Palace 1-2 Watford
Crystal Palace’s winless run in the Premier League extended to nine games in yet another frustrating afternoon at Selhurst Park. This was the eight home defeat of the season, and the fifth in a row without a win for the first time since the end of the 2011/2012 season, contributing to the third worst home record in the Premier League. The Eagles haven’t gone six without a win at home in the League since 2001 – ‘Fortress Selhurst’ is a distant memory.
Troy Deeney scored twice, the first from a controversially awarded penalty, the second when finding himself completely unmarked late in the second half, with the strikes sandwiching Emmanuel Adebayor’s first goal for the Eagles on the stroke of half time – moving him to 97 Premier League Goals, just 6 goals behind levelling Didier Drogba (who scored his first PL goal at Selhurst Park) as the all-time leading African Premier League scorer.
“Frist half, we didn’t play well” said Alan Pardew. He’s not wrong. Whilst Watford did not create a great deal of chances, they were fully in control of the game and only Adebayor’s outstanding header meant that the hosts came in level at half time.
Despite Crystal Palace’s poor first half showing, it could be argued that they were unlucky to fall behind. Deeney and Mile Jedinak engaged in some grappling in the penalty area and Robert Madley decided that Jedinak was fouling the Watford skipper. This exact same “foul” happened hundreds of times up and down the country this weekend – not one was given as a penalty on any other occasion. Meanwhile up at Goodison Park, Gareth Barry still has hold of Jedinak’s shirt.
Adebayor and Jordon Mutch both went close at 1-1 and Yohan Cabaye struck the post and Joel Ward headed over from just eight yards out after Deeney had scored his second of the match.
The afternoon only got worse for the Eagles as full back Pape Souare was sent off for a 94th minute two footed lunge on Behrami.
Pardew’s Hit and Miss Substitutions
In the first half Pardew started with Conor Wickham on the left with Mutch in behind Adebayor. Wickham’s positional discipline was awful and often drifted inside the pitch to make a two with Adebayor, with Mutch covering the flank meaning that the formation often ending up like a 442. As a result the Watford midfield three were able to take control as the swarmed all over Jedinak and Cabaye.
At half time Pardew took off Wickham and bought on Lee. Palace then dominated the first half an hour of the second half with the half time introduction of Lee Chung-Yong offering a more natural balance to the midfield. With a foil on the opposite flank to Wilfried Zaha and with Mutch completing a midfield three for Palace, just ahead of Jedinak and Cabaye, Palace were able to stretch Watford for the first time in the match. Only one team looked likely to find a winner and they were not wearing yellow.
Then, with eighteen minutes remaining, Pardew decided to take off Mutch and bring on Fraizer Campbell. The substitute moved up alongside Adebayor and all of a sudden we were back to 442. Up until this point in the half Palace boasted 72% (SEVENTY-TWO) possession. After this it dropped down 55% as the Watford midfield came back into the game and Watford used this new found possession to create a winning goal.
How on Earth Pardew and his team came to the conclusion that Campbell for Mutch was the right substitution for the way the match was going is beyond me. Sure Mutch was “getting tired” but surely the natural substitution would be Marouane Chamakh. He could have seamlessly settled into the number ten and Palace would have continued to dominate the possession and, with the added guile of Chamakh, would have had a good chance of winning the game.
In the 18 minutes + 5 minutes stoppage time, Campbell touched the ball 4 (FOUR) times. There is absolutely zero chance that Chamakh would have let the game pass him by like that.
I cannot hide my disappointment and worry about what Pardew was actually seeing to believe that that was the right substitution.
And they continue. Damien Delaney below par yet again. Wayne Hennessey giving Pape Souare suicide balls and aiding his sending off and, the worst of all, Joel Ward defending like a seven year old at the back post for the second goal. Somebody please tell me where he was going? Delaney and Scott Dann are in front of him, two giants defending one man, and he decides that they need help and leaves Deeney unmarked at the back post. The ball gets flicked into that area and the Watford man probably could not believe his luck.
There will be one enforced shake up with Souare missing through suspension, but Delaney and Ward really do need to pull their socks up as their positions should be under threat from Hangeland and Kelly. If they’re not, then it is another area to moan about not strengthening in the transfer window.
How did Emmanuel Adebayor do?
He was completely ineffectual in the first half, as the entire Palace attacking unit was, yet the first time that he got any semblance of good service, he found the back of the net with a towering header.
In the second half he was often the focal point of all of our attacks and he linked up play well. There is still rustiness there with a few layoffs, for example, ending up a yard off the pace, and getting caught offside five times when was infuriating, but there was more than enough in the second half to be encourage by.
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
One of the big Palace journalist, Ed Aarons, called his performance “frustrating”, but I could not disagree more. Once we got the ball to him in the second half, he beat his full back regularly and twice laid on great chances, first for Adebayor and then for Ward with the last touch of the game. If both of these chances were put away like they should have been, everyone would have been raving about his performance. Still by far and away our best player at the moment.
Up Next: Spurs (FA Cup)
So many times in my Palace supporting past I have seen us pull out astonishing cup results out of the bag when struggling in the league. I may be clutching at straws, but it is all I have at the moment.
Come on you Palace?