A point is vital for struggling Palace

To any Palace fans out there: I feel your pain. Not scoring in 360 minutes of football is bad enough, but losing to bottom of the league Aston Villa could be considered unforgiveable by supporters of the Eagles. It’s difficult to criticise Alan Pardew after a complete transformation of the club and a fantastic season so far, but this run of games throughout new year has been shocking. A point is vital against Manchester City tomorrow if we want to get our 2016 push for Europe off to a start.

Our team is nearly unchanged from our 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa, which is surprising given the way we played. The only swap is in between the sticks; Wayne Hennessey, who has done brilliantly as our first team goalkeeper this season, drops to the bench for the return of Julien Speroni. In my opinion, Hennessey was one of our best players last year but his howler which cost us the game at Villa Park has cost him his role in the starting line-up.

I’m not here to discuss Manchester city; too boring. Everyone talks about them because they are, without doubt, a great club and an exciting team to watch. But from a Crystal Palace point of view, it’s difficult to look at their defence without smiling. They’re not as strong at the back compared to recent seasons, and have particularly struggled without captain Vincent Kompany, who is out tomorrow with a long term injury. City will be aware of the pace threat that we never fail to pose, but in the end it’s a matter of defensive quality, and City don’t seem to have it without their leader.

We’ll be relying heavily tomorrow on Zaha, Sako and a return to form for Jason Puncheon, as Bolasie is not quite match fit. If we defend well and our key players turn up, there’s every chance we could break city down tomorrow and clinch a draw, if not take the full three points.

Betting tip: For the gamblers out there; Palace are definitely worth a fiver at 8/1 (betfair odds) These seem good odds for the eagles who have the best away form in the league.

 

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Pardew’s Palace on the lookout for striker

According to Alan Pardew Crystal Palace won’t be doing much dealing this January, but after three successive games without a goal, the fans are getting restless. None of our strikers have scored from open play this season, and our best chance of scoring seems to come from corners and set pieces launched into the box. Despite this, we look very threatening from most counter attacks given the pace there is in the squad, but when it comes to the final shot there seems to be no one there to deliver. If Palace want to retain a top 6 position in 2016, this needs to change, and Pardew has some thinking to do over his activity in the transfer window. Here are some of the possibilities:

1. Emmanuel Adebayor

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Emmanuel Adebayor has almost been forgotten by his ex- colleagues at Tottenham, and he hasn’t played a professional game of football since September. Not the most reassuring, but the Togolese striker seems set for a move back to the premier league after months of work with a personal trainer. He certainly knows what he’s doing, with experience at top clubs including Arsenal and Manchester City. He’s currently considering bids from Palace and Watford. Sure, he’s getting on a bit, now 31 years old, but there’s certainly a few seasons left in him should he sign for a premier league club.

2. Moussa Dembele

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Fulham could be looking to sell striker Moussa Dembele in this window, valued at around £6 million. 19 years of age, Dembele doesn’t have half the experience of Adebayor, but he’s young, quick and full of goals; he’s scored 6 goals in 14 this season for a struggling Fulham side. Palace isn’t the only club interested, both Tottenham and Manchester United long term admirers of the young Frenchman. The one perk of Crystal Palace, as far as Dembele is concerned, is that we can offer more regular first team football.

3. Loic Remy

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Loic Remy’s season hasn’t been particularly noticeable so far, but during his time at Newcastle and Chelsea, he has established quite a goal scoring career. The French striker is on the cards to reunite with his Alan Pardew, his former boss at Newcastle, but Palace are not the only team to show interest. Norwich and Swansea are both considering the transfer, whilst Villa boss Remi Garde seems very keen on negotiations. Even Newcastle are interested in re-signing the 29 year old. Chelsea seem ready to axe Loic Remy but which club will he choose and, more importantly, will it be Palace?

4. Islam Slimani

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News was reported only a few days ago that Crystal Palace have already made and offer for Sporting’s number one striker Islam Slimani. An offer of around £15 million was made for the Algerian striker on top form in the Portuguese league this season, scoring 15 goals and setting up 7. Pardew is said to have had his eye on Slimani for a while, but this particular bid was not considered enough, and was swiftly rejected. For Palace fans hopeful of an introduction of the Algerian to Selhurst Park, don’t give up just yet, as Chairman Steve Parish may push to 17…18… maybe even 20 million pounds. The money would be well worth it, and Slimani would be a great addition to the side.

