Bou'mouth 2-1 Palace
Statman on the Official Crystal Palace Pod: “Bournemouth, they hate Monday’s. They’ve never won a Premier League game on a Monday. In fact, they’ve only scored once on a Monday.”
All Palace fans: “What’s that Bournemouth? You’ve never won on a Monday? You’ve only ever scored once in the Prem on a Monday? Don’t worry, we’ve got you.”
Another bit-part performance saw Crystal Palace fall to defeat on Monday night at the Vitality Stadium.
For a 25-minute period across either side of half-time, Roy Hodgson’s men picked up the pace and the passing and movement saw Bournemouth with their backs firmly to the wall. Sadly, we slowly dropped off and then handed Eddie Howe the win in the most infuriating of circumstances.
David Brooks had given the hosts the lead on 5-minutes with a lovely curling shot that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar. “I always tell my players to hit the ball with the instep when they are in the penalty area for greater accuracy,” said Frank de Boer during his analysis of the goal on Sky Sports. Remind me Frank, how many times did that advice pay off for you at Palace? Jamie Carragher instead focused on the defensive side of the goal and rightly so as it was way too easy for the Cherries to create the space for the excellent finish. Of course, last week they couldn't hit a barn door against Burnley yet as soon as it is against us, it's a 'top bins worldie!'
A couple of crosses flashed across the goal and a header ended up in the arms of Wayne Hennessey when either side of him and it was in. At the other end, a deflected Luka Milivojevic free kick was about as good as it got in the first half.
James McArthur: A series of unfortunate events
There were many reasons we were poor on the night, but the crux of it all was probably James McArthur. He was having a stinker, but because of his mentality, he refused to shy away from his responsibilities and it just got worse and worse.
The Scot skied an effort over the bar, blocked a Max Meyer shot, and, somewhat comically, blocked a Patrick van Aanholt run that would have seen the Dutch full-back away down the left in acres of space. Those are just three examples on a night in which everything he tried failed. It appears that form has now fully deserted the Palace number eighteen.
Luka Milivojevic’s Form
McArthur’s lack of form could finally see us field Kouyate (who lost his place to Meyer for this one), Luka and Meyer in the same starting eleven for the first time in the Premier League – most Palace fans have been calling for this combination since August turned to September.
The problem is, our skipper's form has dropped further down the cliff than McArthur’s.
I saw his passing compared to Mile Jedinak’s on social media and that is an outrageous accusation, even with him having a bit of a mare so far this season. In fact, his passes completed % this season is higher than it has ever been for Palace and he is averaging almost ten more passes a game this season than last season and TWENTY more passes a game than the season before.
This is probably the root cause of the problem.
Interceptions are way down, tackles and fouls are up for the Serbian. He is trying to be Yohan Cabaye, but he is not Yohan Cabaye. He is having to get on the ball way more often and having to abandon his natural game. But in Monday night’s match, we may have seen the saviour of our skipper’s form in Meyer.
Max Meyer – 96.4% Pass Accuracy
I know stats can be misleading, but no midfielder has out turned out those numbers in a Palace shirt in as long as I have been watching us play. Yes, a lot of the passes were sideways, but often they opened up the other side of the pitch as he attracted the opposition towards him before turning and finding the right pass. Basically, he is Yohan Cabaye and could surpass the Frenchman once he gets used to the pace of the English game.
If Max takes care of that hole in the team, Luke can resume his natural game alongside the German, but then comes the question…
It is very easy for people to say “play 442 with Townsend and Zaha up front” because it worked at times last season. People have short memories and seem to think that that setup had zero shortfalls. The problem with is, once opposition teams had started to plan for this formation instead of the 433 they were initially expecting, is that it was largely ineffective without Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
After Monday, I have no doubt that our midfield must include Meyer and, despite his early season form, he has to be alongside Luka. If we are going to play 442, then this means we have the narrow wide players that would be McArthur and then I am stuck.
Schlupp seems lost when playing there and I have absolutely no idea whether Kouyate could adjust his game to play there or not. You could force Meyer into the narrow-left position and play Kouyate in the middle, but I think both Meyer and Luka suffer in that shape.
Last season we played 442 out of necessity, I don’t think we should be playing that way this season.
