Crystal Palace began the 2017/18 Premier League season in embarrassing fashion after newly-promoted Huddersfield Town ran out 0-3 victors at Selhurst Park.
A brace from Terriers’ new club-record signing Steve Mounie and an own goal from Palace defender Joel Ward set the tone for a miserable afternoon in Frank de Boer’s first game in charge. The Eagles have now lost 6 out of 8 opening day fixtures since chairman Steve Parish bought the club in 2010, and criticisms once again lie at his door after a lack of sufficient summer spending.
Palace started the game brightly and looked fluid in the new 3-4-3 system until Ward’s unfortunate own goal midway through the first half. A corner from the left was swung over Wayne Hennessey’s area before Town defender Mathias Jorgensen nodded in Ward’s direction before he inadvertently turned it in. Just two minutes later, Huddersfield capitalised on the shock around the stadium as Benin forward Mounie glanced in a fine header into the top corner from Aaron Mooy’s cross. Palace looked shell-shocked and vulnerable without creating anything meaningful of note until the break. Half-chances fell Zaha and Benteke’s way, but the damage had been done. An unlikely scoreline at half-time was just as shocking and embarrassing as last season’s nightmare of February 4th at home to Sunderland. Yet, it may have been understandable given the start of a new era.
Palace rallied after the break with the introduction of England international Andros Townsend from the bench. A questionable omission from the starting eleven, he replaced Luka Milivojevic in midfield and immediately made an impact. With the home side still stunned from the first-half collapse, it was difficult for Palace to gain any enthusiasm or momentum from an embarrassing situation. Christian Benteke had an excellent header well saved by Town debutant goalkeeper Jonas Lössl. As Palace pressed for a goal back, Scott Dann missed a horrendous chance before Huddersfield scored a counter-attacking third. Long from the goalkeeper’s kick, the ball found its way to winger Elias Kachunga who squared for Mounie to swoop home a neat finish for the third. All three of Town’s goals were from extremely poor defending by Palace. The three at the back were not well-protected on the counter and down the flanks the wing-backs were easily exploited.
Frank de Boer will be extremely disappointed with the nightmare start to his tenure, but will be expected to spend money to fully impose his mark on the weak Palace squad. Every season, Palace begin under-prepared and lost at sea. Steve Parish seriously needs to sort the situation out and spend big on key signings to play the de Boer way. As humiliated as we feel, it’s not the manager’s fault and we must understand this transition will be a painful and long-term process. Back the manager and forget about it, we’re all used to these embarrassments at home in recent seasons. COYP!