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.

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?!)

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.

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…

 

 

Palace Must Be Cautious With Momentum

 

Crystal Palace travel up to the North East this weekend with rediscovered optimism after the 2-1 victory against champions Chelsea last time out.

Palace approach their ninth game of the season with the relief at finally getting off the mark with their first goals and points after seven barren games without. The Eagles will be buoyant by their terrific performance in the deserved win over Antonio Conte’s men and will go all guns blazing for Newcastle at St. James’ Park.

Despite the cause for positive thinking, Palace will have to be cautious with their momentum as they tackle a Toon side enjoying an extremely solid beginning to life back in the top-flight. Rafael Benitez’s men have been more than a match for many of their opponents this season and will comfortably avoid the relegation battle come the end of May. Without spending vast amounts of money, Benitez has astutely assembled a competent side with promising players.

Andros Townsend and Yohan Cabaye are not likely to return to St. James’ Park to a warm reception, but both players will have their tails up with a point to prove. Starring in last week’s victory, Roy Hodgson will likely keep the same formation and tactical approach with Townsend playing up top with Zaha. In his pre-match press conference today, the Eagles manager confirmed his delight at keeping players fit and should name an unchanged line-up. Welsh number one goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is back from injury, although it would be baffling to see why Hodgson would bring him back in for an in-form Julian Speroni. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is available for selection once again after missing out for ineligibility against Chelsea and may potentially return in place of James McArthur.

Palace should keep this momentum going and play just as they did against Chelsea. Take little risks, try to win the game but as Big Sam used to say, respect the point. A 1-1 draw would be a solid result and keep the positivity going. Newcastle are a good team and their home crowd will intensify the pressure on our back-four. Speroni can be trusted in these atmospheres, Hennessey cannot. I am going for a 1-1 draw but hoping we can nick a win. Come on you Palace!