Once Benteke is back, or if by some miracle Wickham can return and immediately find pre-injury form, it has to be 433.
There could be an argument for a 532 with Scott Dann joining Sakho and Tomkins at the back, which would see the two full-backs play as wing-backs, which would probably suit them better. This would probably function better than a 442.
What I think this all points to is that we still have no idea what our best eleven is and with such a tough run of games coming up, we’re probably not going to hit any sort of consistent form until Christmas, when hopefully all the creases have been ironed out.
Reading Our Patterns
A nod must go to Howe and his team of coaches for nullifying us going forward. Now, arguably, Jordan Ayew nullifies enough of it with his shocking movement. When he made his full debut at Huddersfield, I thought he looked good, but this was in a game that demanded a high energy press from him and little else. In this one, where we sat off we needed his movement to be cute, but he looked like a headless chicken. Maybe it is all about wavelengths and getting on one with his teammates, but at the moment he just looks like another joke of a signing up front for us in terms of being an actual threat in front of goal. I mean, there is a solid chance that he has already scored more goals against us then he’ll ever score for us – for the record, he’s scored two goals in two games against us.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the hosts and they had a full understanding of the patterns that we were playing. The biggest example of this was Ake constantly reading the times that we were looking for Ayew in behind. Without fail, the former Chelsea man read the trigger movement of either Townsend or Zaha dropping short and would then immediately drop five yards just as Ayew started to bend his run in behind. By that point, the striker was already running a race he couldn’t win.
The only time we managed to cause them problems was when we moved the ball far more quickly for that period just before and for 15 minutes after the break. At that time, we were far more unpredictable and managed to get the full backs into the game and looked far more dangerous. Unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain the pace and it culminated in us losing the game.
As for Sakho
The worst thing about the penalty situation was my friend Nick said to me as Mike Dean spoke to him prior to the incident; “Sakho should just punch him in the face.”
I agreed, the bloke, just like he had been in the World Cup match against England, was a twat. “But, ideally not in the penalty area,” was my response.
In comes the free kick, bang goes the arm, and there goes Mike Dean acting up to the moment.
It was the height of stupidity from Mama, who has now cost us three points in two matches. Surely, he is in a position that is supposed to save us points?
As furious as I was with him on Monday night, we know what to expect from him. Once every seven or eight games he is going to have a meltdown that will give the opposition a chance. This time it led to a goal, but you’re never going to hear me complain too much. All that keeps him from being a top-level centre-back is this flaw. I can handle the four or five times a season hiccup for the quality he adds the rest of the year around.
But as I said after the game, I still want Mama to pay our petrol money to and from the game!
The Mike Dean Show
Unlike most refs in the division, I actually have a lot of time for Dean. He is good a far higher frequency than all the others in the division. But he does have a shocker in him and this was one of them.
I don’t mean a shocker in that he got loads of decisions wrong. He got a handful wrong, most notably not booking Lerma for bringing down Meyer on the edge of the box. A booking for the Colombian early would have put his shit-housing tactics on the back burner for sure.
What I mean was how he failed to control the game, which ultimately ended with a big dust-up towards the end. Dean let the hosts get away with murder all night. Time wasting, throwing or kicking the ball away, tackles from behind, late tackles and more all went unpunished throughout the night which meant that I just shrugged when I found out that van Aanholt’s goal was offside.
At one point, and I checked it back on the TV because I am sad but also to check that I wasn’t being blinkered, Begovic held the ball for 13 seconds. That is more than double the time that he is allowed. What is the point of the six-second rule if you’re not even going to call it up after 13 seconds?
Anyway, I am not saying that Dean is the reason we lost. We lost because we were poor for two-thirds of the match, but his performance annoyed me.
Man of the Match: Wayne Hennessey
Despite larger periods of Bournemouth possession, the stopper didn’t have too much to do until the closing moments. He then brilliantly denied both Wilson and Gosling and deserved to be celebrating a point for his heroics at the end of the night.
It’s a big shame that he didn’t save the penalty as a save there could have seen a huge swing in his popularity within the fanbase.
Up Next: Wolves
I’ve watched them enough on TV this season to fear that they’ll probably beat us. It’s certainly not going to be the ‘walk in the park’ that a home game should be against a newly promoted team, that’s for sure.
Come on you Palace!