Palace 1-2 B'nemouth
Crystal Palace’s losing streak climbed to five games in the Premier League as newly promoted Bournemouth came from behind to win at Selhurst Park. Scott Dann gave the hosts the lead, brilliantly improvising to volley home Wilfried Zaha’s powerful centre, to become the first Palace player to put the ball in the back of the net in a League game since Chung-Yong Lee’s long range winner at Stoke back on December 19th – ending a 567 minutes plus stoppage time run of blanks.
The Eagles looked to be in cruise control, stamping out the rare counter attacking forays of the Cherries, but the warning signs were there when Benik Afobe managed to make an effort on goal look more like a clearance just before the Palace opener.
Just seven minutes after Dann’s strike, Marc Pugh somehow managed to twist and turn his way through a wall of Palace defenders and find the bottom corner to level the match. Then after Bournemouth played their way around Jordon Mutch 12 minutes into the second half, they received a beneficial rebound from an attempted Mile Jedinak Interception, the resulting shot was well saved by Wayne Hennessey but the ball fell straight into the middle of the penalty area and Afobe was on hand to head past the stranded Hennessey.
"Between 2003 and 2016 Crystal Palace had lost on only three occasions after scoring the first goal at Selhurst Park"
Between 2003 and 2016 Crystal Palace had lost on only three occasions after scoring the first goal at Selhurst Park. They have now managed to achieve this feat in consecutive home games – and it is not that surprising. Up until the end of 2015 Alan Pardew’s men were boasting the second stingiest defence in the Premier League. Since they have slipped to 10th place in the goals conceded table as where teams once found a stubborn wall, they are now confronted by an empty ‘Connect 4’ board. Further, once they get through the defence, more than every second shot is finding the back of the net. In 2016, 54% of shots that have hit the target of the Palace goal has found a way past Hennessey. Take out the Spurs game, where the visitors hit the target with several speculative efforts from range straight down the goalkeeper’s throat, and this number jumps to 64% - This is a recipe for disaster for a team that boasts only one, penalty, goal from a recognised striker.
It is OK to be mad
Steve Parish has said that he wants Palace fans to stop thinking like Palace fans. Less doom and gloom, more believing that we belong in the upper half of the Premier League. We cannot be told this on the one hand and then not expect to be annoyed when we lose five in a row, culminating in taking the lead at home against a newly promoted team that have not come from behind to win all season long. We have failed to beat three of the bottom five on four occasions in our last 7 league matches (Swansea, Villa and Bournemouth twice) this is the epitome of doom and gloom.
I KNOW that this blip is temporary. We have been lucky with injuries in our first two seasons back in the Premier League. Practically nobody was out for any considerable amount of time between 2013 and 2015 and nobody that was key got crocked. Now it appears that all of our injury luck has deserted us and we are suffering as a result. With Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham, all fully fit, in our starting eleven there is no way that we suffer a 7 game winless run in the league. But they are not fit. Then, to add insult to injury, Jason Puncheon simply cannot find any form and we are left with Wilfried Zaha beating his man almost every time, but then looking for just the one man, usually the poor at finishing Fraizer Campbell, that has managed to make it into the penalty area, up against several defenders.
This has led to everyone showing further frustration at the lack of activity in the transfer window, as our problems in front of goal are still not going away. Parish has also told us that we cannot stand still. He argues that we did not with the addition of Emmanuel Adebayor, and this could turn out to be the case, however, it is a fact that it is a gamble (albeit a worthwhile one in my eyes) and could end up backfiring and then we are, sort of, back to where we started.
I say ‘sort of’ as eventually all of our players will be back. Wickham misses one more game, Bolasie (reportedly) two more games and Cabaye should be back for the weekend. With these additions it is not unfeasible that we could be up to 9 points better off come March 2nd, leaving us all wondering what we were all so pissed off about in the first place.
"I do not want to see people constantly harking back to the fact that we were in Administration just six years ago."
Things are very delicate at the moment and the last thing that the Club needed, after what was perceived by many to be a terrible January transfer window, was to throw away a lead to Bournemouth at home. While I do not think that everything is an unmitigated disaster, I do not want to see people constantly harking back to the fact that we were in Administration just six years ago. One of the men that “saved us” has said himself that we should be leaving that in the past, so let’s do that. Instead, accept that things are not good enough at the moment but understand that a perfect storm has occurred against us to cause this. Leave it until March 2nd to make a full judgement. If we are still on 31 points by that point and everyone is back fully fit, then we can start to get really worried. Until that point, personally, I am pretty relaxed, if not a little frustrated. Especially when considering that it looks like we are going to fail to take advantage of one of the most open Premier League's since its incarnation in 1992.
