West Ham 1-3 Palace
Crystal Palace extended their unbeaten away record in the Premier League to a top flight club record of five matches with a convincing win at Upton Park. The Eagles had not lost away from Selhurst Park since December 20th 2014; seven games in all competitions. P-7 W-5 D-2 L-0 F-14 A-5. Not bad by anyone's standards.
A Glenn Murray headed brace sandwiched a Scott Dann headed strike as Alan Pardew's men took a three goal lead before Murray was sent off for a second yellow card. Ener Valencia grabbed a consolation for the Hammers but it was not enough to save his team from being booed off at full time by a half empty stadium.
This victory moves Palace 8 points clear of the relegation zone with only 11 games remaining. As Alan Pardew said in his post match interview "with Palace it's never easy. We're always gonna do something stupid." At the risk of tempting fate it would have to be "something stupid" on a pretty special level to get relegated from this position.
Glenn Murray - Chance Taken?
In the build up to this match I talked about how the door had finally opened for Murray for him to prove himself at last. With half of the strike force injured he was to find himself picked almost by default and he had to take his chance with both hands. Again, in typical Palace fashion, it is not quite that easy.
"In terms of goals and all around play it cannot be argued that he did not take his chance."
In terms of goals and all around play it cannot be argued that he did not take his chance. Until his sending off in the second half he was pivotal in some of the best attacking football that we have played all season. He held the ball well and bought players into play and then offered an outlet in the penalty area, something that we have often missed this season. On several occasions a slight better ball into the box and he was there ready to tap home.
Murray also makes us even more deadly from set pieces, as proved by his two goals from dead ball situations. With the height of Dann, Delaney and Ledley already in the mix, adding Murray gives the opposition another thing to think about. Yesterday's three goals takes our tally to 16 goals this season from set pieces equal with Arsenal for the most in the Premier League. On top of that he is a beast when it comes to defending corners as well.
However, there is the small problem of the red card. Instead of getting another run out at Southampton on Tuesday night he will now have to sit out the game suspended and by the time we play again Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo will be fit again and Glenn may have missed his chance to consolidate his starting place.
But with 3 goals in his last 2 appearances, he surely hasn't done his chances of an extended run in the team any harm at all.
On the sending off. He made four fouls in the game and was sent off. Zaha made 5 fouls and Bolasie made 4 yet neither were booked. The referee just seemed to have it in for Glenn. Then to moan further about it, the red card scenario should never have happened. The linesman put his flag up for offside in the build up yet the referee seemed to miss the flag and the linesman then decided to put the flag down! If they do their job correctly then the play is pulled back, the Murray challenge doesn't take place and he is substituted and avoids a red card.
The Mile Jedinak Incident
No matter how many time I have watched it I cannot find a way to defend him. It is an appalling elbow and he deserves the ban that will inevitably come.
I always look at incidents like this and think; how would I feel if it happened to one of our players. We have a direct comparison this season with the elbow from Craig Dawson on Julian Speroni. We were all furious that there was not red card and it got even worse when Dawson was not retrospectively punished for the elbow.
"Simply because Dawson was not retrospectively punished this does not mean that we can say that Jedinak shouldn't be punished."
However, simply because Dawson was not retrospectively punished this does not mean that we can say that Jedinak shouldn't be punished. Rules are rules and the referee clearly hasn't seen this incident and as a result it will not be in his report which means that the FA can, and will, punish Jedinak retrospectively with a four match ban. A ban that he deserves.
Yes it is infuriating that Dawson escaped punishment. Yes it is infuriating that Alan Lee escaped punishment in the promotion season for his elbow on Jedinak that broke our skippers cheekbone. However, two wrongs do not make a right, If we want to moan about Dawson/Lee, we have to accept punishment for Mile.
Man of the Match: Jason Puncheon
He has been an absolute revelation since he has been moved into the middle of the park and the scary thing, for other teams, is that he is still learning in this position.
It was not all perfect from Jason. In the first half he misplaced a fair few passes as his 55% Pass Accuracy stat attests to. Defensively his positioning was naive at times and West Ham exposed it.
"His decision making in the pocket is near perfect"
However, what Puncheon did when we were going forward was deadly. Time and time again he found himself in large pockets of space and his link play with Murray was superb. Three times he slotted Murray through on goal, once after Murray had pulled the ball out of the air and laid the ball off to Puncheon before spinning off into space, once after Puncheon correctly decided to drive into the space in front of him and once from deep as he spotted the space in behind. His decision making in the pocket is near perfect (7 Key Passes in the game) and West Ham could not handle it.
Then there is his dead ball delivery. It amazes me that we are the leading scorers from set pieces in the division as in my head we have wasted set piece after set piece all season long. Watching Gayle, Bolasie, Ledley and Puncheon all hit the first man time and time again has angered me on many an occasion this season, however, we are starting to get them right more consistently now and it is proving to be a massive weapon in our armoury. All of the crosses yesterday from Puncheon were dangerous and gave our attackers opportunities to attack. 6/9 crosses from Puncheon found their target at Upton Park, 3 of which lead to goals. 3 assists that sees him take a Premier League club record for the most assists in a game. When you're taking a record away from Attilio Lombardo, you know you're doing something right.
Advanced warning, Puncheon will not have it this easy every week. Teams will currently not be expecting Puncheon to play this role and would not be putting in extensive plans to deal with him. It might be a little bit too early for Southampton to deal with him on Tuesday night but after the 10 day break, teams will look to shut him down in that part of the field and that is when it might get a bit tricker for him. This is not a bad thing though. If they are closing down Puncheon, they are leaving space for Zaha and Bolasie to exploit which makes us a mouth watering prospect going forward.
Up Next: Southampton
Southampton are in a bit of a slump at the moment and with our current away form I am not so sure that a Palace win could be considered an upset. Of course the game will be tough but I am quietly confident that we could win for the second time this season at St Marys on Tuesday night.
Come on you Palace!