Palace 0-0 Swansea
Crystal Palace followed up their Boxing Day stalemate at Bournemouth with another against struggling Swansea City at Selhurst Park. The Eales have now just scored two goals in the six fixtures they have played between Christmas and the New Year, since returning to the Premier League back in 2013.
Brede Hangeland, in for Damien Delaney, Wilfried Zaha and Patrick Bamford all went close to finding the winning goal for the hosts, but Wayne Hennessey had to earn his clean sheet in stoppage time, saving well from a Gylfi Siguardsson free kick.
The draw sees Palace unbeaten in December, unbeaten in 6 top flight games for the first time since 1993, and will finish 2015 in 5th place. If the calendar year of 2015 had been a season, the Eagles would have finished in 5th place and qualified for Europe for the first time in their history. They are not there by accident and people should not be surprised should they finish in the same position come May – especially if they can continue to grind out results with the likes of Yannick Bolasie and Connor Wickham missing.
Patrick Bamford – Is the Abuse Justified?
With the football offering little talking point, Patrick Bamford stole the headlines when announcing to the press that he would be cancelling his loan spell with Crystal Palace and returning to his parent Club, Chelsea. The loanee had the best opportunity of the game but wasted the chance from twelve yards out, firing straight at Lukasz Fabianski when a yard either side would have been enough.
“This is my last game for Crystal Palace. If I am being honest, it has been terrible” said the youngster who impressed in the Championship with Middlesbrough last season. “Ideally, I want to stay in the Premier League are a few options to stay there, so now it is about assessing which is best.”
Meanwhile, at the same time as this interview, Alan Pardew was busy telling the press that “It’s a conversation that we’ll have with Chelsea. It’s one we’ve not had yet.” So, you’ve been discussing moves away from the Club instead of knuckling down and trying to fight your way into the starting eleven of Crystal Palace? In a professional sense, maybe Bamford does deserve some of the abuse that has come his way on Social Networking. If one acts like a spoilt brat and throws ones toys out of the pram, it will probably rub some people up the wrong way. Then again, he is young and frustrated with what he perceives to be a “lack of chances” so it is somewhat understandable that, when pressed by the press, someone of such a young age has let this frustration spill out.
Bamford may feel like he hasn’t been given a chance at Crystal Palace but he has to take a look at himself and ask ‘why haven’t I been given the chance?’ His first start for Palace came in a League Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town, who were struggling at the time to put any sort of result together, yet he flattered to deceive. He looked disinterested and failed to make an impact against a very low level defence, especially in comparison to what he would be facing in the Premier League – so what encourages Alan Pardew here to include him in the starting eleven?
All that Pard’s then has to go on is what he sees in training and if he perceives that he is not seeing enough there either, where does Bamford think that this chance is going to come from? Connor Wickham has missed a chunk of the season through injury, as has Dwight Gayle, yet Bamford cannot force himself past Fraizer Campbell in the reckoning for a starting place. Is that Palace’s fault or Bamford’s?
"I was frustrated because there weren't many strikers scoring. Connor [Wickham] only scored his first goal last week.
"As a striker, it might be short-sighted of me but obviously scoring goals is a striker's job. If you are not playing and the other strikers are not scoring and you are not getting a chance, obviously I was pulling my hair out."
"Connor Wickham, on the other hand, despite on scoring only one goal this season, is far more adept at bringing our dangerous players into play and sacrificing perhaps a greater goal return for the good of the team."
Yes, Patrick, it is very “short-sighted” of you and, perhaps by extension, a little bit baffling that we actually wanted to bring him in on loan. Since we have been in the Premier League, the role of our centre forward has been to bring in to play the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon to score the goals. To do this, the centre forward has had to play with their back to goal – Patrick Bamford looked more concerned with whether or not a strand of hair was out of place as opposed to battling with a centre back in that ill-fated start against Sherwsbury, and not much changed throughout his stay. In this match alone he pulled out of headed challenges twice as he shied away from the likes of Ashley Williams (who was brilliant, as an aside). Connor Wickham, on the other hand, despite on scoring only one goal this season, is far more adept at bringing our dangerous players into play and sacrificing perhaps a greater goal return for the good of the team.
"It was not until this match that we saw the player that Pardew talked about when signing him."
Pardew talked about the “extra quality” that Bamford would add when trying to break down teams at Selhurst Park this season as he can operate “between the lines” and “get in behind” – which is why he was “delighted that we beat of a host of rivals to his signature.” It was not until this match that we saw the player that Pardew talked about when signing him. On a few occasions he made very intelligent runs and would have had a tap in if it was not for a last ditch clearance from Williams, from a Puncheon cross. It was all too little too late, however, as it would have been even if he did find a way past Fabianski late in the second half, instead of firing straight at the former Arsenal stopper.
Let’s get one thing clear, Bamford is not a terrible player. You do not win Championship Player of the year if you are a terrible player:
2006: Phil Jagielka
2007: Jason Koumas
2008: Kevin Phillips
2009: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
2010: Kevin Nolan
2011: Adel Taarabt
2012: Rickie Lambert
2013: Matej Vydra
2014: Danny Ings
2015: Patrick Bamford
There are certainly no awful players on that list so there has to be something about the youngster, but it is clear that he is not a fit for Palace. Great players can play in a variety of set ups and offer an array attributes that enable them to do this. I do not think that Bamford offers talent across the board, however, put him in a set up that suits his style and he will thrive. Unfortunately that was never going to be at Selhurst Park.
I will end on this. Lay off of the kid on Twitter for crying out loud. Many of you are going on like he broke into your house and stole all of your Christmas presents. It didn’t work out and he is frustrated and said a couple of things in the heat of the moment that he shouldn’t have. We’ve all done it. In the words of that Disney movie that is considered to be a Christmas movie despite being set in the summer; “Let it go.”
Edit: Since, Bamford has posted the below to Twitter.
He finally turned up!
In the 16 minutes that he was on the field he managed to touch the ball twice the amount that he did at Bournemouth on Boxing Day. He got into dangerous areas and looked threatening as a result. My only criticism is that he shot when he should have put Cabaye through on goal – which is typical of us at the moment. Shooting when we should pass and vice versa.
See, I can praise him when it is needed. I still hope we flog him in January though.
Man of the Match: Joel Ward
Defensively solid whilst showing a willingness to overlap. His best game for some weeks.
Mentions must, however, also go to Mile Jedinak and Pape Souare who also put in excellent performances.
Up Next: Chelsea
With Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye (missing through suspension after picking up his 5th yellow card of the season in the final game before the cards are reset) and Connor Wickham all missing we could be in for a tough afternoon. Guus Hiddink would have had his first extended period of time with his new team and will have been able to get across what he wants from them so we are likely to see a slightly different to Chelsea to the team that we have become used to seeing this season. Poor fixture timing if ever I saw it.
One good thing is that it is the New Year, which means that Jason Puncheon will start scoring goals again. 1 goal before January since he has played for Palace, 12 goals after the turn of the year. Hopefully he will start early in 2016, just like he did in 2015 against Spurs.
Come on you Palace.