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

 

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?

Eagles Return To Losing Ways

Crystal Palace once again lost in the Premier League without scoring as they went down 0-1 to Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Spanish utility man Mikel Merino stepped off the bench to secure all three points with a fortunate header from a late Matt Ritchie corner. Palace have now lost eight of their opening nine league matches this season.

 

Much the better side throughout, the Eagles failed to capitalise on their superiority and rarely challenged the home side goal. Despite showing more adventure and desire on the ball, Palace failed to register a single shot on target in the match. They did create openings through the impressive Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha up front, but largely struggled to ever test Toon goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

With chances few and far between for the away side, Newcastle also produced very little threat going forward. The first half saw Palace dominate possession and dictate the play to the home side. Zaha and Townsend were constant menaces and looked dangerous on the ball, but were limited in supporting options around them. Jeffrey Schlupp and James McArthur offered little width for Palace as Newcastle played their tactics well and forced the Palace forwards out and away from central areas. Once the opportunity arose to pick out a cross, the South Londoners unsurprisingly had nobody in the box without a recognised forward in the side.

 

Subsequently, star men Zaha and Townsend had to take on the whole Newcastle back four by themselves. Cast as the pantomime villains to the showpiece, the North East crowd took unkindly to the danger and trickery imposed by one of their former players. Receiving a frosty reception throughout, Townsend wasn’t the only ex-Newcastle player who left in acrimonious circumstances – Yohan Cabaye was singled out for particular abuse all game as he caused great controversy for a late challenge on DeAndre Yedlin in the first half. Arguably fortunate to escape a red card, the Frenchman was on a tight rope for the remainder of the game.

With the rope tightening around Cabaye’s neck, Newcastle came onto Palace in the second half with more guile and drive. Merino entered the fray early on and tried to link the play with Shelvey to the isolated centre-forward Joselu. Despite showing signs of positivity, Newcastle lost their momentum and succumbed to Palace dominance once again. Townsend continued to terrorise and create openings, only for substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek amongst others to miss good chances. Star man Wilfried Zaha was taken off for the Chelsea loanee before Palace suffered the fatal blow in the closing minutes of the game.

Newcastle began to force the issue with speculative efforts from distance leading to corners and free-kicks. Ritchie’s delivery from the left in the 86th minute was met by his Scotland colleague James McArthur, who flicked the ball away against the head of Merino. The ball fortuitously ricocheted off the Spaniard to loop back the other way and connect perfectly into the back of the net. It was a goal Palace felt was unjustified, but summed up their season in a nutshell. There was no response after that as the home crowd danced in joy in the face of Townsend and Cabaye. Palace were depleted and knew it was another crucial blow.

Palace next face a crunch game at Selhurst Park against London rivals West Ham United on Saturday. Hammers boss Slavan Bilić is somehow still in the job for two further matches after yet another embarrassing result on Friday night losing 0-3 to Brighton and Hove Albion. The only side possibly worse than the Eagles at the moment, it is a must win game for both sides with Bilić on borrowed time. Much like Newcastle, West Ham are another bogey side who always seem to get a result against Palace regardless of situation.

It really is Palace’s last chance to not leave it too late, if hope isn’t already lost. The defeat to Newcastle is particularly painful as it was totally undeserved. Our performance was good and the commitment was definitely there. The one thing that wasn’t? A striker to put the ball in the net. There’s only one person to blame again for our shortcomings. You know who I mean…

 

 

Crystal Palace 2 – 1 Chelsea – Match Ratings

                                                      CRYSTAL PALACE

Julián Speroni 7.5

Joel Ward 8

Scott Dann 8

Mamadou Sakho 7.5

Patrick van Aanholt 7

Luka Milivojević 7.5

James McArthur 7 (Timothy Fosu-Mensah 6.5)

Yohan Cabaye 8.5 (Jaïro Riedewald 6.5)

Jeffrey Schlupp 7 (Jason Puncheon 6)

Andros Townsend 9 MOTM

Wilfried Zaha 9

                                                            CHELSEA

Thibaut Courtois 6.5

Victor Moses 6 (Davide Zappacosta 6.5)

César Azpilicueta 5

David Luiz 5.5

Gary Cahill 6

Marcos Alonso 6

Tiémoué Bakayoko 7

Cesc Fàbregas 7.5

Willian 5 (Charly Musonda 6.5)

Michy Batshuayi 4.5 (Pedro 6.5)

Eden Hazard 6

Palace Stun The Champions At Selhurst

Crystal Palace finally recorded their first league win of the season after a stunning 2-1 victory over reigning champions Chelsea at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Eagles, without a single point or goal from their opening seven Premier League games, produced a stellar display against Antonio Conte’s men to rejuvenate a club mercilessly hoping for some sort of miraculous revival.

