Palace 1-0 West Ham
Tony Pulis picked up his first points as Crystal Palace manager in front of a rocking Selhurst Park crowd. A dire affair was settled by a first half Marouane Chamakh header, only his second goal since moving to SE25 from Arsenal in the off season. West Ham dominated the opening forty minutes of the match yet failed to break Palace down and were made to pay just before the break as Chamakh glanced home a glorious Barry Bannan cross with his head.
The start of the second half saw Palace miss two glorious opportunities to put the game to bed, with Jerome and Puncheon the guilty parties, before a potential West Ham equaliser was chalked off for shirt pulling on the Palace goalscorer, Chamakh. A deep Joe Cole cross was nodded down at the back post by Tomkins but the Hammers centre back was adjudged to have fouled Chamakh before Downing lashed home from the edge of the box.
Jimmy Kebe, coming off the bench, had the chance to put a bit of gloss onto the result in injury time but could not find the target after beating Jaaskelainen to the ball.
I would love nothing more than to write about an amazing Crystal Palace performance, allowing us all to get carried away and fully believe that we are going to stroll to Premier League survival. Alas I cannot so before I run off and talk about how great it was beating West Ham, I will start with the bad.
62% passing and conceding 63% possession at home is just simply not good enough. A mere 275 passes were attempted in the match by Palace. The only time this season we have attempted less was in the home match against Everton, however, the difference in the quality of opposition makes it more understandable in that game. To be so comprehensively outplayed at home by West Ham means that there is still a lot of work for Tony Pulis to do if we are to survive this season.
"Three clean sheets in four Premier League matches is impressive by any teams standards."
Now there are plenty of positives to talk about as well! First and foremost I will start with the defence. Three clean sheets in four Premier League matches is impressive by any teams standards. We didn’t look like we could buy a clean sheet a few weeks back yet now we have conceded one solitary goal in 360 minutes of football. So how has this drastic turnaround occurred? Take a bow, Keith Millen.
As soon as Millen took temporary charge he set about putting in place one of the things that everyone knows a team needs; a settled back four. It is no secret that in an ideal world we would have signed two Premier League centre backs in the summer, we did not and as a result we have to get one with what we have. Millen chose to go back to the back four that got us promoted with three clean sheets in the Play Offs last season and stuck with them. It took two games for them to get up and running but now we look very solid at the back and never looked like conceding a goal last night for all of West Ham’s huff and puff.
"On another night we could have easily had four."
Also encouraging was the amount of very good chances that we managed to create in this match. Sure West Ham were throwing caution to the wind and leaving spaces in behind, however, we earned those spaces by taking the lead. On another night we could have easily had four as Puncheon struck the post, Jerome missed when through one on one and Kebe shot over when scoring seemed easier.
Another positive was yet another very good performance from Barry Bannan, who is fast becoming a Palace faithful favourite. After scoring the winner at Hull and striking the crossbar at Norwich on the weekend he can now add an assist to his early Palace CV.
Bannan has the attributes that will endear him to any Selhurst Park crowd. He always gives 100%, likes to put in a tackle and has a lovely little touch and range of passing. If he can begin to fully realise his potential in Red N Blue then he will have a big say in our fortunes his season.
Long Ball Pulis?
Season Totals – 5,084 Passes – 765 Long Balls = 15.0%
Tony Pulis – 612 Passes – 56 Long Balls = 18.6%
275 Total Passes Attempted – 58 Long Balls = 21.1% vs West Ham
337 Total Passes Attempted – 56 Long Balls = 16.6% vs Norwich
Keith Millen – 1,360 Passes – 211Long Balls = 15.5%
315 Total Passes Attempted – 51 Long Balls = 16.2% vs Hull
222 Total Passes Attempted – 46 Long Balls = 20.7% vs Everton
437 Total Passes Attempted – 61 Long Balls = 13.9% vs West Brom
386 Total Passes Attempted – 53 Long Balls = 13.7% vs Arsenal
Ian Holloway – 3,112 Passes – 440 Long Balls = 14.1%
374 Total Passes Attempted – 60 Long Balls = 16.0% vs Fulham
394 Total Passes Attempted – 57 Long Balls = 14.5% vs Liverpool
337 Total Passes Attempted – 50 Long Balls = 14.8% vs Southampton
413 Total Passes Attempted – 51 Long Balls = 12.3% vs Swansea
377 Total Passes Attempted – 47 Long Balls = 12.5% vs Man Utd
419 Total Passes Attempted – 56 Long Balls = 13.4% vs Sunderland
437 Total Passes Attempted – 64 Long Balls = 14.6% vs Stoke
361 Total Passes Attempted – 55 Long Balls = 15.2% vs Spurs
No denying it in this match. 21.1% of our passes were long, a season high. There was no real attempt to play football.
We looked long a fifth of the time we had the ball at out feet but Jerome’s and Chamakh’s endeavour made it effective and we won the game 1-0, so who am I to argue against the tactics?
All in all, beating West Ham is always fun. They have one of the most delusional fan bases going and the nonsense that many of them were talking after the game was just gold. “You’re the worst Premier League team I have ever seen” said one. “Good luck in the Championship” said another. Worry more about the shower you are watching boys and leave us to worry about ours because on that performance we’ll be playing you in the Championship next season should we go down.
Man of the Match: Marouane Chamakh
He deserves it for getting the winning goal alone but it is his effort in this game kicked up a notch. Now this could be simply because he was playing against a team that he feels did not give him a chance and thus he had a point to prove but I just do not care. With a bit of luck this goal will give him the confidence to kick on and become the striker he was when Arsenal signed him.
A special mention goes to Damien Delaney. Without a doubt his best performance this season. Was brilliant in the air and defended solidly all around, even to the extent that he committed the perfect professional foul when Ravel Morrison looked like he may unlock the Palace the defence. Get in, Damo.
The media are running out of superlatives to describe our support, meanwhile, I know that it can still get better. That’s not to say it was bad last night, it was amazing. If there are any Norwich fans reading, watch the footage at the full time whistle and listen to the roar from the Palace fans when the full time whistle sounds. THAT is how you celebrate a home win; not just in the Premier League, but in any league!
Up Next: Cardiff
As if this game was not big enough, we have another massive game at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Cardiff were promoted with us and we should be looking to beat them at Selhurst. Three points here and we are cooking on gas.
Come on you Palace!