Palace 3-1 SAFC
Crystal Palace picked up their first points of the season with a convincing victory over Paulo Di Canio’s Sunderland. Danny Gabbidon and Dwight Gayle both scored the first Premier League goals of their careers, sandwiching a Steven Fletcher headed equaliser, before Stuart O’Keefe curled home the first goal of his career in injury time.
Sunderland were reduced to ten men as John O’Shea was dismissed for a professional foul on Dwight Gayle after the Palace record signing picked the Irishman’s pocket inside the penalty area. Gayle then showed fantastic bottle to pick himself up and score from the spot, announcing his arrival in the Premier League two years and two days after he scored a hat-trick for Bishops Stortford in the Blue Square Conference North.
“Pressure was beginning to build to get the first points on board.”
After losing to Spurs and Stoke “pressure was beginning to build to get the first points on board” said Holloway. To go into a long international break with no points and sitting bottom of the league would have been a tough pill to swallow, especially with Manchester United waiting for Palace after the break. A win means that Palace now sit 14th in the table and I cannot help but draw comparisons to last season.
After losing our first three league games last season Palace entertained Sheffield Wednesday at Selhurst Park just before the international break. After taking a 1-0 lead into the half time break Freedman’s men emerged for the second half confident only for Wednesday to get back into the game with an equaliser . Everyone got a little bit nervous and feared that another defeat was about to ensue. Palace responded well to being pegged back and used the momentum offered to them by an electric atmosphere in the stadium to regain the lead and claim the three points.
Sunderland were only ever in the game for twenty minutes from the start of the second half and when Fletcher equalised I feared a Stoke-esque collapse. Instead Holloway’s boys decided to move up the gears and retook control of the game. The substitution of Williams for the tiring Campana revitalised our energy in the middle of the park and once he had settled into the game Palace were able to press high up the field and this eventually resulted in Gayle forcing O’Shea into the error that led to his early bath and Palace’s winner.
"With the game being on live TV the club was in the shop window."
As we all know, the victory over Sheffield Wednesday was the start of a fifteen game unbeaten run that culminated with Palace climbing to the top of the Championship. I am not suggesting that this will happen this season, I can guarantee that it will not. What this result does do, confidence building aside, is put Palace in a favourable place in the eyes of any potential signings. With the game being on live TV the club was in the shop window and there is no possible way that we could not have impressed.
"Chamakh's first touch is magical"
What also helped Palace to avoid a collapse akin to that at the Britannia Stadium was Chamakh’s increasing fitness. His first touch is magical at times and his strength allows him to hold the ball up with ease. This is key to bringing Gayle and Puncheon into play and turning the oppositions midfield around. His fitness is still some way off 100%, however, to be able to play effectively for 83 minutes was vital for the Eagles.
Another key factor was Jason Puncheon’s ball retention. He very rarely wasted possession and proved almost impossible to dispossess when he chose to dribble. This, alongside Chamakh’s hold up play, eased the pressure on the back four and enabled Palace to get into a winning position and then see it out with ease.
The masochistic side of me wishes that the sending off hadn’t happened in order to see if we could have gone on to get the winner without a penalty. Alas that was not the case and, as always, you can only beat what is put in front of you and beat them we did.
What did they say on Match of the Day?
So taking into account the fantastic team performance, three goals and a win; what did they say on Match of the Day about Palace? Absolutely nothing. All they did was talk about Di Canio. When Palace lose they want to analyse how bad the Eagles were yet when Palace win and tear a team apart, not a word. Yet more great work from the MOTD team.
MOTM: Joel Ward
Chamakh, Puncheon, Gayle, Moxey and Jedinak all had outstanding games, however, my award this week goes to Joel Ward. His awareness was exceptional and this enabled him to nip many Sunderland attacks in the bud. As the graphic shows, 45% of the Sunderland attacks came down the Palace right meaning that Ward had a lot to deal with in the match and did superbly.
Well it doesn’t get much better than that. From minute one with a deafening five minutes of “Red N Blue Army” to minute ninety-four and the post goal “We Love You” that took us through to full time, the Palace fans did not stop singing. Even when Fletcher equalised for Sunderland, the home fans never faltered and “When I Was Young Boy” is all that could be heard, drowning out the noise from the celebrating away fans.
It’s just what we do.
Nick Houghton landed another tip calling Palace’s 1-0 half time lead at 15/4. O’Keefe’s goal denied him two out two winning tips as it ruined his 10/3 tip for Palace to win by one goal.
Terence Ford’s effort proved fruitless yet again. Chamakh to score in a win never really looked like happening as Gayle played the more advance role. The second tip of Delaney to score anytime was almost there as he called that Palace would score from a set piece, but he plumped for the wrong centre back. Back to the drawing board.
Up Next – Manchester United
Ok, we play Oman beforehand but we’ll ignore that on the grounds of its friendly nature.
Can Palace reignite the spirit of Darren Ambrose and cause another upset at Old Trafford? Moyes will be feeling the pressure after today’s defeat and maybe, just maybe, we can heap a little more pressure on the “Chosen One”.