After waiting over ten and a half hours to score their first Premier League goal, Yohan Cabaye’s ricocheted shot fortuitously came off Cesar Azpilicueta to give Palace an 11th-minute lead. The advantage lasted for a mere six minutes before fellow French midfielder Tiémoué Bakayoko equalised for the visitors from a Cesc Fàbregas corner. Palace star man Wilfried Zaha, on his much-anticipated return to the side, restored the South Londoners’ lead just before half time with what proved to be the match winner.

Palace manager Roy Hodgson made some bold changes to his tactical approach and starting line-up as club legend Julián Speroni returned to take the gloves and Wilfried Zaha partnered Andros Townsend up top in a new look front two. Joel Ward surprisingly retained his place at right-back ahead of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who missed the 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford due to being ineligible to face his parent club. That situation would apply to Palace’s other loan signing, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had to sit out against his Stamford Bridge employers for Saturday’s match. Luka Milivojević continued to fill the void in Loftus-Cheek’s absence, as he formed a three-man central midfield alongside Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur. Jeffrey Schlupp and Patrick van Aanholt linked up down the left with Mamadou Sakho and captain Scott Dann sitting in central defence.

Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham remained longer-term absentees in the forward positions as well as the notable absences of number one goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and centre-back James Tomkins amongst the many in Palace’s injury crisis this season. Jaïro Riedewald was once again left on the bench alongside the somewhat disgraced captain Jason Puncheon. Both would enter the field alongside Fosu-Mensah in the closing stages of the game.

West London rivals Chelsea were also suffering from a mini-crisis of injuries themselves. Star players N’Golo Kante and Álvaro Morata were missing along with the struggle for full match fitness for many of their players after a decisive international break. The Blues’ luck got no better during the match at Selhurst Park either, as former Palace youth graduate Victor Moses succumbed to a hamstring injury midway through the first-half to a warming reception from both sets of fans. After the game, Antonio Conte said Chelsea were suffering from an ’emergency’ situation with their injuries.

They next face three home matches in the space of ten days as AS Roma, Watford and Everton all visit Stamford Bridge in three separate competitions. Worryingly for Conte, his Chelsea side were second best to every ball in the defeat at Selhurst, to which the Italian manager later admitted himself.

The unlikely victory for Palace ends their nightmare start to the season that saw them become the worst ever side to begin a campaign without scoring a goal. Roy Hodgson’s men can be proud of their display and will take great confidence from beating last season’s champions once again in the league. They next travel to St. James’ Park on Saturday to face Rafael Benítez’s Newcastle United side.

Finally, some light at the end of the tunnel and something positive to write about in our Match Day Reports section here at Selhurst Sound! It can only be onwards and upwards from here now, Palace fans! Saturday felt like us again. Selhurst was rocking, old heroes returned, that unique togetherness between playing staff and crowd was back. Although a lot needs to be done to reverse this horror show of a season, let’s erase those thoughts and concentrate on getting Palace back to being Palace. Our season starts here… Eagles!

007 at the Palace

Crystal Palace made it zero wins, zero draws and seven defeats from their opening fixtures of the season after yet another miserable afternoon in Manchester saw them lose 4-0 to United. 

Within two minutes, Juan Mata set the inevitable tone after converting Marcus Rashford’s pull-back. Marouane Fellaini added goals either side of half-time before Romelu Lukaku stabbed home a fourth from Anthony Martial’s low cross.

Palace continue to set unprecedented lows after a double humiliation in successive weeks in the second city. After last week’s resounding 5-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City, the Eagles’ predicament seems pretty bleak. With an international break forthcoming, it will allow Roy Hodgson some much needed time to firmly get into his fallen troops. Palace face Premier League champions Chelsea at Selhurst Park in a fortnight’s time before visiting St James’ Park to play Newcastle and hosting West Ham in another London derby at the end of the month.

Things could not possibly be any worse for Palace, could they? Yes, they can as they seem to defy every week passing. We could very much see the team losing their opening ten matches and being relegated in record time. Something has to change, the future looks as dead as it is now. Not a chance of survival in my eyes. The most stupendous cock-up ever mastered at top-flight level, perhaps.