The stunning stats that show Crystal Palace are genuine dark horses for Europe next season

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The Eagles have been in sublime form of late, and beat Man Utd on Monday evening

Oh, Oliver! You kind-faced continental turbo-nerd! What are you cooking down there at Selhurst Park? What does your beady analytical eye see that us smooth-brained mortals cannot begin to even comprehend? How have you transformed Jean-Philippe Mateta into the world’s most convincing Didier Drogba tribute act? Whatever is your secret?

I’ll be completely honest with you, I forgot Crystal Palace were playing Manchester United on Monday evening. By the looks of it, so did Manchester United. It was only when I idly flicked up into the dizzy reaches of the sports channels and saw that the score was 4-0 (!!!) that I let out a pearl-clutching little gasp, like a WI member confronted with gratuitous partial nudity in a HBO primetime drama recommended to them by Good Housekeeping magazine. The natural order of things does not allow for Crystal Palace to put four past Manchester United without reply. It is obscene, an affront polite sensibilities - and yet, we might have to get used to this kind of thing.

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Since taking over in South London, Glasner has played 11, lost three, drawn three, and won five. Palace are currently on a streak of four victories in five outings, and in recent weeks they have scored a quintet against West Ham while also beating the likes of Liverpool and Newcastle United. Much of the discourse in the aftermath of last night’s demolition has focused on how humiliatingly shambolic Manchester United were. Perhaps instead, like your dad and his pals at their fortnightly pub catch-up, we should be talking about how good the Eagles are.

The potential has always been there. Any side who can field the likes of Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi, Joachim Anderson, and young Adam Wharton, among several others, is always going to have it within themselves to bloody a nose or two. Where Palace differ in their current guise compared to where they were under Glasner’s predecessor, Roy Hodgson, is that they are now doling out these hidings on a regular basis. There is a growing sense of expectation surrounding Selhurst Park, in both tangible output and aesthetic value.

You see, very few Premier League outfits are playing the kind of football that Palace presently are. There is an intricacy to their work that straddles the ornate and the ruthless, and that can only be achieved through the outlining and embracing of some very specific tactical principles. When Glasner first arrived at the club, he won just one of his first six matches; his team have been unbeaten ever since. Implementing the kind of wholesale changes that the Austrian has opted for takes time, but Palace’s patience is being rewarded, and then some.

There is no better illustration of the impact that their new coach has had than on the aforementioned Mateta. Often maligned during the early part of his time in England, the striker had been enjoying an improved campaign even prior to Glasner’s appointment. Now, however, he looks positively unplayable. On Monday, he became the first player since 1996/97 to score in each of a new manager’s first six home league games. In a couple of months, give or take, he has doubled his tally for the season, and his presence has become nothing short of vital.

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At the back, Palace have conceded more than one goal on just two occasions under Glasner, and one of those was the 5-2 thrashing of West Ham late last month. Indeed, if you extrapolate the 13 goals they have shipped during the Austrian’s 11 matches at the helm over the course of a 38 fixture Premier League campaign, it works out at around 45 goals for the entire season. Last term, that would have been enough for the fifth best defensive record in the top flight.

All of this is to say that Palace are improving rapidly and drastically. So good are they, in fact, that you find yourself asking just how far they can go under Glasner next season. It is no exaggeration, based on current evidence, to suggest that they could be a dark horse to qualify for Europe.

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