The M23 Showdown

Crystal Palace travel to Brighton and Hove Albion tomorrow night in what will be a pulsating showdown between two arch enemies in the Premier League.

Dating back many moons ago to the days of Alan Mullery and Malcolm Allison, the M23 rivalry has intensified to extreme hatred and bitterness between the two clubs. The AMEX Stadium is set to play host to the first derby game between Palace and Brighton in the Premier League era.

The home side will likely be slight favourites after enjoying an excellent debut campaign in the Premier League so far. Defying expectations and more than holding their own, Albion look at home in the Premier League and have become a more steady outfit than their arch rivals Palace this season. Brighton will be buoyant by their recent impressive form, despite falling short of luck in an undeserved 0-1 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday. They sit comfortably in mid-table and will fancy their chances tomorrow evening.

Palace, however, will be brimming with positivity themselves. Mamadou Sakho’s dramatic late winner against Stoke City at the weekend saw the Eagles finally secure a second league win of the season and are now breathing down the necks of the sides above. Considering expectation levels and confidence in recent weeks, the South London side should be desperate for a win which will do miracles for momentum.

A one-off fixture and a highly emotional game, both sides should be wary of a derby fixture and the implications of defeat. A win would make Palace’s season whereas a defeat for Brighton may shatter their confidence.

Palace will be delighted to see the return to fitness of many of their previously missing stars as the injuries begin to dry up. Christian Benteke is back in contention for a starting spot after returning from a two-month lay-off. Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha may continue up front with a midfield four behind them. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Yohan Cabaye have been a revelation in midfield recently with James Tomkins returning to partner Mamadou Sakho at the back.

From a Palace perspective, tomorrow’s game will be a test of our players’ progression since Hodgson took over. Despite results slowly improving and stronger performances by the week, it would be foolish to jump the gun and get ahead of ourselves. Every time things begin to look rosy, it goes back down to the bottom with anger and pain. We should 100% be confident of winning tomorrow, but so should Brighton. On our day, if we show up and turn in a performance we know these players are capable of, we should win. The luck has to change our way at some point. Against Stoke, maybe there was evidence it was?

Let’s believe in ourselves and take the points. 1-2 COYP.

Who Palace Need To Buy In January

After the first quarter of the Premier League season, Crystal Palace find themselves staring up from the basement of the table. With survival prospects fading, what would it take for Roy Hodgson to save the Eagles in January? Or if relegation looks certain by then, should Palace start planning for the second tier? Let’s consider how they could still save their dire season…

If unreliable rumours are to be believed, Steve Parish is ready to give Hodgson a £40 million war chest to spend in the winter window. As promising as it seems, why on earth did they not just spend the money in the summer? It makes absolutely no sense and surely seems unlikely, despite giving Sam Allardyce a similar budget last January. Let’s say, in this market, we are given £25-30 million to spend. This is what we should hope to get…

ST – Beginning with the obvious, Palace currently have no strikers available for selection besides the inexperienced Freddie Ladapo. Probably the most inexplicable scenario in recent times, a top-flight football club has had to play without a centre forward in the most competitive league in the world. Enough of the moaning, it speaks for itself. Even when Christian Benteke and the injury-prone Connor Wickham return from injury, Palace are playing a risky game in a tricky winter period. At the very minimum, a high-level forward must come in to offer an outlet and something different for the side. If possible, Hodgson would be wishing to recruit a further addition on top of that, too. I’ll leave it to our infamous scouting system to find the right ones. £10 million each? Or one £15-20 million hotshot?

GK – The return of club legend Julian Speroni has steadied the ship in recent games, but in reality, the 38-year old Argentinian is riding off past glory. Undoubtedly a leader and inspiring figure in goal, it would unfairly be asking too much for the miracle worker to save us again. A football club needs three first-team goalkeepers to compete with one another, so it’s not at all surprising that Palace only have two! Wayne Hennessey must never return to goal for the sake of the team’s confidence, but a new goal-saver must now be as big a priority as recruiting a goalscorer at the other end of the pitch. £5-10 million?

