Man City 4-0 Palace
Crystal Palace suffered their biggest defeat since returning to the Premier League in 2013 against Manchester City at the Etihad. Two goals in either half saw the host cruise to a 4-0 victory but the result could have been very different.
With no goals in their previous four games going into the match, Palace are in desperate need of a goal and the drought should have ended early in this match. Connor Wickham put the ball on a plate for Damien Delaney with an inch perfect cross but the big Irishman put his header straight at Joe Hart when either side would have done the trick.
Wayne Hennessey, still reeling from his error at Villa Park on Tuesday night that saw him concede the only goal of that game, was in the spotlight again for all the wrong reasons. Fabian Delph let fly from range but, despite the ball being well hit, the ball was close enough to the Wales number one and a routine save looked forthcoming. Instead the ball squirmed under his hands and into the back of the net.
Palace did not bemoan their misfortune, however, and Yohan Cabaye tested Hart with a free kick before the England stopper nearly joined his opposite number in the error bin. He attempted to launch a quick kick down field but instead leathered the ball into James McArthur’s back. The ball dropped and Delaney reacted quickest but his slide tackle effort flew wide of the goal.
Then came the killer blow for the Eagles. Sergio Aguero hit a speculative shot from range that was heading straight into the arms of the Palace keeper. Scott Dann attempted the block the shot, as he so often successfully does, but the ball hit his head and found the bottom corner of the goal.
This time there was no response from the visitors and the match was already over before David Silva dispossessed Joel Ward and kick started a move that made the Palace defence look uncharacteristically woeful. City passed the ball across the edge of the penalty area, Pape Souare went to meet his man, instead of holding his position, and suddenly Kevin de Bruyne had the freedom of the penalty. The Belgian unselfishly squared the ball for Aguero to score his second of the match – not the sort of play I want to see from my Fantasy Football Captain, but I digress.
David Silva made it 4-0 late on, with City’s tenth goal of the season against Palace, and completed a 100% day. Four shots on target, four goals.
It’s a Funny Old Game
I actually felt a lot better about things coming away from this match than I did from Villa Park in midweek. We battered City for the first 20 minutes and, up until the second goal went in, were fully in the game. If Damien Delaney heads home instead of at Joe Hart, the game might turn out to be a very different one. Of course, we might have gone on to lose anyway, but at least the no goal monkey would have been off our back and this may have loosened everyone up a bit. A lot of “if’s” and “maybe’s” I know.
Alan Pardew on Wayne Hennessey
"Wayne is going to have to show me this week in training. A mistake at Villa, he needed to respond today and made another mistake.
"The ball is in his court to keep out the other two goalkeepers but I need to see it in training. I need to see a reaction from him."
Just when it looked like we had found our replacement for Julian Speroni, Wayne Hennessey goes and throws away two games in a row. Listening to Pardew, it sounds like that he may be returning to the drawing board. Alex McCarthy has had his chance, Wayne Hennessey has had his chance, is it now time to return to the old guard?
Player of the Month for December, Hennessey bought himself a bit of leeway that covered the mistake at Villa, but a second mistake within days has seen Palace fans blow their tops and calling for him to be axed. Whether or not he can show Pardew something in training remains to be seen, however, I am not sure what Wayne can do with regards to the error that led to the goal. Getting down to low and fast shots is a chink in his armour. At Southampton he twice did well to get down to these types of shots and I thought that maybe he had turned a corner, but yet again we have seen him struggle. If he continues to play, he will always struggle with that type of shot and we will see that error again from the big man, but if he can continue to make match winning saves like he did throughout December, maybe we need to take the rough with the smooth.
For the record, I am not sure whether I think that he should be dropped or not. My heart always wants Julian in between our sticks but I probably need to let that ship sail. Then if it is not Jules it is McCarthy and he has proved early on in his Palace career that he is also error prone. Maybe it is an area that we will need to look at in the summer if the mistakes continue from whomever is playing in goal.
Up Next: Tottenham Hotspur
It’s funny how the Premier League works. When you’re in form every game looks winnable. When you’re in a hole, every game looks like a mountain to climb.
This fixture last season was Pardew’s first league game in charge of the Club and is widely considered to be the game that changed our season around. Here's to some more of that!
Come on you Palace!