West Ham 0-1 Palace
If there was any doubt left that Crystal Palace would be playing Premier League football next season then they have been completely eradicated now as a fifth straight league win MATHEMATICALLY ensures Premier League survival for the first time in the clubs history.
This was a record equalling and breaking day for the Eagles. Five wins in a row equals Palace's best ever run in the top flight and for the first time the club has won three consecutive away games at this level, beating West Ham at Upton Park for the first time since 1992. It is quite "remarkable" as Tony Pulis keeps saying.
"This wasn't perhaps as free flowing as the victories that have preceded."
This wasn't perhaps as free flowing as the victories that have preceded but after playing at Everton on Wednesday night and with Marouane Chamakh missing out through injury, as well as Joel Ward, Adrian Mariappa and Yannick Bolasie all facing late fitness tests, it was a testament to the resolve of the Palace squad and their desire to keep this run going.
West Ham were out of the blocks quickest in this one and Andy Carroll headed just over under pressure from Scott Dann before Palace found their feet. Bolasie continued his fine form on the flank and a self earned corner was whipped in by the Palace number 7 only for Kagisho Dikgacoi, back in the side for the injured Chamakh, to see his header cleared by Carroll.
The biggest chance of the half fell to Carroll but his powerful header from six yards out was somehow saved by Julian Speroni who continues to push for a World Cup spot with Argentina and moments before had saved well from Pablo Armero.
"Allardyce's men didn't adjust."
West Ham started the second half like they did the first and Carroll dragged a shot wide and as the hosts poured forward looking for the opener they started to leave gaps in behind. The Hammers had a warning sign just a minute before the goal as the away side broke clear only to misplace a pass only Allardyce's men didn't adjust.
"Mile Jedinak stepped up and smashed the ball into the top corner."
Suddenly Cameron Jerome was in behind the West Ham defence but on the byline and with no support in the centre. The strike made a move into the box, Armero hung out a leg and Jerome was felled giving the referee the simple of task of pointing to the spot. Mile Jedinak stepped up and smashed the ball into the top corner to give Palace the unassailable lead.
West Ham would huff and puff for the remaining half an hour but Palace looked the more likely on the break and I am sure that every person is attendance is still unsure how at least one of Bolasie, Puncheon, Ledley or Jerome didn't make it 0-2 in one of the best goal mouth scrambles of the season.
"Palace are now on the brink of the top half of the table."
Palace are now on the brink of the top half of the table and many fans are finding comments made about Tony Pulis' side before Christmas. Betting firm Coral are perhaps the ones left with the reddest fances:
"Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for Crystal Palace, they've just appointed Tony Pulis as manager."
I wonder odds they are now offering on Pulis being named manager of the month for April and manager of the season.
"The Stats Don't Lie"
Well actually they sometimes do. I am a big fan of stats. In my real life career I am an analyst so spend my life in numbers. Analysing Palace under Pulis is not easy to do by looking solely at the numbers and yesterday was another classic example of this.
"Palace were forced to make 78 clearances."
West Ham had more possession (65%), more shots and more shots on target. Further Crystal Palace were forced to make 78 clearances in yesterday's match, the most by any single team in the league this season, yet with the exception of two short periods in the game there was no denying that Palace were the better team.
"We dominate games without the ball."
Over the past few weeks what Pulis strives for from his teams has been working perfectly. We dominate games WITHOUT the ball which arguably more impressive than dominating games with the ball. To dominate without the ball you have to run further than your opposition and you have to uphold ultimate positional discipline. It sounds simple but is very difficult to implement but if you can implement it then the rewards are there to be seen through our recent run of form.
"None better than Jedinak to score the goal that officially keeps us up."
One example of where the stat don't lie under Pulis is the output of Mile Jedinak. He has now racked up 142 interceptions this season, which is over 20 more than anyone else in the top 5 european divisions. Of course Mile's passing leaves a lot to be desired at only 71.6% on the season but his ability to break up play and dominate the midfield, which one him Palace player of the year last season in a year that Glenn Murray scored 31 goals, has not faltered in the step up from the Championship to the Premier League. None better than Jedinak to score the goal that officially keeps us up.
What a little bitch. I am sorry but for someone so big and so strong and is not shy about throwing his attributes around, he knows how to moan when similar treatment is dished out to him.
Sam Allardyce suggested that West Ham should have had a penalty when Carroll was blocked off in the penalty area yet Andy Carroll spends his entire time blocking players off. Of course when he does it though he is "standing his ground."
If he goes to the World Cup we might as well just give up now.
And more generally on West Ham. My God they are poor. My neck is still aching from having to look up in the air all day long yesterday! No wonder the home 'fans' booed their team off yesterday.
You don't need Moody's spying to know that they are going to give the ball to Tomkins and he is going to punt it long to the head of Carroll.
Boring!! And that is coming from a fan that supports a Tony Pulis team.
Man of the Match: Julian Speroni
It is funny how I have given this award to Bolasie in the last two games and the press have not. Now they award it to Bolasie and I am throwing it elsewhere. Perhaps I just don't have a clue, which is entirely possible.
"That save from Carroll."
Like any of the recent matches you can pick from a list, The aforementioned Bolasie was superb, as were the entire back four, Jedinak and Jerome. The reason I go for Speroni is two fold. Firstly that save from Carroll, which was right in front of where I stood for the match, was just phenomenal. By being placed behind the goal I could really capture the reflexes that were needed as the ball was travelling much faster than the TV made it look.
Then there was the command of his area. Every time he came for a cross he got it and, again being so close meant that I could hear, his communication with his back four has vastly improved.
It is getting boring saying this every week now, but he HAS to go to the World Cup. If Argentina aren't going to take him, England?
Good but we had that division that can occur when the travelling support is so big. Two sets of loud fans on different sides of the stand singing different songs. That being said, it was still incredibly noisy and at the full time whistle the united nature of the team and the fans was a sight to behold.
Up Next: Man City
Why not? The title has gone. Their players will be thinking about not getting injured before the World Cup. Perhaps another upset is on the cards.
Come on you (Premier League) Palace!
Take a boat down the Thames for the last game of the season at Fulham.