RB or CB – As weak as Palace are at right full-back, Fosu-Mensah is learning the game well and just needs confidence to play ahead of the poor Joel Ward. James Tomkins is never fully fit for a run of games and Scott Dann doesn’t seem as convincing as he once was. For Mamadou Sakho’s benefit, it may be useful to find a new centre-back partner if Tomkins or Dann can’t remain consistent. Palace definitely need something new on the right side of that defence, whether RCB or RB. £10 million signing?

CAM – Palace have been crying out for a number ten playmaker for years, ever since Andre Moritz dazzled for us with all Brazilian flair in our promotion-winning season. Hodgson’s side lack somebody who unlock the door and pick out the forwards with perfect precision and class. Yohan Cabaye shows glimpses of acting in this role, but ideally it needs to be somebody more attack-minded? A classy foreigner in the mould of Coutinho, Lanzini, Tadic would be nice. There aren’t obvious candidates around at the moment… I wonder if the scouting network knows what a playmaking midfielder is? We’ll have to wait and see. Here’s hoping… Foreign loan deal or big money move if we raise cash from sales?

Let us know your thoughts via our social media pages at Selhurst Sound!

 

 

 

Zaha Saves Palace From The Mire

Wilfried Zaha rescued a last-gasp equaliser as Crystal Palace drew 2-2 with West Ham United on Saturday in a thrilling London derby at Selhurst Park.

The Hammers stunned the home crowd by racing into a two goal lead by half-time through goals from Javier Hernández and André Ayew. Palace pulled a goal back early on in the second period through Luka Milivojević’s penalty, before Zaha performed heroics to level the scores with the last kick of the game.

Defeat for Palace would have left them in a precarious position adrift at the bottom of the table, but pre-kick off only victory was seen as acceptable up against another relegation rival at home. Considering the dramatic circumstances, to salvage a point at the end will build great momentum at the club despite Palace fully meriting the three points.

The game began with great anticipation and nerves from both sets of players and fans as the first half-hour served up a poor spectacle. Palace dominated possession but regularly squandered the ball back to the away side in promising forward areas. Dutch left-back Patrick van Aanholt was forced to withdraw midway through the half after appearing to suffer a hamstring injury.

 

There was nothing between the sides before Javier Hernández scored a well-worked goal on the counter-attack. Palace were caught up field as the Hammers broke through a dazzling run from Ayew. He twisted and turned past Cabaye and Tomkins before playing the ball out left to wing-back Aaron Cresswell. The former Ipswich Town man played a swift ball across the box for deadly poacher Hernández to drive home from ten yards.

The Mexican was clearly delighted with his first goal in five games resulting from his first shot on target in four league matches. Palace would feel hard done by at conceding the opening goal and it wouldn’t get any easier for them. After forcing attacking situations from set piece corners and free-kicks, former Irons defender and avid fan James Tomkins rose highest from Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s header back into the danger zone to force Joe Hart into a top-class save. The rebound fell onto the floor before Jeffrey Schlupp directed the ball back on target, only for Hart to fortuitously block the effort over the bar.

As Palace continued to push for an equaliser, the killer blow fell their way once again as Ayew turned home a sublime individual goal after Milivojević’s mistake. The Serbian midfielder turned into danger away from the Hammers goal before losing balance and surrendering position on half-way. The Ghana international darted in and out of Scott Dann before firing into the roof of the net in off the bar. The Eagles looked dead on the floor and totally flabbergasted at going down to the only two shots on their goal in the half.

The second half sprung into life instantly as Andros Townsend was carelessly impeded in the box by Angelo Ogbonna for a penalty.  Milivojević atoned for his first-half error and coolly stepped up to send Hart the wrong way. The goal sparked the crowd into life as Selhurst returned to its usually loud atmosphere. Palace looked like a new side vying for revenge and justice.

For the rest of the game, Palace totally battered West Ham to the very last kick. Yohan Cabaye hit the post and James Tomkins was denied by the crossbar as Joe Hart’s goal was peppered with action. The England number one proved his critics wrong as time and time again he denied Zaha, Cabaye and Townsend amongst many in the twelve shots on target. After his heroic fingertip onto the bar to deny Tomkins in injury time, Palace found one last opportunity to squeeze the ball into the Hammers net.