The Untouchable Jason Puncheon
This might sound awful, but I hope that the injury Punch sustained last night keeps him out for a few weeks. He needs a rest. Playing him through his bad form is clearly not working and his ‘New Year Super-Juice’, that has led to goals in the past two seasons, has clearly not worked this season. He needs a rest as people are now starting to forget the player that he can be and are seeming to genuinely believe that he is terrible.
Pardew shoulders the blame here. Puncheon is trying his heart out. I watched him closely in the Stoke cup game and the frustration is written all over his face with every bad touch he takes. It is in his head and he needs to be taken out of the firing line in order to get his head straight.
"For the first time, Pardew was booed on a mass scale by the Palace fans."
For the first time, Pardew was booed on a mass scale by the Palace fans. Taking off Chung-Yong Lee instead of Puncheon was criminal. The South Korean was opening all sorts of doors for us with his link up play and flicks, meanwhile Punch was getting dispossessed and working himself into half chance shooting situations, all of which were comfortably blocked. Then, just as our luck goes at the minute, moments after our last substitution, Punch pulls his hamstring and we are practically playing with ten men (although many have argued that merely having Punch on the field at the moment is like playing with 10 men). How Pardew thought that taking Lee off was the right substitution is beyond me. It couldn’t have been tiredness as there was clearly still energy in the tank. Moments before the substitution, Lee overlapped Puncheon into the penalty area and a simple pass from the Palace 42 would have seen Lee through on goal. Instead Puncheon decided to shoot into a crowd of Bournemouth defenders and, unsurprisingly, the ball was blocked.
I love Jason Puncheon. I want him to succeed. Butting hanging him out to dry is not the way to do it. Give him a rest, Pards.
Man of the Match: “The Unprotected” Wilfried Zaha
I saw people calling him petulant last night. This is so misinformed that it is beyond ridiculous. five years ago, Wilf would be looking for a fight after the second time that he was fouled in a game. He has grown up a lot since then and his temperament is unrecognisable to the teenager that kicked out at Portsmouth to see red all those years ago.
"Last night’s reaction was a build-up of weeks of not getting protection from referees."
Last night’s reaction was a build-up of weeks of not getting protection from referees. He has been kicked, hacked and manhandled over and again and is getting free kicks only a third of the time that he should be and the offenders are getting yellow carded on an even more infrequent basis. It is, quite frankly, a disgrace.
When we played down at Dean Court in December, Harry Arter tried to break Zaha’s leg. Then a series of Bournemouth players continued to fly in on him for the entire game. Yet Arter got the protection in that game from the referee. He only booked him and then Bournemouth substituted him at half time. Francis Coquelin got protection from the referee at Selhurst earlier in the season, he should have been sent off but the referee gave Wenger the option to substitute him instead of sending him off. Meanwhile, Dwight Gayle got sent off for three innocuous fouls earlier in this season against West Ham. You can see why it ends up with Pardew saying that someone would need to be “murdered” for a red card to be shown to an opposition plater. If I am not mistaken the last time that a player was sent off against Palace in the league was Cesar Azpilicueta back in October 2014 – but even the referee made up for it moments later for sending Damien Delaney off for just his third foul of the game.
Zaha was booked for dissent in this one. Yet four Bournemouth players surrounded the referee trying to get Zaha booked a second time for diving. Did any of them get booked for dissent when so outwardly disagreeing with his decision, in no different a fashion to how Zaha did when he was booked? Of course not.
Multiple times Zaha was fouled, the ref would wave play on, the Bournemouth player would wait for the referee to turnaround, push Wilf, the crowd would scream, the ref then turns around and sees Zaha in the face of the offending player. Sure Wilf should be wiser, and I thought that it was a good job that Mile Jedinak was on the field as he put an arm around him and helped him through it, but I can understand his frustration. Especially considering it was against a team that has now tried to actively injure him in two separate matches
I don't know why I let it surprise me. Mike Jones allowed James McClean to nearly kill Jonathan Parr once with any retribution. He is as incompetent as Clattenburg.
Despite all of this abuse from the Bournemouth players he was still bay far and away the best player on the pitch. If we can now help him out by actually giving him more than one player to aim at in the box, that would be great.
Up Next: Swansea
They have come to life in recent weeks and, as with many of our fixtures in recent weeks, we are probably facing them at the worst possible time. Here’s hoping for the rub of the green that helps us pick up a result.
Come on you Palace!