Palace 2-1 Sheff Wed
Three points and boy do they taste good. Glenn Murray scored a brace for the first time in his Crystal Palace career and new signings impressed all over the place on their home debuts as we finally showed some steel and refused to buckle when Wednesday equalised early in the second half.
Wednesday hadn’t lost since February and were coming off the back of defeating Premier League opposition in the COCup in midweek, showing that they are no pushovers and, in turn, meaning that we can chalk this up as a very good victory.
How can we go from losing 4-1 to a League One club in midweek, to beating a team that haven’t lost in six months? It is simple really and, thankfully, can be fully attributed to Dougie Freedman.
There are three reasons for the dramatic turnaround. Firstly, Delaney, who I will come onto later.
Secondly, Yannick Bolasie. What a signing he is proving to be. The man is practically impossible to dispossess and this does wonders for taking the strain off of a faltering defence. Our only outlet in the last year has been Zaha and he is not the greatest at holding the ball as he wants to beat players and gets tackled often. I do not have a problem with this, we should want him to be that direct as that is what he does best. In Bolasie, we now have an alternative player we can look for who is strong and quick and plays the percentages game when on the ball. He always makes the simple run, is direct with it and doesn’t attempt to beat his man until he is looking to cross or shoot.
All technical aspects aside, if the other team doesn’t have the ball they cannot score. Bolasie equals more ball for Palace.
Thirdly, the balance in the midfield is now perfect and as a result Dougie has let the defensive shackles off. In Jedinak we have a superstar of a defensive midfielder at this level and Christmas has come early with the signing of Moritz, a player I still cannot believe we picked up so easily and, seemingly, uncontested. Then we have Owen Garvan who finally has some footballers around him that he can feed off.
It is hard for a lot of Palace fans to shake off the image of the George Burley Owen Garvan. That Garvan was weak, slow and consistently over run by the opposition as he refused to get stuck in. Looking back objectively, he was playing alongside Andy Dorman and Alex Marrow (one now released with the other on loan at Fleetwood Town). Alongside Jedi and Moritz, Garvan is a completely different player and showed yesterday that he can be the sort of box to box man that a 451 formation requires. He got stuck in when he had to, constantly picked the right pass and even fashioned himself some half chances.
We can be very excited about our midfield... and this is before we even include Jonny Williams!!!
Stand in the 6 Yard Box!
Let me refer you all back to my match report for the Preston game:
“Sure there are doubts cast over Wilbraham, Appiah, Easter and Murray, however, all they have to do this season is stand in the six yard box and chances will come.”
Case and point yesterday and here is why.
With Garvan and Moritz in the midfield, both accomplished passers of the football, we are finally able to move the ball through the middle with speed and accuracy which allows us to get the ball wide quicker thus isolating their fullbacks. This means that Zaha only has to beat one man, as opposed to as many as four men as in presvious games, and the same goes for Bolasie on the other flank.
In turn, this means that Zaha/Bolasie is able to beat their man quicker and get their cross into the box quicker. Previously, by the time Zaha had beat his men and got the ball into the box, the oppositions midfield had had the time to get back and crowd out our lone striker, making it practically impossible for Zaha to find him. Now that each move is happening quicker, the opposition midfield is unable to get back and this leaves us with a scenario where the cross is now coming into a box that contains two defenders at most, making it a lot easier for the striker to get onto the end of it.
For the first time yesterday we saw the Glenn Murray that we thought we had signed. If you can bring yourself to do it, go to youtube and watch all of his goals for the scum. 75% of them came from a good cross finding his fantastic movement, just like his second goal against Wednesday. Alas, we have our twenty goal a season striker.
Further (and I am sorry to bore you more with football tactics) when the attack enters the second phase, ie we are picking up a ball that the opposition has half cleared, we finally have the support from the midfield that the 451 formation requires. Watch our second goal yesterday and you will see that Bolasie crosses into a box that has Murray, Moritz, Garvan and Zaha waiting. When was the last time you saw four Palace players trying to get on the end of a cross that is not a corner?
I genuinely believe that we have one of the best midfields in this division and yesterday was just the beginning of the greatness that is to come.
The Referee, the Linesman and Dave Jones
No matter how many football games you may attend, I guarantee that you have never seen everything. I have never seen anything like the penalty incident yesterday and this includes playing in Sunday League matches!
It seemed a farce when it was taking place live and watching back the replays just makes it look even worse for the ref! To award the penalty first and foremost, it ridiculous. It was a perfect tackle and never a penalty. Watching the replay it is clear that the referee is not even looking at the tackle, he is looking at Zaha on the ground! Then, as Murray hits the deck, his head visibly turns to that incident and he blows for the penalty.
Then madness ensues. Wednesday players surround the referee only for Kirkland, the Wednesday keeper, to run off and complain to the linesman. Repeatedly the linesman tries to usher Kirkland away only to eventually lose his bottle in the face of the screaming keeper and call the ref over and tell him that the ball was clearly taken.
Now, they, eventually, got the decision right. No arguments there. The issue comes out of the FACT that the referee was perfectly placed at less than ten yards away from the incident and makes a decision on what he has seen only to overrule his decision on information given to him by a man that is standing some eighty yards away!
Mr Lewis you have had a mare sunshine and the roars of “You Don’t Know What You’re Doing” from the Selhurst faithful should haunt your dreams.
Then, just to make things worse, Dave Jones suggests that the whole situation cost his team the game? Reasoning? It meant that the crowd were baying for blood and this allowed us to go on and get the winner.
Mr Jones, I would be more worried about that lack of character shown by your team in response to the incident and not the masses of character shown by Palace in response.
Unsurprisingly your team of cowards, most notably Kirkland who practically physically bullied the linesman into changing his mind over the penalty, folded under the pressure put on them by the crowd and extra energy that it gave to the Palace players. Deal with that and keep your pathetic musings to yourself.
Damien Delaney: A massive hit. He organised at the back, he led and he showed passion, basically giving us everything that we have missed through Paddy McCarthy. He fully endeared himself to the Palace fans over his presence in and around the penalty decision as he refused to allow the Wednesday players to physically intimidate our team and thus gets a big A+ for his performance.
Whether he and Paddy will form a good partnership, being such similar players, remains to be seen, but for now he is exactly what we need. Well done Damien and well done Dougie... a great deadline day acquisition.
David Goodwillie: A very different debut here. He looked a bit off the pace, his first touch was often loose and he looks a little bit on the tubby side. All this said, he still managed to look quite dangerous and this is down to his positioning. He was always in the right place and this is exactly what you want from a striker.
Reading through his tweets it is clear that he was not happy at the amount of playing time that he was getting at Blackburn and I think that this has a lot of bearing on his physical condition.
He is a goalscorer and goalscorers need to be loved. If he starts to get that love at Palace we might just see the Goodwillie that scored so many goals for Dundee United. The jury is still out but I think we need to give him a few weeks before we sincerely judge. The international break has come at a good time for him.
Man of the Match: Glenn Murray
I came very close to giving man of the match to Mile Jedinak as he was an absolute beast in the middle of the park, however, I think that not giving it to the two goal man might have been a little harsh. After all, goalscorers need love.
His positioning and movement for the goals was superb and his all around effort was faultless as he chased lost cause after lost cause which often saw us win back possession. Considering he was supposed to be out for six weeks and came back in three this is the perfect return to action.
Now for a short, well needed, break before we face the Clowns. I am quietly confident that, once the new boys have had a couple of weeks to get to know each other, we are going to turn them over live on Sky.