Newcastle 1-0 Palace
Papiss Cisse broke Crystal Palace hearts with a winner deep into time after added time. With the three extra minutes already expired he lost Scott Dann in the penalty area and headed past Julian Speroni who was helpless to stop it despite being in tremendous form for the Eagles.
Yannick Bolasie had earlier hit the bar for the away side but the relegation threatened clubs barren run in front of goal would continue, now having not scored from open play in 471 minutes.
"Moments later the ball was in the back of the Palace net."
Palace appeared to have secured the point when a Tiote shot cannoned back off the cross bar two minutes into injury time before being denied the chance to win it just as the time expired. Glenn Murray chased a long ball and beat his man to it before attempting to lift the ball over Williamson at the back for the Magpies. The centre back had his arms raised and the ball struck his arm just outside the penalty area only for the ref to allow play to go on. Moments later the ball was in the back of the Palace net.
Were We "Robbed?"
Yes, with a caveat.
As a Palace fan you cannot help but be utterly pissed off. The time was up and a blatant handball was turned down in the build up. However, when all we do it 'Eat Sleep Defend Repeat' (for the older readers this is a play on the title of a song that is very repetitive) it is hardly surprising that we eventually concede. You only have to switch off for a moment in this league and you will get punished. After playing like a superhuman for 93 minutes Scott Dann has one lapse in concentration and its game over.
"A minimum of three minutes added time"
Then of course there is the "a minimum of three minutes added time". They say it loud and clear for everyone to hear and sometimes it runs over. With a bit of luck we will win a game ourselves before the season is out with a goal in extra seconds at the end, although time is running out for that one to even itself up this season.
Back to defending all of the time. There is a reason why this is occurring.
“Do you now wish that you took more risks?” was a question posed to Tony Pulis in the post-match press conference. “In what sense?” he returned. “Well you played five across the middle…” “No” Pulis interrupted, “we played 4-4-1-1.” Without suggesting that the Press are experts, if someone who writes about football for a living has watched 90 minutes and believed that you played 4-5-1, then maybe Pulis should be asking himself why he thinks this.
"Since Chamakh hobbled off at Swansea we have scored only 2 goals, both penalties."
Joe Ledley was the man that was supposed to be playing the hole behind the main striker, who was Cameron Jerome on this occasion. Whilst this was Ledley’s position in theory, in reality he played ten to fifteen yards further back than regular 'in the hole man' Marouane Chamakh would have. Since Chamakh hobbled off at Swansea we have scored only 2 goals, both penalties. There is no coincidence here.
The Moroccan's brilliant hold up play gives defenders something to think about. When playing with Jerome the opposition know that Chamakh can bring the ball down in one touch and seek out Jerome's pace in behind and thus they have to be weary. Without him teams are just pressing all over us and we have no response as we simply have no presence in the final third. As the game goes on we are pushed deeper and deeper and this is likely to invoke disaster.
Of course this makes teams vulnerable to the counter attack but when playing against a team that have brain farts every time they get in the final third, they hardly appear worried.
"Chamakh also offers much defensively."
Chamakh also offers much defensively speaking. Give a Premier League player enough time on the ball to look up and pick a pass more often than not he is going to find that pass. When Chamakh is on the field both he and his respective strike partner close the opposition down in tandem and high up the field. Defending high up the field does two things in the main. One, it gives the defence a breather and two, it makes the oppositions play more predictable and thus easier to defend. By closing players down the strikers are shutting down one or even two passing options for the player on the ball. This means they may now only have one passing option or they can lump it long. The one passing option is now clear and with a player like Mile Jedinak there is a good chance that he is going to intercept this pass and with the likes of Dann and Delaney at the back it is also likely that we can comfortably deal with a long pass.
In short, Chamakh is the key to our balance returning. It's not the Pulis has suddenly decided to play ultra defensive football, we simply do not have another player that can fill the boots of Chammers in the hole. He cannot return soon enough.
Man of the Match: Julian Speroni
Save after save and commanded his area to boot. With each passing week it is becoming more and more likely that they Argentinean will claim his fourth player of the year title in May.
Firstly, great numbers travelled up. Just under 2700 a mere week after we played Sunderland away is a fantastic effort so well done to all. Could we have been noisier? Definitely, but another long and narrow set up in the away end makes it difficult for the noise to travel from one side to the other and often ended with half of the stand singing different songs to the other half.
Newcastle fans seemed impressed, however.
On Newcastle fans, their home support is awful in comparison to their away support. Of course they haven't had too much to cheer about in recent weeks but that was a truly poor showing and another advert as to why away games are just so much better than home games in the eyes of a majority of fans.
Up Next: Chelsea
Sigh. Hopefully Mourinho and co will lose the plot and hand us a result as this is the only way that we are likely to get anything. Nothing against our players, nor is it a lack of belief. Merely, on their day they are just on a different planet to us and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
Come on you Palace.