To many people, December 19, 2015, is nothing more than an unremarkable winter's day heading towards Christmas. Festive goodwill was well and truly in the air and Crystal Palace fans were dreaming what the second half of the season would bring, after their 2-1 away win against Stoke saw them in sixth.
Palace were level on points with Man United and Tottenham and looking down at the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea. These were exciting days indeed for the team from south London.
As the new year hit so did a dose of sobering reality for Palace. Their first game of 2016, a listless 3-0 loss to a struggling Chelsea at Selhurst Park set the tone. If that wasn't concerning enough the 1-0 loss to a very ordinary Aston Villa side a week later put the writing on the wall. Since that Stoke victory in December, it has been a trail of misery for all concerned with the club.
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It is currently eleven games without a win in the league in 2016. If you add their last two games played in 2015 (0-0 draws against Bournemouth and Swansea) the winless run stretches to 14 games. They have accumulated a total of five points in that time.
They are the only team in the top four divisions not to achieve a home league win in 2016 and currently sit in 16th position, the word dreadful doesn't do the situation justice.
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The only shining light in the deepening gloom at Selhurst Park has been their FA Cup run where they have reached the semi-finals and will play Watford. Manager Alan Pardew who ,in the first half of the season was touted as a England manager-in-waiting and did nothing to hose down those calls himself, now clearly admits his team are in a relegation scrap.
So how did it come to this? Key players Yohan Cabaye, Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon, Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham have all missed various periods of the season over the past few months with injury. Palace aren't blessed with a huge squad so anytime their star men are missing it definitely hurts.
Add to the fact that they have conceded late goals in games where they could have claimed vital points against Sunderland and Liverpool in particular has sapped even more confidence from the team. The positive news for Pardew is that there haven't been any murmurings from the board to replace him as manager.
Their run to the end of the season is hardly what you would call a walk in the park. They face away games against top four hopefuls West Ham, Man United, title-chasing Arsenal and also meet Pardew's ex-club Newcastle. They face a massive home game next week against Norwich which they have to win to put clear air between them and those below. Currently the gap between Palace and the bottom four teams is seven points.
It is sure to be a fascinating last six weeks for Crystal Palace. While cup success will be highly memorable, the players and manager can't afford to lose focus on their main objective - Premier League survival.
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