Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace have sacked manager Patrick Vieira following an alarming dip in form that has seen the club become embroiled in a relegation battle.
The Eagles are yet to win a match across all competitions in 2023 - a run of 12 games - culminating in a 1-0 defeat at rivals Brighton during the week in what proved to be Vieira's final match in charge.
That loss - Palace's third in a row - has left the club still sitting 12th in the Premier League standings, but they are only three points above the relegation zone and no club has accumulated fewer top-flight points since the turn of the year.
Chairman Steve Parish has said the decision to part ways with Vieira was "with enormous regret" but he ultimately felt "a change is necessary" if the club are to avoid the drop - Palace are 11/2 in the To be Relegated market.
|What||Arsenal v Crystal Palace|
|Where||Emirates Stadium, London|
|When||14:00, Sunday 19th March|
|Odds||Arsenal 2/7, Draw 17/4, Crystal Palace 12/1|
Former Arsenal and Manchester City star Vieira was appointed as Roy Hodgson's successor in the Selhurst Park dugout in July 2021 amid plenty of optimism and he duly delivered during his first season in charge.
After playing a largely defensive brand of football under Hodgson, Palace became much more attack-minded with Vieira at the helm and he guided the club to a more than respectable 12th-place finish during the 2021/22 campaign, as well as helping them to the FA Cup semi-finals.
Things also started smoothly for Vieira this season, as the club went into the World Cup break in mid-table, sitting level on points with Fulham and Brentford - two sides that have gone on to enjoy highly-successful seasons.
However, the same cannot be said for Palace, who since beating Bournemouth on New Year's Eve have failed to win any of their matches in 2023, with Wednesday's defeat to Brighton being their third loss in a row.
The goals also dried up for Vieira, as their tally of 21 in 27 Premier League games is the fourth-lowest in the division, while they have not only gone four games without a goal but, prior to the Brighton loss, they had failed to even register a shot on target in their three previous games.
Vieira leaves Palace still sitting outside the bottom three and priced at 1/9 in the Not to be Relegated market, but the form book does not lie and, without a change, the Eagles may well have sleepwalked into the bottom three come the end of the season.
Nottingham Forest v Newcastle preview: Magpies hoping to strengthen European claim
Premier League review: Arsenal continue title charge with Cottage canter
Palace are yet to confirm a permanent or temporary replacement for Vieira, although fellow coaches Osian Roberts, Kristian Wilson and Said Aigoun have also left the club, meaning it could be goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely that takes charge of the team this weekend.
Whoever is in the dugout on Sunday will face a stern test of their credentials, as Palace will be at the Emirates Stadium to take on Premier League leaders Arsenal - a match the Eagles are priced at 12/1 to win in the Full Time Result market.
Following the match with the Gunners, Palace will have 10 games remaining to save their season and it certainly looks set to be a pivotal spell, especially when you consider they will be facing eight of their relegation rivals during that time.
Palace will face fellow strugglers Leicester, Everton, West Ham and Bournemouth at Selhurst Park during the run-in, as well as travelling to Leeds, Southampton and Wolves.
It is fair to say that Palace's destiny remains firmly in their own hands, but the pressure that will be riding on those games will only increase the longer their winless run extends.
The Eagles will also travel to Tottenham at the beginning of May before they round off their season with a trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham. Palace will be hoping their survival is assured long before that final-day contest.
Palace are the ninth Premier League team to change manager this season, with the likes of Aston Villa and Wolves having enjoyed an upturn since their switches, while others, such as Southampton, have struggled to receive the boost they were looking for.
One of the early frontrunners to succeed Vieira at Selhurst Park will be a familiar face to Palace supporters, as it is former boss Hodgson, who stepped down from the role at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Perhaps worryingly for Palace is Hodgson's only managerial role since then was a short, ill-fated spell at Watford last season when he could not help the Hornets avoid relegation from the top flight. The former England boss is 10/11 in the Crystal Palace - To be Manager on 01/05/2023 market.
Other names said to be in the running include former Southampton boss Ralph Hassenhuttl (11/1), ex-Leeds manager Jesse Marsch (14/1) and Lucien Favre (10/1), who parted ways with Nice earlier this year.
Worryingly for Palace, all those candidates were sacked by their clubs during the current campaign, but at this late stage of the season, there may well be a lack of standout candidates to take over the role.
Whoever is appointed Vieira's successor will have one job only between now and the end of the season and that will be to preserve the top-flight status Palace have held for the last decade.