Palace 3-1 Liverpool
Crystal Palace ended their five game winless streak on Sunday with a comprehensive win over the sinking ship that is Liverpool Football Club. Goals from Dwight Gayle, Joe Ledley and a superb free kick from Mile Jedinak cancelled out a second minute opener from Rickie Lambert as the hosts poured forward on the counter as freely as the rain poured from the skies.
Brendan Rodgers must have thought that his team were about to turn the corner as Lambert crept in behind Martin Kelly, facing his old club for the first time, to expertly control an Adam Lallana pass before coolly slotting past Julian Speroni to add to his ever growing tally of goals against the Eagles.
It was not to be the case for the visitors.
Many would have expected Palace to fold on the back of such a dismal run, however, the crowd remained buoyant and a rousing display of character from the home team saw them turn the game around.
The rampant Yannick Bolasie was catalyst for the equaliser as he combined well with Mile Jedinak before his low right footed drive skipped across the soaking Selhurst turf and cannoned off the foot of Simon Mignolet’s right hand post. In recent weeks the chance would have probably gone at this point for Palace, but this time Dwight Gayle was on the field. Displaying all of the instincts of a natural goal scorer the record signing followed the shot in and was on hand to tap home the rebound before sliding off into the advertising hoardings.
This was Dwight Gayle’s fourth career goal against Liverpool in only his third appearance against the Reds. Some record for a man who was playing non-league football just a handful of years ago.
Bolasie continued to torment the visitors and forced a solid stop from Mignolet, low down to his left and fired a vicious shot just over the Belgian’s crossbar.
Rickie Lambert then headed a half chance wide before Bolasie threatened again, this time galloping clear on the counter just like he did back in May. This time a neat one two with Jason Puncheon put him through on goal only to be denied by a great last ditch block.
It was like the final eleven minutes of the famous 3-3 draw last season only it was last for the entire game.
Liverpool huffed and puffed but lacked any penetration as the Eagles sat back, easily soaked up all that Rodgers’ men had to offer before selectively hitting on the counter attack with pace. It took some time but the second goal deservedly arrive in the 78th minute. A shocking free kick from Mignolet was shanked into touch and from the resulting throw in Bolasie completely embarrassed the £20million centre back Lovren with a chest control onto his knee and then a flick over his head that left the centre back eating wet grass. As the winger skipped towards the by-line it was the moment of truth. Could he find the final product that he so often lacks? He looked up, spotted Ledley who sauntered into the penalty area and picked him out with the perfect pass, allowing the Welshman to side foot the ball home, through the legs of the disappointing Mignolet.
Before Selhurst Park had finished its hysteric celebrations, it was 3.
Gayle and Skrtel both had hold of each other’s shirts but the referee, for once, favoured the home side with his whistle. Gayle jumped up and placed the ball. It was in an almost identical position from which he scored against Fulham in the last game of last season so he seemed like the natural candidate. No, the only candidate. Instead, Jedinak pulled rank and as he took his run up the upper tier of the Holmesdale prepared for impact. Instead the skipper inexplicably found the top corner of the net. “Scenes” is the only word I have to describe the resulting celebrations.
Dwight Gayle – He starts, he scores.
There is no arguing with that statement. It is fact. Walsall, Newcastle (twice) and Liverpool. 4 starts, 6 goals. Further, in those four games we have scored a total of 11 goals at an average of 2.75 goals per game. The games in which Gayle does not start? 11 goals in 9 games at an average of 1.2 goals per game. Stats aren’t everything, but that make pretty compelling reading.
Nobody else in our squad scores his goal. He sniffs out the ball and he puts it in the back of the net. It is a rare talent and one that we are wasting by having him on the bench.
It is not all about goals. I said in the South London Press last week that “38 0-0 draws would secure survival” so this proves that I am aware that there is more to the game than just goals. If he plays like he did against Liverpool then he simply cannot be ignored. His understanding with, the quite brilliant, Marouane Chamakh was excellent and his work rate was tireless. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with Gayle. Apply that sort of endeavour week in week out and there will be absolutely no excuse to leave him out of the team.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If he gets a consistent run of games, he will scores goals and England will find it very hard to ignore him.
