Palace 2-1 Chelsea
Crystal Palace finally put some points on the board with a scintillating display against defending champions, Chelsea, at Selhurst Park. The returning Wilfried Zaha scored the winner on the stroke of half-time which had large pockets of South London waking up with hangovers on Sunday morning.
The beautiful thing about the win was that it was deserved. Roy Hodgson got the team organised over the international break and then shocked us all by playing 4-4-2 with Andros Townsend and Zaha up front. The result was a confused Chelsea who took a good forty minutes to come to terms with Townsend and Zaha swarming all over them.
The only surprise by the end of the ninety minutes is that the margin of victory was only one.
What a difference a Speroni makes
"I've missed this."
A lot of the talk has been about the return of Zaha from injury, but to everyone associated with Crystal Palace knows that the return of Julian Speroni to the starting eleven was just as, if not more, important.
Wayne Hennessey failed a late fitness test and Jules started his first Premier League game in eighteen months, becoming the oldest player to play in the Premier League this season – a record we have taken away from Bruno of Brighton.
When the Club legend walked towards the Holmesdale just before kick-off, the entire stand climbed to its feet and burst into song and rapturous applause. This meant that the crowd was raring to go by the time the first ball was kicked and Chelsea were left faltering in the starting blocks.
Throughout the game, Julian only had routine stops to make, but the key was the defenders in front of him. They trusted him and could play their natural game, without worrying what was going on behind them. For starters, they did not have to concern themselves with short passes out that could put them under pressure. 38 of Jules’ 42 passes in the game went long.
Speroni filled the defence with so much confidence that Mamadou Sakho thought he could back heel clear the ball in stoppage time…
That is now three games, three wins for the Argentinean this season. Quite simply, Speroni must retain his place in the starting eleven.
Run and when you can no longer run, run some more
The effort that the front seven put into this game was next level. Zaha, Townsend, McArthur, Cabaye, Milivojevic and Schlupp did not stop running and were visibly dead on their feet by the end of their respective games.
Luka ran nearly 12.5kms and was a tackling machine. McArthur was not far behind him and was near faultless on the ball. Schlupp harried Chelsea players non-stop and forced them backwards at every turn. Townsend seemed to be everywhere.
To see every player on the pitch giving 100% and work for each other was a joy to behold. It has been too long since we’ve seen this.
After being shown up in embarrassing fashion so many times at Old Trafford, this was a good comeback for the full-back. Hardly anything came down his side and he produced an outstanding overhead clearance in the first half that denied Eden Hazard what would have been a very good chance.
Patrick van Aanholt
Unfortunately, I do need to tinge this article with a little bit of negativity. I cannot believe we spent £15m on a left back who considers defending to be ‘optional’. The way he “defended” the corner that Chelsea scored from was laughable. He looked like he had never seen a cross into a box in his entire life. I thought Sakho was going to rip his head off.
Then, it is 2-1 with only stoppage time left and he is popping up as the furthest player forward, eight yards from goal and missing an absolute sitter. Get back on the halfway line and defend for crying out loud. I say that, but if he was back there, he’d only be playing the opposition onside, so it might be a good thing that he was so far forward.
With Pape back and Schlupp in reserve, we should cut our losses and free up some funds to spend in other areas of the team. We won’t, of course, but we should.
What did they day on Match of the Day?
Danny Murphy: “There’s no way they are going down.”
A changing of tunes I see.
Meanwhile, on Goals On Sunday when showing the Zaha goal:
Chris Kamara: Why doesn’t he [Zaha] do that every week?
Sam Allardyce: He does.
I’m not Sam’s biggest fan as regular readers know – but thanks for putting him in his place.
Man of the Match: Yohan Cabaye
This was a hard award to give this week, but when a player of Cabaye’s quality has put in what is arguably his best display in a Palace shirt, it is hard to bestow the award on anyone else.
To have 82 touches against a team as good as Chelsea (only three Chelsea players had more touches) is obscene. He was constantly in the game, intercepted the ball 6 times and completed 90% of his passes. Those are “elite level” numbers.
He will not get the goal, but he made it happen and he deserved the serenading that he received from the whole of Selhurst Park just after the goal. Well played, Yo.
Ian Dennis – BBC Radio 5 Live Sport
“I swear every single Crystal Palace fan has risen to their feet. I do not think there is a better atmosphere in the Premier League than Selhurst Park.”
Our fans have definitely gone off the boil in the last season and a half and the title of the best atmosphere in the country had slipped in my opinion. However, we were back to our near best yesterday. The last five minutes of the game were incredible and Speroni even mentioned in the game that it was key to helping us hold on to the lead.
When we are the underdog, there are no better fans in this country, that is for certain.
Up Next: Newcastle Away
This is Crystal Palace, so I fully expect us to lose this 3-0 with a shocking performance.
Of course, I kid. The only way is up from here.
Come on you Palace!