Crystal Palace improving under Holloway, but January holds the key to their season
Crystal Palace must show their quality against Huddersfield Town, live on Sky this weekend.
By Oliver Todd
Last Updated: 21/12/12 10:30am
Palace have taken 15 points from a possible 21 since Holloway's appointment and look well placed for a promotion push, despite two consecutive draws in the Championship. Their form has actually improved since former manager Dougie Freedman was lured away by Bolton.
The Championship's leading scorers have had their front three of Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and top-goalscorer Glenn Murray in fine form, and whilst Holloway has vented his frustrations at defensive mistakes that have cost Palace victories in their last two games that could have seen them push leaders Cardiff off the Championship summit.
Even with Zaha's recent drop in form, Palace look well placed for a promotion push with their variety of attacking talent, whilst Australian Mile Jedinak has looked a class act in midfield in just his second season in the Championship. Holloway has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal going forward.
On Saturday they face a Huddersfield team that won away at Holloway's Blackpool side last time they were live on Sky, in October. With their opponents currently on a poor run, taking only two points from their last five matches, Holloway will expect his side to return to winning ways against the Terriers.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, will look to take advantage of recent defensive lapses from the Eagles, with Jermaine Beckford back from a hamstring injury and hoping to add to his three goals in six starts so far this season. They last won in early November, courtesy of a Beckford goal away at Barnsley, but will be hoping to turn their season around after a sudden drop down the Championship table.
Coming into the hectic Christmas period, the combination of two teams desperate to get back to winning ways should provide a fascinating encounter in front of the cameras at Selhurst Park
The real problems for Holloway come with the January window. Zaha is the Championship's hottest property, and Arsene Wenger has already stated he could be interested, much to the displeasure of the Palace boss. Despite his age, Murray could also be a player in demand with his prolific goalscoring form yielding 20 in just 18 Championship games.
January also sees Palace face four sides all in the bottom half of the table. In January last year, Palace only picked up two points from four games. If Holloway can negotiate his way through this vitally important month both on and off the pitch, Palace have an excellent chance of promotion.
Holloway has already said he is compiling his shopping list for January, and if the Eagles can add a couple more players whilst holding onto their top stars, the rest of the Championship's leading pack will have even more to worry about from Holloway's new charges.
First up though is a tough test from Simon Grayson's Huddersfield side who have much to prove in their first season back in the Championship.