Mile Jedinak – Beast
I am not even going to elaborate on his goal. Just watch the vine that has it on an endless loop. What I will say about his performance is this.
SEVENTY SEVEN POINT FOUR PERCENT OVERALL PASS ACCURACY.
And wait for it…
EIGHTY EIGHT POINT NINE PERCENT SHORT PASS ACCURACY.
If he starts putting up these sort of numbers on a regular basis then he might actually be able to make some claims to be the best defensive midfielder in Eurpoe… Ok, maybe I am getting a bit carried away but he is most certainly extremely effective at destroying stuff. If he can add a few subtleties to his game, then he is going beyond the realms of just effective.
Neil Warnock – Has he turned us around.
People who have been supporting Warnock through our mini crisis are calling for people that were opposed to the gaffer to re-evaluate their opinions. That’s a polite way of saying it was kicking off between the two sets of differing opinions. Sorry people but the answer is, no he has not turned it around.
Do not get carried away. Liverpool were awful and it was clear for all to see. Surely even Liverpool fans, who are known for wearing red tinted glasses, could not suggest that they were any better than awful. It genuinely was like taking candy from a baby.
I spat out a mouthful of cider when I heard him say “that was a Neil Warnock performance” in his post-match interview. Excuse me? It was exactly the opposite to a Neil Warnock performance and looked suspiciously like a Tony Pulis performance.
Chamakh sitting behind the striker and hassling the deep lying midfielder’s for ninety minutes, the striker doing the same in front of him with the defenders and two deep lying midfielders of our own mopping up whatever does get through. Chuck in counter attacks down the flanks with pace and it is a quintessential Tony Pulis performance.
Late on he bought on James McArthur to shut up shop and take a point. If you are going for the win you do not take off Jason Puncheon and replace him with McArthur. The commentator saying that it was an inspired changed as it meant that Ledley went out wide and scored as a result was nonsense. It was merely a matter of time before Liverpool caved in and I believe that Warnock bottled it only for the players to continue to believe.
This, of course, is just my opinion. You may agree, you may think I am being a miserable git. Either way, you cannot tell me that that sub was designed for anything other than taking the 1-1 draw.
I do not believe that he is the right man for the job and he will not be here past the takeover (that probably received a huge boost off the back of this result). However, if the players are willing to play for him like that every match then I will be less concerned during the time that he is in charge. If.
Men of the Match: Yannick Bolasie and Marouane Chamakh
I could not split them, for completely different reasons.
Yannick Bolasie is obviously the popular choice. He terrorised them, had end product and was in and amongst everything good that happened. His shot for the first goal was a thunderbolt with his weaker foot, his run for the second goal was outrageous and his haircut was god awful. But we will not hold that against him.
Merseyside must think that Yannick should be playing for Real Madrid. He ruins Liverpool and Everton on the regular. It must baffle them that he is still in SE25.
Arguably his best performance in a Palace shirt.
Chamakh on the other hand would be the purists’ choice. He ran a much publicised 12.4km, 0.6km more than anyone else on the field, and quietly went about doing almost everything right. His link between the midfield and attack was essential to the performance as was his advance defensive work. Steven Gerrard was never allowed to settle on the ball and he had to run off into unconventional areas just to get a touch and from there he was unable to affect the game.
For once, props to match of the day for picking up on this.
I have said this before. Technically the best player we have had since Attilio Lombardo and if you never saw him play for us, you better believe that that is praise of the highest order.
It’s always easy to get behind a 3-1 win but the atmosphere was first rate despite this. “We never skipped a beat when Lambert scored” repeated my drunken father over and over again after the match. He was right. We were behind them from the start when this early strike could have easily seen negativity creep in. Instead we plugged away and the boys responded.
On top, lovely touch from the HF with the banner for Joyce the Voice. I remember her well from my early years as a Palace fan on the coaches. A lovely lady and a Palace nut. RIP.
Up Next – Swansea Away
I am still in shock that we came away with a point last season so I suppose anything can happen, but it is a notoriously terrible hunting ground for us. I will be the never the less, loud and proud.
Come on you Palace.