Player to watch today: Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) 0

Jason Puncheon is an interesting player.

Because Crystal Palace aren’t on television very often, most rival supporters are aware of little beyond his - sorry, cliche - cultured left-foot.  That’s fair: Puncheon does strike a ball very purely and it’s not a surprise that, through highlights packages, has become his dominant association.

He’s more than that, though.  Puncheon may not be a principal component in this Palace side - James McArthur, Mile Jedinak and the centre-back pairing are all more important to Alan Pardew - but he’s a very useful flourish.

Queens Park Rangers come to Selhurst Park today and that’s exactly the sort of opponent you would expect Puncheon’s to be very prominent against.

Pardew has a few injury concerns, so some players may be shifted around to compensate for the absentees, but expect Puncheon to spend most of the game drifting in a shallow right position - and that’s an area in which QPR have struggled all season.

Yes, Puncheon is dangerous around the penalty-box, but he’s also quite clever in possession and he probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for how well he uses the ball.

Chris Ramsey will likely start Yun Suk-Young at full-back on that side and, given Leroy Fer’s long-term injury, select Niko Kranjcar to play alongside him.  The latter may be a gifted footballer, but he’s not a particularly hard-working one and he’s not an ideal candidate for any role which involves protecting a defender.

In fact, that whole area is weak.  Rio Ferdinand will start as the left-sided centre-back and, irrespective of what he once was, he is now a paceless liability.  Similarly, QPR have had and continue to have problems protecting their defence as a whole and today, with Karl Henry and Sandro starting in central-midfield, they will again rely on rugged physicality rather than any nuanced game-reading ability.

This isn’t a flattering composition and it’s clearly one which suits an opponent who possess players who can not only move possession around smartly, but who also are in the habit of appearing in space between the lines.

And that’s Puncheon.  His goal-return may not quite be (3) what it was last season (7), but expect him to add to it today - or at the very least to feature in the assist column at some point.

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