It was only a few months ago when we were talking about Crystal Palace as potential challengers for European football. Now they are the only Premier League team not to win a game in 2016, and are in serious danger of relegation. The problem that the London club have had all season is the lack of goals, and they need Connor Wickham to provide them at the end of the season.
This isn’t the first time that Wickham has been involved in a relegation battle. He was part of a Sunderland side that has fought against the drop in the past three seasons, often surviving against the odds. The 22-year-old scored crucial goals to keep the Black Cats in the Premier League in the 2013/14, including hugely important strikes against Chelsea and Manchester City.
He faces a totally different challenge this time around though. Whereas he played a key role in the great escape two years ago, this time around he needs to save a team in freefall. His side may be nine points clear of the drop zone at the moment, but it is difficult to see where their next win could come from.
When you look at Wickham’s career so far, all his goals have come in bursts. He could be at the start of one of those now, right when the Eagles need it, having scored four goals in his last two games. While the Englishman’s ability to take a chance has often been criticised, he has been deadly over the past week, including a wonderful volley against West Brom, even if Palace still lost the match.
If he can continue this run into the next few weeks, Palace will surely secure survival, especially given that they have been pretty good defensively this season. With the sheer number of teams battling at the bottom of the table, it looks likely that 36 or 37 points should be enough to keep Palace up, so a couple of wins and they should be fine.
But with their failure to score goals this season, Wickham must continue his good form, and finally fulfil the potential that he has been threatening to meet for many years.