Michail Antonio found himself with the ball up the far end of the pitch in the Palace half. Instead of retaining the ball for the fifteen seconds which remained, he attempted to pick out a teammate in the box to no avail. Disastrously, West Ham were caught way up field only for Palace to work the ball back to Zaha on the inside left. He swiveled past Ogbonna to the byline before cutting back inside and planting an expertly taken finish into the far bottom corner. Wild celebrations occurred as Palace felt great relief at salvaging the point.

Relief at the final whistle for Palace in a game they should have comprehensively won. Much the better side, Roy Hodgson’s men once again suffered rotten luck and were desperately unfortunate to bogey side West Ham. Slavan Bilić will be left cursing his side’s lack of professionalism in seeing out the game and is holding onto his job by the fingernails. The Hammers next face Liverpool on Saturday night at the London Stadium. Palace travel up to the North of the capital on Sunday lunchtime to face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium.

Welcome relief in the end for us and finally feeling the magic of football once again with moments such as this. West Ham were beyond jammy and infuriatingly close to stealing another unjust win off us. Similar to the Swansea game, they rarely threatened and would’ve pulled off one of the luckiest wins ever if it wasn’t for our heroics. Just as well Wilf is top-class then, as we just about keep ourselves hanging in there. Spurs away next week is a bonus match which we will no doubt lose, but after that it becomes a lot more attainable to get points on the board. Up the Palace and keep the faith! I certainly lost it at half-time but football is a game of two emotions. Let’s rediscover more of that positive feeling. Eagles!

 

Crystal Palace 2 – 2 West Ham United – Match Ratings

CRYSTAL PALACE

Julián Speroni 6

Joel Ward 5.5 (Bakary Sako 6.5)

Scott Dann 6

James Tomkins 7

Patrick van Aanholt 6 (Timothy Fosu-Mensah 6.5)

Luka Milivojević 7

Yohan Cabaye 8.5

Ruben Loftus-Cheek 6.5

Jeffrey Schlupp 5.5

Andros Townsend 8

Wilfried Zaha 8

 

WEST HAM UNITED

Joe Hart 9 MOTM

Pablo Zabaleta 5 (Michail Antonio 4)

José Fonte 6 (Declan Rice 5.5)

Cheikhou Kouyaté 6

Angelo Ogbonna 5.5

Aaron Cresswell 6.5 (Arthur Masuaku 6)

Mark Noble 6

Edimilson Fernandes 6

André Ayew 7.5

Manuel Lanzini 6.5

Javier Hernández 7

 

Crystal Palace vs West Ham United Preview – London Showdown

 

 

Crystal Palace take on West Ham United this Saturday in a crucial London derby at Selhurst Park.

Both sides have suffered miserable campaigns thus far in the Premier League this season. Palace sit bottom of the table with eight defeats in nine matches whilst the Hammers have greatly under-performed after heavy investment in the summer window. West Ham were humiliated last Friday night in a 0-3 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, but since won 2-3 at Wembley against rivals Tottenham in the Carabao Cup this week. Palace, on the other hand, narrowly lost to Newcastle 0-1 last time out in the Premier League before being annihilated 4-1 by Bristol City in the league cup.

Despite being less than a quarter of the way through the season, this fixture already represents a proverbial six-pointer for the London clubs. West Ham boss Slavan Bilić knows defeat will likely spell the end of his reign in charge at the London Stadium, whereas Palace acknowledge a defeat will leave them cut adrift at the bottom.

The recent history of this fixture is unwelcome reading for Crystal Palace as the Hammers have won on their last three successive visits to Selhurst Park. It represents the away side’s longest winning run across the capital, as last season’s 0-1 victory was the beginning of the end for then Eagles boss Alan Pardew. More recently played as a late October fixture over the past few seasons, it sparks déjà vu for Palace fans who see the visitors as something of a bogey side. As bleak as it seems for West Ham, Palace always seem to outdo them and surrender. Manuel Lanzini has scored in each of his four matches against Palace for Slavan Bilić’s side, who he himself hasn’t lost to in those four games as manager.

After the most unlikely of victories from 2-0 down against Spurs on Wednesday night, West Ham may keep much of their starting eleven together when they return to league action this weekend. Michail Antonio remains a doubt after missing the mid-week win through a rib injury, but James Collins and Diafra Sakho will definitely be absent through respective ankle and back problems. Bilić has a lot of options available for the game at Palace and will have to get his team selection and tactics spot on to save his job.

