Palace 1-2 Chelsea
Crystal Palace narrowly lost to league leaders Chelsea in a heated affair at Selhurst Park. Damien Delaney and Cesar Azpilicueta were dismissed in the first half after Oscar had given Chelsea an early lead with a fantastic free kick.
The home side made a bright start Fraizer Campbell going close before a Yannick Bolasie cross was almost turned into the net by a Chelsea player. The resulting corner was somehow not converted by Brede Hangeland, all of which was omitted from the Match of the Day highlights.
Cesc Fabregas doubled the lead early in the second half but arguably he should not have been on the field. In the aftermath of the Azpilicueta sending off he threw Campbell to the ground. The linesman saw the incident and by the letter of the law he should have seen red, only to escape with a booking.
Campbell bagged his third goal of the season, tapping home a low cross from substitute Wilfried Zaha in the final minute of normal time but there was to be no more late drama.
Reality Check: Tactical Shortfalls Part 2
I spoke at length in the Hull match report about the tactical shortfalls that Neil Warnock possesses, especially around substitutions. Unfortunately, we experienced the same shortfalls again yesterday.
In his post-match comments Neil Warnock said that he was going to change Delaney for Adrian Mariappa before he received his red card. This would have been a great idea, if true. Delaney had clearly lost his head after the award of the free kick for the first Chelsea goal, a challenge in which he clearly won the ball. Delaney was always going to be sent off. However, Mariappa did not warm up at any point. He was sat on the bench for the entire half, so I find it hard to believe that he was ready to make this change.
In the second half he did make some changes and got them wrong.
In the second half we lined up with James McArthur at right back, as Martin Kelly tucked in to centre back to fill in for the missing Delaney. James McArthur to right back. Really? Joe Ledley has played many games at left back in his career. He has played left back in the Champions League. He is very accomplished in that position. Meanwhile, we have one of the best right backs in the country playing at left back. Surely the sensible move is to put Ledley to left back and switch Ward to right back.
Instead, McArthur gets sucked out of position and Fabregas takes advantage to score. Mourinho called the goal “a scandal” on Match of the Day. He is right, only the scandal was Warnock’s decision and it made that goal look a lot better than it actually was. Candy from a baby comes to mind.
Warnock then replaced Ledley with Mariappa and moved Kelly back to right back. Perhaps this is why Warnock tends to only bring on strikers as he doesn’t actually understand defending. Ledley looked gobsmacked that he was being replaced.
This was essentially a wasted substitution as moments later McArthur picks up a knock and is then replaced by Adlene Guedioura. If he had moved Ledley to left back in the first place he could have achieved the same result with just one substitution, meaning that he couldn’t do “what he does best” and throw strikers at it when we needed to chase the game.
He then replaced Jason Puncheon with Wilfried Zaha and put Campbell out wide right and Yannick Bolasie through the middle. I am sure that he would have wanted to replace Bolasie at some point in this game after his international exploits. Instead he ends up playing the full 90 minutes because of the wasted substitution.
Do not even get me started on the fact that we ended up with one of the worst finishers in our team playing up front when we need goals to get back into the game.
Into the last fifteen minutes Chelsea started to visibly tiered and with better substitutions we might just have got something from this match.
Referee: Craig Pawson
I don’t know why I let it anger me. I KNOW that when we play against the “big” teams we are going to have to suffer a referee that will favour them but this was just ridiculous.
Outsiders will probably ask what I am moaning about. On the screen he would have appeared to get most decisions right by the letter of the law, but it was the tone of his decisions through the match.
He would basically let Chelsea players get away with everything, yet book Palace players for the same things. The Terry and Delaney challenges were a perfect example of one rule for Chelsea and another for Palace. Delaney’s challenge was rash but from the side. Terry went straight through the back of Campbell which makes it a far more dangerous challenge yet it went unpunished. Arguably Delaney got booked here for dissent after the decision. Fine if that is the case, but what about when Ivanovic disagreed with a decision. Held on to the ball, stopping Palace from getting on with things quickly and screamed at the ref whilst gesticulating in his face. Where was his yellow card?
He told Eden Hazard three times to get up after diving. Great. You have spotted the dive, so why are you not booking him?
Fabregas threw Campbell on the ground. Violent conduct is a red card is it not?
Then with the Delaney sending off it is utterly clear that he had no intention of giving the Irishman a second yellow until he was surrounded by Chelsea players. Yes Palace players surrounded the referee when Azpilicueta fouled Mile Jedinak, but that was because he had gone studs up and two footed through our captain. The Australian was lucky that he didn’t end up with a broken leg. Damien merely gave a little tug that Remy made the most of before looking like he wanted to cry in order to get the red card.
Man of the Match: Joel Ward
After a poor match at Hull he was back to his best. Up and down the pitch whilst never looking stretched defensively. If only he was playing at right back.
Up and down with the referee contributing to ruining it at points. Every time it was starting to build the referee made a decision that angered the Palace fans and took the efforts away from singing and towards abusing Craig Pawson’s ineptitude.
Up Next: West Brom
An actual big game. A repeat of last season’s FA Cup third round would be lovely.
Come on you Palace.