Palace 2-0 Burnley
Crystal Palace gave Burnley a footballing lesson at Selhurst Park on Saturday. After weeks of “playing well” but with little to show for it, everything came together for Roy Hodgson’s troops. Even if the visitors had scored every shot they had in the game they would have only have come away with a point, and that goes only part way to describing the dominance that the hosts enjoyed.
The only downer that can be placed on the Palace performance is the shot conversion rate. With only two goals to show for the twenty-nine shots that rained down on the Joe Hart’s goal, the cross some shot that found the far corner and a world-class strike perhaps glossed over the otherwise poor finishing.
James McArthur made a good point when Chris Grierson posed, “29 shots on goal, it could have been a massive scoreline.”
“Yeah, I think if we were further up in the table, with confidence of scoring goals then it would have been a lot more today. Maybe because you’re down the bottom of the table they don’t seem to go in, but 2-0 with an amazing performance, we’re all very pleased in there.”
Hopefully, Andros Townsend’s incredible strike will give the rest of the team the confidence that we need in front of goal.
Why Were We So Dominant?
At the risk of sounding smug, I suggested that it might happen on the Back of the Nest Preview Podcast. After the suggestion that we should play Sorloth to compete with their big centre back pairing I said;
“It might be better to work between the lines on them instead, pull them out of position and play around them… if we put in anywhere near the level of peformance we did against United we’ll have a great chance of running them over and maybe even scoring as many as three!”
Although I did then predict a 0-1 loss, so I probably can’t take it.
Basically, rigid 4-4-1-1 formation that Burnley fielded couldn’t handle the fluid movement of what could be described as a multitude of formations. The quick movement of the ball in the middle of the park dragged Burnley all over the shop and this helped create overloads for fun, notably with Patrick van Aanholt often having the freedom of the left-hand side.
Wilfried Zaha spent most of the game on the left and on the flank is where Wilf is at his best. However, when he came into the centre, Burnley’s defensive unit got confused and this opened up all sorts of passing lanes that we exploited.
Luka Milivojevic and Cheik Kouyate have started to form a very good partnership in the middle of the park, and it is key for the rest of the season that these two gel together. What also helped them play in such dominant fashion was the industry of McArthur and the willingness of Max Meyer to take the ball from them no matter what sort of pressure he was under.
In the absence of a striker, it is key that the midfielders get into the box and McArthur and Kouyate were the ones that often popped up in the box to try and get on the end of balls. Zaha almost laid a goal on the plate for later, but it was just an inch too far in front.
Man of the Match: Max Meyer
The key to the entire performance was our little German. He was popping up all over the field, spraying passes or dribbling, shooting or tackling. His game had it all and this is not surprising when he was able to play in effectively his preferred position for the entire match.
On another day, he gets a touch onto McArthur’s goal, and his curling effort finds the far corner and he has two goals to show for his masterclass in the middle.
Andros Townsend’s Goal
It would be amiss not to touch on the wonder strike that was the game clincher. Somewhat hilariously, moments earlier he had hit a similar effort almost into the upper tier of the Holmesdale, so most people were groaning when he shaped up to shoot on this occasion.
Sitting two-thirds of the way up in Block B of the Holmesdale, the angle for me was perfect. As soon as it left his left-foot we knew it was in and the celebrations were wild.
The Return of the Holmesdale Fanatics
Talking of Block B, the HF returned for the game. Whatever your thoughts are, and it looked like there might have been some sort of protest against them by a solo fan towards the end of the game, it cannot be denied that the atmosphere was infinitely better than it has been in any other game this season.
Is it just a coincidence that it coincided with our best performance of the season?
Up Next: Brighton
It’s the big one and we’ve hit form just in time. A repeat of this performance and bragging rights will be ours yet again.
Come on you Palace!