How Crystal Palace Have Made Winning Penalties One of Their Biggest Strengths

It seems like every weekend when you check the Crystal Palace score, you will find 'Milivojevic (P)' somewhere on the scoresheet. This might seem like an exaggeration, but the stats prove that it really is an all too common occurrence.

​During Crystal Palace's 2-1 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, Serbian midfielder Luka Milivojevic converted from the spot to score his eighth penalty kick of the season; three more than any other player. It would have been his ninth, had he not missed from 12 yards against Everton in October.

Luka Milivojevic

Since the start of last season, ​Crystal Palace have won 19 penalties in the Premier League, six more than any other side. Palace are therefore awarded a spot-kick every 4.6 games on average and Milivojevic has netted 17 of them. So just how do the Eagles do it?

The age-old theory is that the 'Big Six' receive preferential treatment from referees due to the bigger pressure on the officials and intimidation from the elite players. There may be some truth to the matter, with ​Manchester United leading the way for penalties awarded this season (10), however Palace, who have been given nine penalties this season, find themselves just five points above the relegation zone.

In fact, of the top six teams with the most penalties awarded, four are in the bottom half of the Premier League, so that's that theory debunked.

Speaking in January to the club's official website over their penalty prowess, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson said: "I wonder sometimes when people come up with these stats if they ever ask themselves the question, 'why is it that Manchester United and Crystal Palace get so many penalties?'.

"Is it just the fact that we're lucky and referees are kind to us, or has it maybe got something to do with the fact that we've got players who, when they get into the penalty area, they've got such incredible skill and ball skills that they get brought down for penalties?"

Roy, you might be onto something. The wingers (and full-backs) at Selhurst Park are some of the trickiest customers in the Premier League - ​Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend, Patrick Van Aanholt and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to name but a few.

Zaha is currently the second-most fouled player in the league this season, being brought down 79 times - only ​Chelsea's ​Eden Hazard has been fouled more (81). It's Zaha and co's ability to suck a defender in and skip away at the last second inside the 18-yard box and Hodgson believes Palace get their just rewards.

"The reason we get penalties is that we've got players who provoke those penalties and really and truly the guys that provoke those penalties should get their credit for goalscoring. Really the only person who gets the credit for goalscoring is the one who converts it."

This campaign, Milivojevic has more goals (nine) than Leroy Sane and has bagged as many as ​Marcus Rashford and ​Anthony Martial, and last season the Serb finished level with ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang​Sadio Mane and ​Christian Eriksen on 10 goals.

As Hodgson explained, perhaps it should be players like Zaha and Townsend who earn the plaudits. But one thing that can't be ignored is Milivojevic's steel from 12 yards.

Source : 90min