A key part of Bristol City’s successes earlier in the season was their penetrative through ball passes provided by the creative midfielder, Kasey Palmer.
The former Chelsea academy graduate provided a breath of attacking intent to a Robins’ side lacking goals in the previous season, and was supplying the likes of Andreas Weimann and Benik Afobe with excellent opportunities to put their side up a goal.
Times have changed however, and KP45 finds himself out of the team, having not started in the league since City’s 4-1 loss away to West Brom in late November. Palmer had been a regular in the side at that point, appearing in 17 games, out of 19 in all competitions.
Since that loss, the midfielder has appeared in 4 games off the bench, out of a possible 18 in the league, and was handed one start in an FA Cup tie, which he played pretty well in.
What exactly happened to Palmer?
Shortly after that loss to West Brom, City started to embark on a bit of a bad run of form, eventually switching to a 4-4-2 formation, rather than a narrow 5-3-2 which accommodated KP’s passes through the middle.
The creativity after this started to come from wideman, Niclas Eliasson, as the BS3 side moved to a direct system, which isn’t attractive to watch at all and is starting to create a bad run of form.
Palmer began to show promise when on-loan in the second half of last season but didn’t feature much due to a lack off fitness, or at least that’s what Lee Johnson thought. LJ criticised the problem repeatedly when asked where Palmer was, with Kasey only making 2 starts in that whole time period.
He did have the much-needed flair that City needed last term, impressing in 15 appearances off the bench, with them just missing out on the playoffs and Palmer going back to Chelsea at the end of the season.
Determined to prove Johnson wrong, the midfielder went away in the summer and worked incredibly hard on getting back to where he was when on loan at Huddersfield, the best spell of Kasey Palmer’s career.
City’s playmaker took time to self reflect, before starting a summer boot camp with Jamie Lawrence, at Kings Gym in Croydon. To get back a bit of stamina and boost up his strength, Palmer went through both weight and aerobic work with Lawrence, to improve his energy levels.
Above is an example of the work that the midfielder did with the ex-Bradford City player over the summer, with Palmer wearing Bristol City branded gear throughout the time working out in Croydon.
Building on that, Kasey did enjoy his time in the City, and at the BS3 club, which was part of his decision to join the Ashton Gate side on a permanent deal, worth around four million pounds, in August despite Frank Lampard wanting to keep his services.
This could in no part be down to him being a fan favourite due to his super-sub antics last year, and being part of one of the most popular chants by fans, which can be heard below.
And prove Lee Johnson wrong he did, the ex-Chelsea man had an excellent start to the season and built up a beautiful friendship with fellow new signing Benik Afobe, which translated onto the pitch as well. In that time City lost once in 17 games and were a few points off the top of the Championship.
Creativity seems absent since then however, with Bristol City 15th in the Championship in xG, commonly known as expected goals, and Niclas Eliasson being man-marked out of games. This creates a lack of opportunities for the likes of Nahki Wells, who was banging them in at QPR just over a month ago, and Famara Diedhou up front.
In fact, if the Championship was decided on expected goals rather than actual goals, City would be in danger of facing relegation back to League 1, only 6 points above the drop zone. Have they been a bit lucky? Potentially!
One even worse stat is the fact that Bristol City have had less than 3 shots on target in 13 games this season, that’s just over a third of the entire season, and yet they find themselves in 7th place, and 2 points off the playoffs. Palmer only started in 3 of those games though and didn’t complete a full 90 minutes in any of them either.
Essentially meaning that if Kasey Palmer is on the field, Bristol City create chances, or at least that’s what the stats tell us.
And there’s more, Palmer completes 4 successful dribbles per 90 minutes, which is the best amongst the Robins’ squad, whilst also creating 0.3 assists every 90 minutes, only second to Eliasson and 0.2 through balls per minute. The latter stat also being the best in the squad. (All stats reported by the Bristol Post.)
Bristol City fans aren’t happy at all, as Palmer has failed to make the matchday 18 on multiple occasions recently, after a reported bust-up with Lee Johnson. The pair have brushed that speculation aside, however, but what has Palmer done to not be picked?
Surely those stats, which Lee Johnson would surely have had a look at, show that Kasey is worthy of another chance to come back into a side who haven’t won in 4 games.
I got in touch with a couple of fans on a fan forum recently and asked what they thought of Palmer’s absence. One fan, who’s username was Major Isewater, started with “For me, KP is a very talented player who can create and score goals.”
Before continuing, by stating “He is not the finished article and never will be if LJ doesn’t give him a run of starts.” And finished with, “I was looking forward to watching the lad blossom this season.”
Finally, another Bristol City fan with the username, WorleRed89, posted “Crazy that we bring a player in like this and then not look to play to his strengths, can only see it as an investment and LJ didn’t actually want him, but to increase the sell on price he will have to play and look good.“
What do you think about the current Kasey Palmer situation? Do you believe he should be starting for the Robins?
Giving their lack of chances created, and their top 6 ambitions, I do believe that Palmer should at least be given another chance by Johnson, who at the moment seems to be playing selection lottery. What about you, what do you think?
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