Palace 0-1 Villa

Benteke (32)
Tue 2nd December 2014
Selhurst Park

A frustrating night at Selhurst Park culminated in a first loss at home on a Tuesday night since March 2010 for Crystal Palace. A Christian Benteke goal was the difference the two sides as the Belgian took advantage of some abject defending and side footed home the winner from the edge of the box just after the half an hour mark.

The hosts enjoyed more shots, more corners and a whopping 46% possession but could not find a way past Mr Gamesmanship, Brad Guzan, in the Aston Villa goal. The American saved everything that was on target and produced a master class in time wasting by going down at every opportunity possible.

Time after the time Palace wasted opportunities to get balls into good areas from the flanks and one of only two occasions that the ball was put into the right area, referee Michael Oliver, not for the first time, missed a blatant tug on a Crystal Palace player in the six yard box and yet another stonewall penalty and red card in front of the Holmesdale was not awarded.

This is what playing us must be like

I know that I sound bitter and a lot of it flows from the frustration at losing to a relegation rival at home yet again this season. The referee WAS appalling and got several important decisions very wrong. This I will remained annoyed at. As for Brad Guzan, goalkeepers will be goalkeepers and I can say this because I am one.

Having taken a step back though I look at the game and I think, this is what playing us must be like. Sit deep, soak up attack after attack, steal a goal on the break and then defend for their lives. It was like us under Pulis.

Our own medicine did not taste that good.

Sunderland Mark II

The reason this medicine didn’t taste so good was because we made the same errors against Villa that we made against Sunderland.

For a majority of the season we will be able to sit deep and hit teams on the counter. This is a perfectly sound game plan on the grounds that there are many far superior teams to us in this division and if we try to take the game to them they will rip us apart.

However, there will be times this season that teams have no interest in taking the game to. They will want to hit us on the counter. Now, we have earned that respect through getting some great results at Selhurst Park in the last year. Teams undoubtedly see it as a difficult place to come and will attempt to soak up the pressure.

Having witnessed us sit deep for near on a season and a half now, the times that we have been beaten in this period is when we have been pulled apart by quick passing and movement that disrupts our shape and creates the chance for the opposition to score. To achieve this you will need players with vision and execution of pass.

We have only two players that possess this kind of passing talent in the final third. Jason Puncheon and Barry Bannan. The total playing time of these two players in the Villa and Sunderland matches totalled 15 minutes, made up of two late substitution appearances by Puncheon.

Surely Warnock and co new that Villa were going to come and sit deep, just like Sunderland did? Surely they must have realised that the way we played against Sunderland did not work? Surely we wouldn’t employee the same tactics as we did against Sunderland against Villa?


Asides from Puncheon and Bannan being able to play more intricate and inventive passes than anyone else, perhaps McArthur aside, in the team and potentially possessing the ability to unlock stubborn defences, to not have at least one of them on the field to deliver a set piece when we are wasting set piece after set piece is just shocking game management.

We had to watch free kick and corner after free kick and corner either hit the first man or sail into the hands of Guzan. Now reread that last sentence and replace Guzan with Pantilimon and you have the Sunderland game in a nutshell.

In life I live by one rule above all others. Never make the same mistake twice…

Do try to take on this mantra, Neil.

“We need to gamble more”

Neil Warnock is making of a habit of making quotes post match that leave me completely gobsmacked. I am not talking about his seeming want to rival Ian Holloway as a clown by playing up to his audience. No. It is in the most simple of sentences.

Post Liverpool he came out with the gem that was; “that looked more like a Neil Warnock performance” which literally could not be more outlandish. Now he is saying that “we need to gamble more.”

Er. You are the manager, Neil. That is your decision to make, or not make as is so often the case. If you are standing there thinking “if we really went for this we could have ‘em” then do something like make an attacking substitution before the 89th minute.

After the 70 minute mark Aston Villa didn’t even attempt to venture into our half. It was lump the ball clear, regain shape, wait for next onslaught. Surely this is the queue to take off a defender and chuck another body into the mix up top?

Or you could just leave on two full backs that couldn’t shoot their load.

What did United do to Wilf?

This is not me suggesting that we need to send Wilf back to United. Quite frankly that thread on BBS has only re-highlighted to me that we really do have some idiot fans. In the main, Zaha played really well. He defended when required, he looked a threat when he got on the ball in advanced areas and he forced Guzan into a very solid save.

What I mean when I say “what did United do to Wilf” comes from that moment in the first half when we broke out and Wilf got the ball on the halfway line with an empty pitch in front of him. The Crystal Palace Wilf, roared on by the Holmesdale, would have headed straight for goal and roasted whoever tried to tackle him. The United Wilf tried to cross the ball after getting halfway into the half and over hit it by a mile.

Now, was Zaha at training watching the likes of Ryan Giggs hitting 70 raking cross field balls and is now thinking, “I can do that” or have they just sapped all of the confidence out of him?

I would like to think that it is the latter.

The problem with this is, he is NOT going to regain his confidence here if our own fans start to get on his back. This rarely happened before. Zaha and Bolasie would always try tricks in that promotion season. Sometimes they would come off and sometimes they would not. As long as they are doing it in the final third in an attempt to create a goal scoring opportunity, they were backed, win or lose with the dribble. Last night, half the stadium was on his back from the first bad cross. It is safe to assume that you are the clubs that believe that we were reformed in August 2013 after an 8 year hibernation.

In short, please crawl back to whatever suburb you come from and watch on TV instead. You’re not welcome here.

Were there any positives?

It is hard to draw positives from losing a game against quite frankly shocking opposition. They were arguably the worst team to visit Selhurst since our promotion and they have effectively left without us ever fully stretching Guzan. A team that hadn’t won in their previous 8 games.

I will suggest that our endeavour was a positive. We didn’t let up on trying to go for it. Of course the execution was poor but the players looked like they really wanted to get something from the game. Which is a positive, if a soft one.

Man of the Match: James McArthur

Our best player on the pitch, but a shadow of the player he was at Swansea. Which probably tells you a lot about our performance against Villa.

Up Next: Spurs Away

They always seem to struggle against the rubbish teams at Quiet Hart Lane. Except when it us. I’ll take an early surprise Christmas present though.

Come on you Palace.

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Michael Oliver

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Neil Warnock


Opposition Manager: 
Paul Lambert