Puncheon now operates just behind the striker. A role that the player is relishing at the minute.

In what was a more erratic season Crystal Palace haven't enjoyed the early days of the 2014/15 season with the club hovering around the relegation zone for most of the campaign Pulis jumped ship and in stepped Pardew. 

Some would point to the motivational tactics of Pardew, as the momentum the team has gained since his takeover has galvanized a Palace side that find themselves convinced of safety sitting in the same position they finished last season (11th) and ready to take on the league next year.

Others would point to the work of the formidable defence, as Selhurst Park has become a fortress, whereas fans of flare point to the danger on the wings, as the pace and trickery of Wilfred Zaha who looks more and more like a Premier League player this season and Yannick Bolasie, the bag of tricks have bamboozled full backs this campaign. 

Palace shining under Pardew

Palace have now won three on the bounce and have sauntered their way into safety since Pardew's inception and it's been a real team effort. However few are aware that this stint of flowing attacking and creative football has been spearheaded by their new found and unconventional trequartista Jason Puncheon. 

Puncheon, 28, has been somewhat of a journeyman, playing for 12 different clubs over an 11-year period has meant the player has never really gotten used to life at any particular club.

After a frustrating and unsuccessful spell at QPR in 2012 the player was then loaned to Premier League new boys Crystal Palace in January and has up to now, been used in rotation on the right hand side of the midfield. 

However over the past season something has changed, and we've seen Puncheon, along with Palace recreate themselves. Puncheon has been remoulded into a central attacking midfielder, a role that although the player has been operating in before, has never really up until now been able to hold down.

The fact that everyone around him has developed into believing they're good enough for the most competitive league in the world has helped boost his confidence and the player has been influential in what has been without doubt his most successful season to date. 

Exciting end to the season

It's sure to be an adventurous end to the season for Palace and Puncheon as they look to solidify an admirable mid-table finish but with a season of dynamism and creativity the future looks hopeful for Palace as they seem to have uncovered a hidden gem in Jason Puncheon. 

Palace find themselves in third place in the form table, being only outdone by Manchester United and Arsenal, promising signs as the new Premier League season is eagerly anticipated.

It's interesting to see if Pardew will opt to continue moulding his team around the current talisman that is Jason Puncheon

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Topics:
Manchester City
Football
Crystal Palace
Premier League
Alan Pardew
Jason Puncheon

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