Palace 2-0 Cardiff
Crystal Palace recorded back to back wins in the Premier League for the first time since October 2004; forcing all of the press that had already written them off for relegation to re-evaluate their opinions. The momentum that Keith Millen created has been kick on a notch by Tony Pulis and confidence is finally riding high at Selhurst Park.
Cardiff were comprehensively brushed aside by Pulis’ men. One Fraizer Campbell header aside, in the second minute of the match, Cardiff never saw the whites of Speroni’s eyes again allowing the Eagles to secure a fourth clean sheet in five games (If you had told me that we would achieve that feat once the transfer window had closed then I would have probably laughed at you). Meanwhile, Palace knocked at the door time and time again, notching up twenty shots on goal in the process and surpassing their previous best of seventeen efforts on goal this season vs Sunderland.
"The former Cardiff man made no mistakes the second time around and powered his header down into the ground and past David Marshall."
The away side were made to pay for missing their early chance almost instantly. Four minutes after Speroni turned Campbell’s effort over the bar, a delightful Dikgacoi through ball set Jerome away only for two Cardiff defenders to get back and make a tackle. Puncheon, who finally turned up from Southampton yesterday, picked up the loose ball and pulled off the most delightful of ‘Cruyff turn’ before whipping in the perfect cross to Jerome. The former Cardiff man made no mistakes the second time around and powered his header down into the ground and past David Marshall.
"Marouane Chamakh then continued to silence his critics."
Marouane Chamakh then continued to silence his critics with a “brilliant finish” according to Alan Shearer on Match of the Day. A Barry Bannan cross was poorly headed clear by Ben Turner, under pressure from Jerome, to Chamakh on the edge of the box. His control was perfect and before any Cardiff player could get close to him he lashed the ball into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot, sending Selhurst Park into a delirious state.
It was then one way traffic. Just like Tuesday night vs West Ham, Cardiff huffed and puffed but the Palace defence looked impenetrable yet again, despite Moxey having to come off (potential hamstring issue). Ward switched to right back and Mariappa filled in at right back yet Cardiff still did not get a sniff. On the counter attack Palace created chances at will and only some poor finishing and two astonishing David Marshall saves kept the score at 2-0.
Talking of goalkeepers; Speroni came under a lot of criticism on BT Sport on Tuesday night courtesy of former England stopper David James. He was not suggesting that Speroni is a bad goalkeeper, he was suggesting that he has not made any “match winning saves” this season, which was probably a fair assessment.
Rooney’s free kick at Old Trafford, Lambert’s free kick at St Marys and Sturridge’s goal at Anfield are all examples of goals that Speroni should have probably saved and maybe would have saved last season. Meanwhile, there has not been any exceptional saves of note.
Finally, Speroni stepped up to the plate yesterday. The save from Campbell in the second minute effectively wins us the game. If Cardiff take the lead there then our confidence is potentially shattered and perhaps we lose the match, but certainly do not win it.
"This is going to be the toughest period of Speroni’s Crystal Palace career since his efforts to dribble past Kevin Campbell back in 2004."
This is going to be the toughest period of Speroni’s Crystal Palace career since his efforts to dribble past Kevin Campbell back in 2004. It is no secret that Tony Pulis likes his goalkeepers to be taller than the goal. It is fair to say that this is not the case with Jules. Further, Pulis likes his keepers to command his area; another area in which Speroni lacks. It gets worse for the Argentine as well. Pulis’ game plan requires a keeper that has excellent distribution. Again, Speroni is far from the best in this department.
What Jules needs to do before January is make Pulis’ forget about the normal style of goalkeeper that he likes by keeping clean sheets and making saves like the one early on in this match. If not, then it will be the end of an era between the Palace sticks.
Man of the Match: Marouane Chamakh
After the Norwich game I spoke to LBC Radio and they immediately targeted Chamakh for abuse. “WHAT!?” was the response that I got from presenter Ian Payne when I stated “if anything, Chamakh is too good for us.” I went on to explain that playing as the lone striker for Arsenal is very different to playing as a lone striker for Palace. With all due respect to KG and Jedinak, they are not world superstars. Chamakh’s only fault this season has been trying to play like he would have been instructed to play at Arsenal. Bringing the ball down and laying off a fancy flick to Fabregas is all very well, when you replace Fabregas with KG then the desired result is never going to be the same.
"Now that Chamakh is not the lone striker, the story is very different."
Now that Chamakh is not the lone striker, the story is very different. His natural game is to drop deep to look for the ball. With Jerome ahead of him he can now do this. His goal is a classic example of the difference that Jerome has made to Chamakh. Bannan crosses the ball after Chamakh has beautifully trapped the ball and spread the play to the Scot. Jerome puts in a challenge on the ball but the defender is able to half clear. Now Chamakh is in the perfect position to score as he is floating on the edge of the box to pick up any form of clearance.
I do not think that there has been neither an increase in desire, nor a drastic change in his style of play from earlier in the season to now. The difference is that he has a strike partner that perfectly complements his style of play and thus has bought the best out of the Moroccan.
Yet another performance from the Palace fans that left everyone raving about us. Cardiff fans are no slouches when it comes to making noise but they were never in the game, exemplified by the “Can you hear the Cardiff sing?” that echoed around the stadium yet was greeted with a mere whimper from the travelling “support”.
If one ever doubts that an atmosphere has an effect on player’s performances then look no further than Barry Bannan. In the second half when he was attacking down the flank, and taking corners, in front of the HF it was clear that he was feeding off the atmosphere. It gave him a little something extra and he was compelled to applaud the singing support on several occasions. Cliché or not, we are the ‘twelfth man’ and must continue in this vain regardless of what is happening on the field.
Up Next: Chelsea
Oh to be the first team to beat Mourinho in the league at Stamford Bridge. The likelihood is that this will not happen but stranger things have happened in football.
Come on you Palace!