Palace 3-1 W.B.A

Ince (15), Ledley (27), Chamakh (pen 69)
Thivey (46)
Sat 8th February 2014
Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace climbed to fourteenth place in the Premier League after an impressive 3-1 victory over West Brom, who slipped into the relegation zone with this defeat. Thomas Ince took just 14 minutes and 2 seconds to open his goal account with the Eagles and Joe Ledley took only 12 more minutes to also bag on his debut. 

Palace looked comfortable going into the break at 2-0 but a goal within 40 seconds of the restart, another debut strike by Thievy who is on loan to the Baggies from Espanyol, got West Brom right back into the game. As the away team piled on the pressure looking for an equaliser only a world class save from Julian Speroni kept Palace in front and just a minute later Chamakh broke from the half way line and scored from the spot after being scythed down by Ben Foster. In all fairness to the England goalkeeper he did appear to play the ball before taking down the Moroccan. 

This took the sting out of the West Brom fight back and from that point on Palace looked the more likely to add to the four goals already scored. With this victory the Eagles climbed above West Brom in the table and secured a third consecutive home win in the Premier League for the first time since December 1992. 

The Debuts

Thomas Ince – 9/10

The best home debut since James Vaughan. We’ve all seen him do it in the Championship and anyone who managed to take the Young Player of the Year title from Wilfried Zaha last season has to have some ability. It took him no time whatsoever to show this ability at the top level. 

"Expertly lift the ball over the onrushing Ben Foster."

There had already been a warning sign for West Brom before Ince scored as he almost snuck in behind to get onto a Chamakh flick on before he latched on to a Bolasie, we’ll say, through ball and expertly lift the ball over the onrushing Ben Foster to open the scoring.

Ince also brings with him set piece delivery, something that we have been lacking since Bannan lost his place in the team. Just before the half an hour he whipped in a perfect corner that found an unmarked Joe Ledley who had the simple task of nodding into an empty net. A lot of credit must also go to Jedinak who sneakily blocked off Ledley’s marker Billy Jones.  

"Outrageous nutmeg on Chris Brunt."

He drifted out of the game for the remainder of the first half but once again found his place in the second with some exceptional forward play, which went alongside what seemed like an instant understanding with the once again impressive Chamakh. My personal second half highlight was his outrageous nutmeg on Chris Brunt.

It is fair to say that the kid is hungry and he is going to be a bit part of any survival effort. It may just be four month fairytale, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts and if it extends beyond this season then all the better.

Joe Ledley - 8/10

Clearly we signed him to play in midfield, yet “I played a little bit out of position at left back” said Ledley at the end of the game. At points you could see that he looked a little bit uncomfortable at full back, but in general he did pretty well. As we looked to see out the game he was moved into the centre of the midfield and he looked far more comfortable in there and has the battling qualities needed to thrive in the middle of the park at Palace.

When he found out that he was playing at left back I doubt that he dreamed that he would score on his debut but he found himself in the box and nodding home the easiest chance he is likely to have this season. 

Finally, 8 interceptions mean that he managed one more than Mile Jedinak which is impressive for any player in any match. All in all, looks to be a snip for the price that we got him.

Scott Dann- 6/10

A fairly solid debut from the man who arrived from Blackburn. His inclusion at the expense of Danny Gabbidon is a little risky in my opinion, however. Dann’s pace is very similar to that of Delaney’s, which means not overly fast. Gabbidon on the other hand possesses impressive pace for a centre back, especially for someone of his age. A lack of pace can be easily exposed in the Premier League, hence my worry.

West Brom exposed Dann’s lack of pace in the first half with a ball curled in behind him (pictured below). This would have been even more of an issue under Holloway as we played a much higher line, however, despite the deeper defensive line that we play under Pulis players, likes James Morrison in the below example, can find ways to pass in behind a deeper line.

This is not me suggesting that we take Delaney out. The man is a warrior and I would not dream of taking that quality out of our back four. It is just merely an observation. What did impress me about Dann, however, is that West Brom tried the same ball a few more times and he adjusted well to cut it out.

Julian Speroni

“That’s why he’s number one” sang the Palace fans after what can only be described as a world class save. As the ball dropped in the six yard box to Scott Sinclair the whole of Selhurst thought that our 2-0 lead had been completely blown. Instead Speroni dives to his left and manages to stop the volley before smothering the ball. The crowd climbed to their feet to give the Argentinean a standing ovation and did the same again a minute later when the save was replayed on the big screen above the goal in which he produced the save. 

“Fair play to Julian he has made some cracking saves. I remember the FA Cup game about six weeks ago and he did the same there to keep them in the game” said Ben Foster after the game.

"The song was a little bit harsh on Hennessey I thought."

The song was a little bit harsh on Hennessey I thought. I am thinking that Hennessey is more about succession as opposed to short term replacement. Speroni, despite some catastrophic errors, is likely to keep his place this season and into the next. Thinking along these lines, it is a good job that Jules made this save as it made up for his error for the goal. No goalkeeper likes getting beat at their near post and Jules should be doing much better with Thievy’s effort.

Glenn Murray

What an emotional return. The whole of Selhurst Park was on their feet to welcome the man whose goals are the reason that we are in the Premier League this season. The noise was deafening as he stepped across the white line and I am not too proud to say that I had a little tear in my eye.

“He’ll be like a new signing” said Alan Shearer on Match of the Day and he is right. The difference between Murray and Jerome is pace. Jerome has a lot and Murray has next to none. However, what Murray lacks in pace he more than makes up with his game reading ability and an unerring knack of finding the back of the net. If he can find his stride I have no doubt that he will score the goals that ensure last season’s thirty goals did not just lead to one Premier League season.

Man of the Match: Marouane Chamakh

I am sure that many have gone for Speroni here and it is hard to argue against him as it is blatantly obvious that his save from Sinclair was game changing. However, if he saves the goal, as he should, then we are comfortable at 2-0 and West Brom probably do not build up the head of steam that led to this chance.

Then there will be the people that gave it to Ince. Again, hard to argue. A goal and an assist speaks for itself.

"Chamakh is the most technically gifted player with have had since Attilio Lombardo."

The reason I opt for Chamakh is for his all around play. I try not to be too hasty with opinions on players. Puncheon is a great example. I had written him off after ten games this season and now he is one of the first players on the team sheet for me. Chamakh is the most technically gifted player with have had since Attilio Lombardo. His manipulation/control of the ball is a joy to watch and he has, alone, made my season ticket worth every single penny this season.

He made and scored the third goal and his all around presence up top unsettled the West Brom defence all day lone and he created all sorts of space for the likes of Bolasie and Ince to show their talents. I am excited to see how a front four of Puncheon, Ince, Chamakh and Murray looks... on paper, it looks Premier League to me.

Up Next: Everton

No doubt this is going to be an exceptionally tough game. We earned a very valuable point in our game at Selhurst, keeping a clean sheet in the process... and this was with Lukaku in the team. As I write this I am watching the Everton Spurs game and they look a little bit toothless up front without the big Belgian. Maybe, just maybe, we can conjure up some sort of result.

Come on you Palace.

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