Sund'land 2-2 Palace
Crystal Palace’s run of ten games without a win came to within stoppage time at the end of the match from ending only for Fabio Borini to steal a point for the hosts in the last minute.
To not win eleven matches, luck is clearly not on your side and it once again deserted the Eagles in the 36th minute. Dame N’Doye hit a tame shot from the edge of the box that was heading straight down the throat of Wayne Hennessey, as did all of the hosts’ non-goal scoring shots on target, but the ball took a huge deflection off Scott Dann and found the back of the net.
After an even first half, Alan Pardew’s half time team talk clearly gave the players what they needed as they emerged for the second half with an intent to pass the ball and attack. Just after the hour mark, this yielded the goal they so craved. Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie combined and found former Sunderland striker Connor Wickham just inside the penalty area. His first touch wrong footed his defender and his second was a stunning right footed effort that swung away from Vito Mannone and in off the far post.
The ex-player curse was then realised again just six minutes later when Dann challenged for a Jordon Mutch corner and Wickham reacted first to the loose ball and thundered home a brutal left footed volley. Boos filled the Stadium of Light, punctured only by the small travelling support way up in the heavens who sung his name with gusto for the first time since he joined the Club in the summer.
The visitors had chances to put the game to bed but substitutions, made to replace tired players, ruined their momentum and gave Sunderland the opportunity to push for the equaliser. It looked like the Eagles had done enough but Borini’s cross come shot freak of an effort flew in at the back post and both sides were forced to settle for a point.
Yohan Cabaye’s Drop in Form
There have been rumblings across social networking of his downturn in form but his performance last night, or lack of it if you were prefer, appears to have given people a license to feel brave and criticise the Club record signing for the first time.
Since injuring his heel and being in and out of the side for a couple of weeks with slight knocks and a suspension, he has not been the same players. Personally, I attribute this to the injury of James McArthur. The two of them have clearly built up an understanding with each other and Cabaye has complete and utter trust in his midfield partner. When McArthur is not on the field, Cabaye does not seem to have this trust in any other player that plays alongside him in the middle and is making himself look awful as a result.
When playing alongside McArthur the Frenchman rarely seemed rushed, he did the simple thing all the time and kept us ticking over. This was helped by the movement of McArthur in and around him, always giving him the option of a pass. Cabaye would happily give McArthur the ball even if the Scotsman was under pressure as he knew he could cope. He doesn’t want to give the ball to Mile Jedinak or Joe Ledley because they give it away more often than not and as a result he is trying to beat men or make more outlandish passes that look for Zaha or Bolasie earlier than he should be looking to pick them out. As a result he is getting caught in possession or gifting possession back to the opposition with wayward passes.
"This is unacceptable and will see you quickly fall out of favour with most Palace fans."
I also do not think that he has been helped by the lack of protection for the referees. Surely it is only a matter of time before his ankle is snapped in two as referees are simply allowing players to roughhouse him with crunching tackles without punishment. This has clearly been frustrating him and it seems to have bred a feeling within him that he cannot get a single decision in his favour. This boiled over last night when he attempted a through ball that was clearly handled by a Sunderland player. The ref waved play on and instead of tracking back he sulked and walked back whilst Sunderland attacked. Pardew was furious on the side and waving him back. The only reaction it got was he moved from a slow walk to a jog that was barely any faster to the naked eye. This is unacceptable and will see you quickly fall out of favour with most Palace fans. After all, we, as a group of fans, seem to value effort over any other trait – just look at the rise in popularity of Jordon Mutch because he puts in a lot of effort.
Cabaye needs to just get on and play his natural game and stop forcing it as without him firing, our midfield is far the worse for it.
Man of the Match: Connor Wickham
I think the only smile bigger than mine since he has started scoring is Wickham’s girlfriend who has been turning up to every game and sitting with the fans to support him. I nailed my colours to mast where Connor was concerned before he even joined the Club [as demonstrated in the video below].
Yes, I am here saying “I told you so.” Many Palace fans are all of a sudden munching on humble pie, however, I will warn you against thinking that he will score a lot of goal all of the time. He quite simply will not. Remember that he is still only 22 years old and learning his position. His talent was wasted at Sunderland by him being forced out wide and now, for the first time in years, he is going to be playing solely as a number nine. Give him time. Don’t get on his back when he goes five or six games without a goal because he does so much more for the team than score goals – and I think that it is gibberish to say in today’s vastly tactical game that a strikers only job is to score goals.
"5 goals in 12 Premier League starts this season."
Wickham now has 5 goals in 12 Premier League starts this season. Comp that up and you’re looking at 15 goals a season. Throw in the fact that he is also up there with our leading assisters and we have one very effective centre forward. Pardew said after the game that “he’s been unlucky this year, he’s had injuries and suspensions at crucial times” and he is right. He has never been able to get an extended run in the team and has not been able to completely settle as a result. Wickham said when he arrived that “he has never played with ‘out and out’ wingers before” so with each passing week we will see an understanding grow between Zaha, Bolasie and Wickham and we can expect to see some exciting, attacking football.
Up Next: Liverpool
We have been victorious over the Reds in our last three league meetings, scoring eight times in those three matches. Surely there is no better team in the division to end our dismal run against.
Come on you Palace!