Burnley 2-3 Palace
Crystal Palace overturned a two nil deficit against Burnley and took back all three points away from a snow ridden Turf Moor. A brace from Dwight Gayle sandwiched Jason Puncheon's equaliser as Alan Pardew made it three wins from three at the start of his tenure in the Palace hot seat.
The Eagles got off to the worst possible start conceding twice in the opening sixteen minutes, albeit under controversial circumstances. Ben Mee headed home from a corner after Julian Speroni decided to come only to get nowhere near the ball, however, the ball was clearly outside of the quadrant when the corner kick was taken and thus should have been retaken. This does not excuse the defending though.
"Arfield then clearly fouls Ward as he literally throws him towards the stand."
Danny Ings then made it two four minutes later but the talking point was the build up to the goal. Joel Ward attempted to usher the ball out of play but Jimmy Arfield put him under pressure and poked the ball into play. The first talking point was whether or not the ball went out of play or not. There are angles where it looks like it did and angles where it looks like it didn't so certainly a tough call for the linesman. What is clear is that Arfield then clearly fouls Ward as he literally throws him towards the stand but the referee does not blow the whistle and Burnley take a 2-0 lead.
Palace were arguably the better team despite falling two nil down and both the players and the fans kept the faith and a goal came just before half time and it was exactly was needed. Wilfried Zaha whipped in a perfect cross from the right and somehow James McArthur managed to fluff a tap in. The ball lopped up away from goal of the Scotsman foot and fell straight to Gayle who controlled perfectly and drilled the ball home.
Pardew's half time team talk clearly inspired his troops and it took less than three minutes to level the game after the restart. Puncheon ran at the Burnley defence before shooting low from the edge of the penalty area with his weaker right foot and into the bottom right hand corner.
"McArthur ensured that the turnaround was still on with a clearance off the line."
McArthur ensured that the turnaround was still on with a clearance off the line in the 77th minute before a searching cross from Puncheon was dummied by Glenn Murray, who had struck the post moments before, letting Gayle in one on one. His first touch was a little heavy and took him wider than he may have liked but his left foot drive across the keeper found the far bottom corner and the travelling support were sent wild behind the goal.
Alan Pardew and Tactics
Once again he proved that he clearly knows what he is doing, despite every Newcastle fan telling me that he doesn't have a clue.
We started with more of a 4-4-2 formation. It didn't work, we got overrun early and he immediately switched the formation to more of a 4-2-3-1 with Gayle and Zaha wide and Puncheon in the middle. Immediately we stopped the rot and looked like the better team.
He then switched Zaha out to the right from the left and we promptly scored as a result of a Zaha cross.
All decisions that turned the game in our favour.
Then Match of the Day showed the Premier League win percentages of the current British Premier League managers and alas Pardew sits in third place, just behind Harry Redknapp who he will surpass by the end of the season I am sure.
Newcastle fans will still tell you that it was nothing personal against Pardew though and that they wanted him out because he didn't know what he was doing...
I've said it before but it is quite simple. If he plays, he scores.
Since he signed for Palace he has scored 18 goals at a ratio of a goal every 102 minutes of playing time. This is a strike rate that anyone in the world, barring Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, would be proud of. It is quite frankly astounding that both Tony Pulis and Neil Warnock effectively overlooked the club record signing when considering these stats.
He is unerring in front of goal. Left foot, right foot. Blasted shots, placed shots. There is no messing about. He gets the ball and is always looking to get a shot away and finds the target 71% of the time. Factor in his pace and movement and he is a complete nightmare for defenders.
England will come knocking. It is only a matter of time.
I am 90% sure that he will be leaving in this window as teams are prepared to pay big money in relation to his age and, financially speaking, it would make total sense to sell. However, for the first time in the Premier League he is match fit and he is making a difference. With the exception of an outstanding Hugo Lloris save last weekend and the width of a post this weekend, he could be sitting on two goals in two and his usefulness to the cause would be more glaringly obvious.
He was instrumental in us getting the winner yesterday. His presence up top against a tiring Burnley defence was excellent. He did not give them a moments rest and he was causing mistakes as a result, allowing us to create several chances late on before his superb dummy/block on the mouthy little shit that is Kieran Trippier allowed Gayle to ghost in at the far stick and score the winner.
We are running around in this transfer window looking for a striker but maybe, just maybe, with Gayle and Murray we already have what we need to score the goals that will keep us in the division.
So how did he do? Whilst he didn't set the world on fire there were several glimpses that suggest to me that he will be very useful in the coming months. His hold up play at times was excellent and his ability to bring the ball down on his chest and lay the ball off to the advancing wingers is something that perfectly suits our style of play and personnel.
What also impressed me was how he already looked like he belonged with the group. At the end of the game he was in front of the fans celebrating with a massive smile on his face and not looking like he has been at the club for years. This is both a testament to him and the sort of players that we have playing for our club. A very together group... especially now that a certain Mr Warnock is out of the way.
Man of the Match: Dwight Gayle
It is a running joke between me and my friend Jack that I should always give MOTM to James McArthur. Believe me, I was close again this weekend. His clearance off the line was just as important to winning the three points as Gayle's second goal and his all around performance was once again imperious.
However, two goals and an (albeit generous) assist means that I can't look past Dwight. Mainly for all of the reasons that I have already mentioned above.
Watch the highlights and listen to the noise that we managed to make when that third goal went in. Then imagine the carnage as we all added a bunch of bruises to our shins on the solid wooden seats in the dingy away end.
It was a brilliant atmosphere, one that will live long in the memory.
That being said, if you can't create a memorable atmosphere when coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the last minutes then you might as well give up on football altogether.
Up Next: Southampton (FA Cup)
A rest from the league and back into cup action. LBC radio asked me after the game yesterday if I thought that we could win the FA Cup? "It would be romantic wouldn't it?" Ian asked me. "It would be romantic but football is a lot less romantic in the business world of football and it would be extremely hard." Even after an epic 3-2 win I couldn't bring myself to get carried away.
If we were to win the FA Cup it would be one of the most remarkable wins in the history of the competition, especially when considering that Pardew scored one of the competitions most iconic goals in red 'n' blue all of those years ago. There is still a long way to go though and this will be a very tough fixture. But a good win here and a nice draw in the next round, then anything is possible.
Come on you Palace!