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Crystal Palace: Can Eagles recover from horror start and escape relegation?

Any brighter days on the horizon for Hodgson's Palace?
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The 4-0 hammering at Old Trafford means it is now seven games without a win for Crystal Palace - equalling the worst ever start to a Premier League season, an 'accolade' held by Portsmouth. Do Roy Hodgson's men have any chance of surviving? Ben McAleer takes a look at the history books...

"The issue for Hodgson now is whether the squad is well-equipped to battle the drop. They have quality personnel across the pitch, but injuries to key men leaves them thrashing against the tide. Christian Benteke's lengthy layoff leaves Palace without a sufficient replacement. Wilfried Zaha's return to fitness will come as a boost, but the lack of striking outlet is a hefty blow to the side."

"At the moment we're like a boxer knocked down by superior fighters."

It was hardly a call to arms by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson after yet another humbling defeat, this time at the hands of Manchester United.

The Eagles have now lost their opening seven league games of the 2017/18 campaign, tying the record with Portsmouth in the 2009/10 campaign, the difference being that Pompey managed to score three times in those seven games. Palace are the only team yet to score a league goal in the Football League this season as they continue to lumber from crisis to crisis.

Another defeat means they are now [1.57] to be relegated and [2.5] to finish rock bottom.

If history has taught us anything, it's that the latter odds are too decent to pass up. Portsmouth may have won their eighth game of the 2009/10 season, a Hassan Yebda goal earning a 1-0 win at Wolves, but the south coast side remained bottom from the second week of the season to the end of the campaign, earning just 19 points in the process.

Hodgson has been handed a tough start to life at Selhurst Park, which hasn't aided his task, with the former England manager coming up against Southampton, Manchester City and Manchester United, losing on an aggregate score of 10-0, and it doesn't ease after the international break as they welcome champions Chelsea to south London.

Failure to secure victory would see them set an unwanted record of the worst start to a Premier League campaign, though there is a slither of hope on them staying up. They are only five points behind Leicester in 17th, though earning that first win is easier said than done. A draw would see them follow in the footsteps of Sheffield Wednesday in the 1999/2000 season, where the Owls picked up just one point from the opening eight games. Wednesday, however, finished 19th that year, incidentally five points adrift off safety.

There is also a very real possibility they could mirror Sunderland's abysmal start to the campaign, where they took just two points from the opening 10 games of the season. The Black Cats had used up the last of their lives the previous campaign and, of course, finished bottom having failed to secure their first win of the season until early November as they went on to secure just six wins from 38 games, 16 points off safety.

A draw with Chelsea after the international break would see them match Manchester City's record of one point from the opening eight games, a feat they managed in the 1995/96 season, yet even then, City were relegated, albeit on goal difference as a 2-2 draw with Liverpool on the final day of the campaign enough to ensure Saints and Coventry survived the drop by seven goals.

The performance of Tottenham in the 2008/09 season, though, will buoy Palace. Tottenham started the campaign disappointingly, taking just two points from the opening eight games in Juande Ramos' short-lived reign of terror. Harry Redknapp guided the north London side to a respectable eighth-placed finish, but the general consensus was that the Spurs squad at the time was 'too good to go down'. Of course, it's a questionable theory, but once Redknapp was at the helm, the north London side proved their worth as they secured 49 points post-Ramos.

The issue for Hodgson now is whether the squad is well-equipped to battle the drop. They have quality personnel across the pitch, but injuries to key men leaves them thrashing against the tide. Christian Benteke's lengthy layoff leaves Palace without a sufficient replacement. Wilfried Zaha's return to fitness will come as a boost, but the lack of striking outlet is a hefty blow to the side.

The international break is the ideal chance to put in the hard graft on the training pitch, yet it may not be enough to ensure an unwanted record for the Eagles. They have lost their last three home league meetings with Chelsea and the Blues, fresh from defeat to Manchester City, will be confident of making it four wins from their last four visits to Selhurst Park, when they meet on October 14.

Indeed, it's highly likely that Palace will write their name into the history books later this month and make their quest to consolidate a top-flight that bit harder.

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