Crystal Palace’s Marouane Chamakh emerging from his malaise 0

Back in the Summer of 2010, Marouane Chamakh was a coveted player. His contract at Bordeaux was expiring, he’d returned 5 goals from 9 Champions League appearances that season, and while he wasn’t a top-tier European talent, he was still seen as an extremely useful forward who would complement most sides on the continent.

Everyone knows what happened next: a promising-if-unspectacular start at Arsenal quickly tailed-off, his form nosedived, and over the course of three unproductive seasons he became something of a standing joke within English football.

Rather than being an example of a player who was overrated, Chamakh is someone whose game has been badly undermined by an evaporation of confidence, and who has never really recovered from his poor start in the Premier League.

Until now.

Three goals in three consecutive appearances, and suddenly he’s back into ‘useful’ territory - whilst nobody should be in any hurry to elevate the Moroccan to ‘world-beater’ status, there’s every reason to believe that he can become a focal point of Tony Pulis’ attempts to keep Palace’s head above water over the course of the rest of the season.

Goals are the obvious barometer for a forward’s performance but, on the basis that Chamakh has never been particular prolific, it’s worth paying attention to the other parts of his game - and how, since the change in management at Selhurst Park, his overall contribution has greatly improved.

Under Ian Holloway, Chamakh played a very high-percentage, low-impact game, competing aerially in the wrong parts of the pitch and laying the ball off with the intention of retaining possession rather than of creating anything potentially threatening to an opponent. In addition to which, on the rare occasions when he was presented with an opportunity on goal, his general lack of confidence was all too apparent - he was, without meaning to sound overly-harsh, a bit of an empty shirt and a forward in name only.

Palace entertain Newcastle today, and if you get the chance to watch extended highlights this evening, spend some time focusing on Chamakh - and in particular, the intent with which he’s starting to play, and the increasing willingness he’s showing to involve himself more in games. He’s not hiding as much as he was, and he isn’t nearly as tentative on the ball; it’s amazing what a little bit of confidence can do for a player.

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