Patrick Vieira’s first outing at Selhurst Park ended up being a 2-2 drawn game against ambitious League One side Charlton Athletic in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday night ahead of the new 2021/22 league campaign.
Highly-rated youngster Jesurun Rak-Sakyi put the home side ahead early in the first half but a loss in concentration in the box allowed Jayden Stockley to level up for the visitors.
Another youngster, Scott Banks, thought he had scored the winner late in the second half when he finished off superbly to restore Palace’s lead, but a failed clearance from Cheikhou Kouyate fell kindly to substitute Josh Davidson who powered in a volley to restore parity and ensure the Addicks continued their impressive pre-season form.
Here are five things we observed from the game:
Vieira’s 4-3-3 system and tactics
Just like their last two pre-season games, Palace started with a 4-3-3 formation, with new signing Marc Guehi, Martin Kelly, James Tomkins and Jairo Riedewald forming the back four. Youngster Malachi Boateng was handed the holding midfield role and was flanked by the experienced Chiekhou Kouyate on the left and another youngster in Scott Banks on the right.
Jordan Ayew through the middle, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi on the left and Jack Wells-Morrisons on the right made up the front three.
The interesting thing about how they operate in this system is that the left-back is tasked with going high up while the right-back tucks in to form a back three when they are attacking, quite similar to the style Jose Mourinho tried to introduce when he first took over at Tottenham. Even though personnel changed throughout the game, the system remained the same.
Defined style of play but lacking intensity and most times quality
Crystal Palace have certainly changed their style of play, they keep the ball better, they pass it around more which will certainly improve their ball possession statistics this season. There is a school of thought that if you keep the ball more you're likely to create a chance and less likely to concede one, only time will tell which part of that works for Palace but against Charlton the final ball was either overcooked or undercooked which is quite understandable as it’s a new style being introduced during pre-season.
It was also refreshing to see the back four push up whenever the ball was with the opposition in an attempt to narrow the passing space and limit the options for the opposition through the middle.
There is still work to do when it comes to pressing and creating chances from this style of play but most of the fans will agree that there has been an attempt to introduce something new this season for the first time in four years.
Palace susceptible to ball over the top
When the game did stretch in the second half the Palace back line were caught a couple of times with the ball from the top. Something that will catch the eye of Mr Vieira.
It’s all good and exciting when you’re playing and keeping the ball well but in the Premier League where the standard is incredibly high and mistakes are often punished, your back line must be in sync and your sweeper goalkeeper must be ready to clean up anything that is placed over the last defensive line.
Charlton are hard to beat and that will be a starting place in League One
When Charlton Athletic enjoyed those glorious years in the Premier League under Alan Curbishley, they had a reputation for being hard to beat,and even though it’s early days under Nigel Adkins it's still very clear to see that they are well drilled and very strategic in the way they attack and use the ball.
Here, they went a goal down twice and fought their way back into it to draw away at a Premier League side-this shows how tough they are mentally and physically.
They created enough to be hopeful and held their own to a standard that should scare most of their opponents in League One this season.
They finished seventh last season, but on the basis of their performance at Selhurst Park, they should be in with a shout for a play-off, if not an automatic promotion.
Selhurst Park back to its bouncing best
The fans were back to Selhurst for the first time this season and it was easy to see the difference they made.
For most of last season and the one before, games here felt very lonely and dry due to Covid-19 restrictions put in place but Tuesday was very different.
The holmesdale was loud and large and with songs throughout the game to make their presence felt, they will definitely make a difference this season.
Football, like they say, is never the same without the fans!