Palace 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool finally overcame their Selhurst Park hoodoo into the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup. Fraizer Campbell gave Crystal Palace the lead after the fifteen minutes, tapping home after Simon Mignolet could only parry Dwight Gayle's header before two goals in nine second half minutes saw Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana fire Liverpool to victory.
Gayle missed a glorious chance just before half time as his excellent first touch put him through on goal but his usual deadly finishing, especially against Liverpool, abandoned him and struck the ball against Mignolet. Prior to this Julian Speroni had to be at his best to deny Lallana.
In contrast to an open first half, the second half was dominated by the visitors and they comfortably held on for victory despite a flurry of late set pieces for the hosts. Liverpool will move on to the quarter finals and will consider the trophy as very winnable, meanwhile Palace can now 'concentrate on the league'.
Perception of this Fixture
Before I get into the game I want to take a moment to look at the way each set of fans appeared to view this fixture.
In absolutely no uncertain terms our club is still at the stage where we have to consider ourselves as the underdogs when playing Liverpool. For some reason it did not feel like this in the build up to the game and Palace fans were not the only ones to blame for this.
"Liverpool’s recent shortcomings at Selhurst Park have been widely publicised"
Of course Liverpool’s recent shortcomings at Selhurst Park have been widely publicised but the fact of the matter is this is a team full of players that have been purchased for eight figure transfer fees and finished second in the Premier League last season. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day but these kinds of results are an exception to the rule. Liverpool should be, at all times, aiming to win this fixture.
Yesterday Palace fans went into the game expecting to win and Liverpool fans went in expecting to lose and as a result the outpouring of joy from Liverpool fans at the end of game, both in the stadium and on social networking alike, was hilarious; if you managed to keep true perspective on how the result of this fixture should turn out 8 times of 10 at this current stage of both clubs existence.
Mark Bright summed it up on Twitter very succinctly: “Well done, good luck in the quarters… ease down on the celebrations though, (you) beat Palace no Bayern Munich.”
“TAKE THAT AND YOUR F***ING COMEBACKS” screamed one very prominent Liverpool fans based Twitter account.
Perhaps we should be taking this as a compliment of how far we have come since our promotion. However, I cannot help but think that this is also reflective of exactly how far Liverpool have fallen since the departure of Luis Suarez.
Good Start, Poor Finish.
Well this was a novelty for us. We started the game well and finished it poorly. This was only the third time we had taken the lead since Alan Pardew took over (Dover Athletic and Leicester City). Taking Dover out of the equation, we started very poorly against Leicester and could very easily have been behind at half time so you can still consider that as a slow start with Leicester simply too poor to punish us.
With Pardew openly trying to alter our style of play it is clear during this time of change we are struggling to piece together a complete 90 minutes performance during this transition. What is promising, however, is that we are still managing to get results out of these games despite the disjointed nature of the performances.
Even yesterday we could have came away with the win. Julian Speroni made an equally brilliant stop in the first half but if Gayle slots the ball past Mignolet just before the break then we very likely hold on and progress.
"If we can start to piece together full match performances we certainly will not be stressing about relegation come May."
The outcome of this game got me thinking twofold. If we do not start to piece together full game performances then we might see the result start to go against us. Margins are small in football and it only takes luck drying up a little bit to see pivotal moments in games go against you. Maybe a few weeks ago Gayle’s shot sneaks under Mignolet and Sturridge’s goal hit Speroni and bounces away from goal instead of into the goal. On the flip side of the coin, if we can start to piece together full match performances we certainly will not be stressing about relegation come May.
Jedinak and McArthur
I think it is clear to all how much we missed these two in the second half of this match. Joel Ward, playing in central mid in McArthur’s absence through injury, simply did not plug up the holes that Jedinak and McArthur do and often led Joe Ledley exposed as he tried his best to put himself about in defensive midfield.
I do not subscribe to the suggestion that we have not missed/do not need Mile Jedinak. It is utter nonsense in my eyes and he walks straight back into the team once he is fit. He does an invaluable job defensively and is making strides in developing his game (he has both added goals and assists to his outputs for example). Sure he is not the greatest passer in the world and in an ideal world his 67% pass accuracy stat would be closer to McArthur’s at 76% (which is still too low for my likings) but consider this.
Jedinak: 5 Goals, 2 Assists, 3.6 Tackles per Game and 3.8 Interceptions per Game.
McArthur: 1 Goals, 0 Assists, 3 Tackles per Game and 2.3 Interceptions per Game.
Ledley: 2 Goals, 0 Assists, 2 Tackles per Game and 2.1 Interceptions per Game.
My love for McArthur will be well known to you if you are a regular reader of this website and I am also a big fan of Ledley. However, (yes you can prove anything with stats) the fact is Jedinak is outperforming both Ledley and McArthur in all of the key areas other than passing. For people to write off his importance to the Palace midfield is laughable in my opinion.
Man of the Match: Pape Souare
I am not suggesting that this was the perfect performance by any means. Yes at times he left his flank a little bit exposed, yes he misplaced some passes. What I found promising is that I could see the player that he will become once he has adapted to the speed of the English game.
I also enjoyed the “I’m not having it” attitude that he bought to the back line. Never did he back away from a Liverpool player that tried to intimidate him and this is needed in a defensive line. He stood up for his teammates, notably when Sturridge tried to pull Gayle up from the ground, and looks like he, in the words of Nigel Pearson, “can look after himself”.
A rough diamond has been unearthed.
Michael Owen Commentating
Are commentators not supposed to be neutrals?
Dwight Gayle goes over easily and Owen castigates the Palace striker. Mario Balotelli dives and Owen calls it “good forward play”.
Michael Owen, Robbie Savage, Phillip Neville… how do these people actually get jobs as pundits? Simply being an ex footballer should not be enough.
Nothing to write home about. In fact, HF aside, probably one of the very worst this season. That being said, half the Holmesdale seemed to be Liverpool fans so it is hardly surprising that they would not join in with Palace related songs.
On the displays: loved them both. The Pardew banner looked incredible and the “Stop Premier Greed” display was needed in the wake of the ridiculous money that exchanged hands for TV rights during the week. More great work from the HF that will receive little focus from any of the big media outlets, however, one person throwing a coin receives a millions inches of column space.
Up Next: Arsenal
The start of a tough mini period is underway. Arsenal home, West Ham away and Southampton away is not easy for anyone at the moment. Anything more than 3 points from these three matches and we can consider that a decent haul.
Come on you Palace!