Swansea 1-1 Palace
Crystal Palace continued to put the Sunderland debacle behind them with a well earned point at the Liberty Stadium. Mile Jedinak's penalty kick, his fifth goal of the season, cancelled out Wilfried Bony's opener.
Things could have been very different though.
In the opening 15 minutes the Eagles barely touched the ball and once Bony broke the deadlock Swansea looked set to run riot, before some seemingly unfortunate circumstances actually worked out in Neil Warnock's favour.
Lucky Warnock or new Warnock?
After his goal against Liverpool, Dwight Gayle was handed a second start on the trot. His injury just after the Swansea opener had us all thinking that the day was just going from bad to worse. Warnock, however, made what turned out to be an inspired change.
He replaced Gayle with James McArthur and the Scot completely change the game with his man of the match performance. I will speak more on McArthur later but first I want to ask this.
Was Warnock lucky with his change or had he envisioned the impact that McArthur would have on the match?
To completely answer this question we would need to know that Warnock would have made the change even if Gayle had not been injured. As we will never know the answer to this question I am merely speculating here.
So lets start with the, would he had made the change if Gayle was not injured? Based on experience I would say no. Warnock does not act with pace when it comes to tactical decisions. He tends to get the initial set up right, but he has time to plan this out. To make this change would have taken some great on the spot insight and then some balls to make the decision to pull Gayle so early in the game.
As much as I would love to bash at Neil as I genuinely do not believe that he is what we need, I have to give credit where credit is due. The obvious choice would have been to replace Gayle with Campbell. However, he saw that Swansea were running us over and that something need to change.
McArthur came on and we effectively started to play with two 'number tens'. Chamakh and McArthur were then able to get in and amongst the Swansea midfield and stopped them from easily using their natural width to put constant pressure on our defence. The transformation in fortunes then happened so quickly that Swansea could not respond. We started to get joy down the flanks as Swansea had already adopted a naturally high line down the flanks and, especially through Bolasie, we were able to get in behind them. Once to win the corner that led to the penalty and then once moments later which saw the ball bounce to the feet of Chamakh in front of goal. Better finishing and it would have 2-1 before the home side knew what hit them.
Swansea then responded by moving ten yards further back and then the game settled into a fairly even affair for the rest of the first half and a majority of the second half. Unfortunately Chamakh had to come off as he was clearly one more foul away from a red card and once Campbell replaced him Swansea started to see most of the ball again and we were perhaps lucky to then hold on as Sigurdsson went close twice.
So, fair play to Warnock for the change in formation but there was definitely an element of luck in how it came about.
This is a classic example of Neil Warnock not acting quickly enough. Puncheon was
having a complete mare yet was left out there for at least 15 minutes longer than he should have been and it nearly cost us as one too many misplaced passes nearly got punished by Sigurdsson.
Further, as soon as Wilfried Zaha came on he looked dangerous and given a little more time perhaps we could have come away with all three points.
As for Puncheon, surely it is only a matter of time before he starts to turn it on again? It is like the start of last season all over again, when he was awful. Lets hope he turns it on like he did last term as well.
88.9% passing accuracy! Apparently he has learnt how to pass when on international duty is Japan the other week. If he can find that sort of percentage every week then he might not be a Crystal Palace player for much longer!
Man of the Match: James McArthur
What a performance. He was truly outstanding. At some many points in the game he got us out of trouble with a fantastic touch or turn and changed defence to attack regularly with true Premier League level play.
At one point in the second half he released (I think) Bolasie down the flank with an outside of the boot, no look volleyed pass. It was so good that a few of us celebrated it like it like we would a goal.
He completely changed the game and is a worthy winner.
Yes! It was amazing. Non stop singing and constant support. It seems that there is something in the air in Swansea as we are always on form there... maybe it has something to do with the journey length and the amount of beers that can be squeezed in pre match.
Up Next: Aston Villa
These are the sort of games that we have to be winning if we want to be as comfortable as last season... of course we haven't lost at home on a Tuesday night since early 2010. Played 21, won 18, drawn 3... not bad at all.
Come on you Palace!