Palace 1-2 Man Utd

McArthur (66)
Pogba (45+2) Ibrahimovic (88)
Wed 14th December 2016
Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace suffered late heartache yet again as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two minutes from the end at Selhurst Park to secure three points for the visitors. James McArthur had cancelled out Paul Pogba’s controversial first-half injury time opener, capping off a fantastic team move on 66 minutes.

Fighting in the Stands Speaks Volumes

In moments after Ibrahimovic’s winner, fighting broke out in the back of the Holmesdale as Palace fans fought Palace fans. This fighting was not between pro-Pardew and anti-Pardew fans. It was between anti-Pardew and fans that do not believe the discontent should not surface while the players are battling on the pitch. Steve Parish’s match day programme comments seem to suggest that he thinks this sort of disagreement is born out of the former – and that is simply not true. In the programme he said:

“The fans, as usual, played their part with some amazing support, which only goes to show that some sections of social media really doesn’t always reflect the views of the majority of fans.”

In summary, backing the team means backing the manager – and that is wrong. I am supporting the team in spite of the manager at the moment, and I know that thousands of others feel the same way. Does Parish need us to start singing for his head to realise that time is up for Pardew in the minds of 95% of the fans? 

Alan Pardew: In Game Management

We can blame injuries, suspensions and poor refereeing decisions until we are blue in the face. The fact is, the way that Pardew is setting the team up is consistently wrong, and this was yet again the case in this match.

Firstly, we have arguably the best winger in the league in Wilfried Zaha and a centre midfielder in James McArthur that has been finding the net when playing at the point of the midfield. What does Pardew do? He plays McArthur on the right of midfield and moves Zaha up alongside Benteke. As a result, Zaha is mostly anonymous, and the industry of McArthur is wasted out wide.

Secondly, why on earth is he playing a two-man centre midfield when United are playing with three top midfielders. Matching Hull in a 3-5-2 was embarrassing enough, but going full circle and refusing to match a far more talented side from the start is just ridiculous. Yes, the goal was offside and handball, but they had plenty more chances and should have scored long before they did.

To then say post-match; “I thought we were better in the second half” is simply infuriating! The reason that we played better is that you moved back to a three-man midfield, stopped them from playing with freedom, and played players in their correct positions. It is hardly rocket science.

Alan Pardew: Substitutions

Then we have the choice of substitutions in the second half. Bringing on Zeki Fryers for Andros Townsend is an absolute disgrace. In fact, not playing Townsend from the start is a disgrace.

Yes, Townsend has been awful for weeks now, however, if Pardew knows that he is going to play Zaha further forward, why would he not give Townsend another chance on the right where he feels more comfortable? Playing Townsend keeps McArthur in the middle of the park and means that we don’t have to play Flamini as a holding midfielder. It genuinely is a myth that Flamini is a defensive midfielder. He is a centre midfielder who considers tracking back as optional, and he was run all over in this match.

With no Jason Puncheon, Ledley screening with Cabaye and McArthur in front would have been the perfect set up to battle the United midfield. Instead, Flamini looked lost, and Cabaye was running around trying to cover the gaps of three people instead of holding his position. People are suggesting that Cabaye played well, I think that he ran around like a headless chicken and United passed around him with ease. Sure there was the odd interception and tackle, but he was bullied by Pogba, evident by watching the second United goal. 

Back to Townsend and I dread to think how he must be feeling today. It feels like Pardew is punishing him by bringing on Fryers and that doesn’t sit right with me. Instead of giving Townsend a chance to shine in the position that he wants to play – he embarrassed him by playing a player out of position and then subbing him for a League One at best left back. That is wrong.

Then, of course, there is the now famous Pardew move – take McArthur off, concede immediately. What was he thinking to bring on another striker? If he was happy to piss players off, take off Benteke. Pardew happily slated his performance in the post-match presser so why not take him off and keep the five-man midfield? A point at home against United is good. Trying to give yourself a shot at the win and once again getting nothing is criminal.

Pardew is not learning from his mistakes. He is just arrogantly making them over and again. I know longer believe that we are too good to go down. I believe that we are very much in danger of going down and after spending as much as he has, that would be a travesty. 

Craig Pawson

In the “You Don’t Know What You’re Doing” article before the match, I noted that Manchester United had never lost a match that Craig Pawson had officiated. We now know why!

The blame can’t lie entirely at his door as his lino’s did him no favours, but as a unit, they were appalling.

First up, we have the Rojo two-footed lunge. That is twice in the space of a couple of weeks that he has been yellow carded when the entire world can see that it should be a straight red. Meanwhile, Mourinho laughably claims that he is a “clean player”. If United go down to ten men halfway through the first half, the game changes dramatically.

Second, it is the shit show that was the United opener. We don’t concede from set pieces, so clearly, there had to be something wrong. The replays showed, as well as the awful defending, that Ibrahimovic handled the cross (and he admitted it after) and that Pogba scored from an offside position. The first goal is crucial in Premier League matches, and the referee has now gifted the opposition the opening goal in consecutive games now. Another aside, Martin Kelly was booked for the foul that led to the goal – meanwhile, Rojo committed an identical foul in the second half and escaped a second yellow. Nice work, Craig.

Third, the Ledley handball. Now this is going to sound like I am completely biased, but is it actually a penalty? The rules state that it has to be a deliberate handball. Ledley was facing the other way. How can he deliberately handball something that he can’t see? Ledley has got himself into the most ridiculous pickle and his attempt to defend it was almost as embarrassing as ten grown men surrounding the referee, but I cannot see how it can possibly be a deliberate handball. On top of that, he was challenging Rojo who should have been preening himself in the changing room instead of threatening our goal.

Fourth, Ibrahimovic tried to take Cabaye’s head off with an elbow. It should have been a straight red card. So, a player that shouldn’t have been on the field scored the winner. I can almost guarantee that, incorrectly, there will be no retrospective action against him.

Finally, we have Mata’s disallowed goal. It was a terrible decision, but excuse me if my heart doesn’t bleed too much as the man headed it back across goal, Rojo. He should have already been down the Whitgift by this point, getting some late night Christmas shopping in.

So, with all of the decisions going the right way. Palace win 1-0 against nine men. More likely, however, is that when they go down to ten men we manage to lose 3-0. 

Man of the Match: Wayne Hennessey

The Welshman kept us in the game. He made solid saves from Rooney and Pogba in the first half and a quite stunning save from Rooney in the second. The Rooney one in the second-half was instantly after we had equalised – if we had conceded straight after scoring again, my head might have exploded, so thanks, Wayne.

Although, I am not sure that he should have been coming out for the second goal – I am going to let that slide this week.

Up Next: Chelsea

It never rains, but it pours. I predict a 0% chance of winning this game, going up to 1% if John Terry starts.
Come on you Palace

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Craig Pawson

Crystal Palace

Palace Manager: 
Alan Pardew


Opposition Manager: 
Jose Mourinho