 

 

 

 

 

Match Report: Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (3rd Jan.)

C Palace 0 – 3 Chelsea

Spirits were high at Selhurst park this morning as Palace aimed to continue there run of 6 games undefeated. The fans were as loud as ever and, as always, club gaffer Alan Pardew gave a reassuring vote of confidence that the eagles could hold off Chelsea’s attack. We face extended injury problems; Bolasie and Wikham both out for two more weeks and star midfielder Yohan Cabaye missing today’s match through suspension. The squad is worryingly thin but still, you would think, capable of at least a home point against a shaky opponent.

Delaney comes back into the defence after a short ankle injury, and captain Mile Jedinak keeps his spot due to Cabaye’s suspended absence. Chung young Lee comes into midfield, and Frazier Campbell starts as a lone striker.

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Alan Pardew had admitted in his pre-match interview that due to injuries we were “second favourite”, but from the first ten minutes the case was quite the opposite. We looked far sharper and more dominant than Chelsea, creating a few good chances early on. Our stable midfield earned us set piece after set piece, our preferred way of scoring goals this season. We never look like scoring in open play, something we need to improve as Alan Pardew has previously admitted.

In contrast, Chelsea tend to take their chances whenever presented, and it was one of their first attacks which created the opening goal. 29 minutes in, as the weather gets worse in South London, Damien Delaney lunges in for an interception and skids across the ground like he’s on a water slide. It leaves the inform Diego Costa almost through on goal, turning into the box from the right. Just as the fans behind the goal expect him to smash it past Hennessey’s near post, he smartly squares it back to Oscar, left to tap it in for his easiest goal of the season.

1st goal

Palace continued there forceful drive just as they had in the first half hour. But five or six set pieces were not enough to win us the equaliser, and the eagles went into the break a goal down.

Half time: C Palace 0 – 1 Chelsea (Costa ,29)

This is where things go from bad from worse for Pardew’s struggling side as Chelsea come out far more determined and eager. The tables begin to turn in the second half and Chelsea are justifying their lead, taking the front foot in the match. Not long in, after endless possession, they get their reward.

60 minutes in, Oscar rolls the ball through to Willian, two players performing with complete class. For the first time in a good while, Palace look vulnerable at the back, the Brazilian international finding himself in yards of space. Our left back Pape Souare contributes massively to our wide attacks, but when it comes to situations like these he needs to be back to defend. In such a good area, Willian can only do one thing, and that’s score. The ball is struck with such power and precision that even Wayne Hennessey can only dive and hope, but by the time he regains his senses the Chelsea players are already celebrating: 2-0.

2nd goal

A last half hour comeback felt like more of a hope than an ambition, as we never really looked like getting into the match. We seemed to lack the final touch brought to the table by Bolasie and Cabaye, which would have led to a far tighter game and probably a full three points. Mile Jedinak simply couldn’t complete the midfield master classes that Cabaye has produced consistently this season. Furthermore, Chung young Lee was barely a replacement for Bolasie, without the natural pace and skill that would have truly strained Chelsea’s defence.

Chelsea didn’t have to wait long to extend their lead yet again. 6 minutes later, 66 minutes in, Willian whips in a combination of cross and shot, gliding along the slippery surface towards the far post and taking Hennessey by surprise. He can only push it weakly into the box, getting as far as Diego Costa, who after an unselfish assist in the first half, decided to knock this one in for himself. And that’s it; no miracle comeback for the eagles, our first loss in 7 games. Ironically, it has been our best feature of the squad which let us down today: the defence. But I still think that had Cabaye, Bolasie and Wikham all been available, it would have been a different story.

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To palace fans; don’t worry. We are still comfortably 7th in the league and come up against bottom Aston Villa next week, which should be an easy three points.

Welcome to PalaceWeekly

Hello and welcome to PalaceWeekly, a 2016 blog dedicated to reviewing every match of Crystal Palace’s remaining season. The eagles find themselves in 5th place at new year, an unexpected campaign so far following a turbulent couple of years under Tony Pulis and Neil Warnock. Alan Pardew, approaching his 1 year anniversary at Selhurst Park this January, has transformed the team’s performance and made Palace a real threat to every team in the league. We enter the year’s football against Chelsea on Sunday, a tricky match if we want to extend our 6 match unbeaten streak. 2016 could see the club’s highest finish in decades; an open door to European football.YannickBolasieOpener