Palace, meanwhile, will almost certainly retain the starting eleven who unluckily lost to Newcastle in the league last Saturday. The second-string Eagles side who totally embarrassed the club mid-week, however, will not be giving manager Roy Hodgson a headache for his tactical thinking. There was no bad luck about the game at Ashton Gate and he expects his first-choice eleven to get the good fortune they deserve this time out. James McArthur is the one injury Palace are sweating over after the Scotland international sat out training sessions this week. Chung-Yong Lee picked up a knock in Bristol on Tuesday, but is not a player worth worrying about for Palace. Christian Benteke will be in the fan-zone from around midday on Saturday, but he remains injured until December along with fellow striker Connor Wickham. Jason Puncheon is one yellow card away from a disciplinary suspension.

West Ham have been pretty shocking this season, but how can we as Palace fans dare point the finger at our London neighbours? Anything they do badly, we seem to do worse! If the two clubs were summed up in a meme together this season, it would be something along the lines of –

*West Ham turn in the worst performance of the season*

Crystal Palace: Hold my beer…

Surely Palace can’t lose again, another game, surely… when will it stop? I’m hoping we put in another performance similar to the win over Chelsea and we need to win! We have to gamble, but a draw seems respectable enough to keep both sides from total obliteration and Bilić happy (and employed). Although, I may be clutching at straws as we always lose to them (and everybody!). 1-1

Fact of the Day: Javier Hernández hasn’t had a shot on target in three Premier League games, despite having the fourth best all-time goals per minute ratio since English top-flight records began. (You know what that means?!)

Pitiful Palace Humiliated In Bristol

Crystal Palace hit an all-time low as they totally capitulated at the hands of Sky Bet Championship opposition Bristol City, losing by four goals to one in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.

Despite the rise of the Eagles and the fall of the Robins over the years since their regular battles in the second division, City still continued to dominate the fixture as they swept aside an under-strength Palace side once more. Goals from Matty Taylor, Milan Đurić, Joe Bryan and Callum O’Dowda comprehensively assured victory for the hosts as Bakary Sako’s opener was cancelled out.

The defeat leaves the Palace camp under severe scrutiny and pressure ahead of the crunch game at home to West Ham United on Saturday. The 2,000+ travelling away contingent were loud in voice for much of the game but were treated to yet another abject performance from their players. Fans began to turn on goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey by chanting Julián Speroni’s name and a certain individual in the Palace crowd threw back Senegalese defender Pape Souaré’s shirt after he offered it in apology at the end.

 

Tensions around the club continue to grow between the fans, the playing staff and the boardroom. The defeat at Ashton Gate was totally unacceptable in the opinion of many, with fans asking for the players to cough up and repay those who travelled to the game in support. This is seen as one bad performance too far for a set of players who failed to even show any passion, fight or spirit in losing to supposedly inferior opposition.

The curse of Ashton Gate continues 37 years on no matter what happens. Bristol City have caused me some of my most painful memories as a Palace fan and to see them humiliate us once again is just too much now. Last time we lost 4-1 there, we ended up going on a 14 game unbeaten run and getting promoted. I’m pretty sure we won’t see anything like that from this crop of players, who quite frankly, didn’t even show they were worthy of Championship standard. Embarrassing, shocking but you know what? Not surprising anymore. It’s that bad. There is no coming back from this if we lose on Saturday. It would see us reach unseen lows, even worse than Villa or Sunderland managed. How just how is this happening? Bristol City continue to haunt us at our worst moments. Capitulation to the fear of our playing record there?

Toffees Sack Koeman

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has today been sacked by the Merseyside club following an abysmal start to the Premier League season.

The Dutchman replaced Roberto Martinez last summer and guided the Evertonians to a 7th-placed finish in his first season in charge. Following a heavy investment of over £140 million this summer, the former Barcelona and Ajax man leaves with the club in the relegation zone after just two wins from nine league matches. His under-performing side suffered a humiliating 2-5 Premier League defeat to Arsenal yesterday afternoon at Goodison Park.

He joins his former Dutch colleague Frank de Boer and ex-Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare as the early managerial casualties in the Premier League this season.

The Dutch revolution has well and truly come falling down.