The season is still young but there has been a key positive development for Crystal Palace in the early weeks of 2019/20. Only relegated Huddersfield Town collected fewer points in front of their own fans than Palace last term, with the south London side once again finishing higher up the away table than the home one – something they have done every season since 2013/14, when Tony Pulis’s side secured survival largely by making Selhurst Park a fortress.
Although the main focus of gameweek three was between Liverpool and Arsenal, Manchester United had a good opportunity to bounce back from the Wolves stalemate with the home fixture against Crystal Palace. As majority of the top-six sides have failed to be effectively convincing, it would have been ideal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to pick up another early win in the season.
As a whole, the match resulted in a way that not many ahead predicted before kick-off, where the hosts dominated possession and apparently had the game under control, when all of a sudden, the visitors went direct on the counter and scored through Jordan Ayew in the 32nd minute. Throughout the first half, United’s footballing style was constantly sideways and was played at a really slow place, allowing Roy Hodgson’s men to sit comfortably deep and with not much to worry about.
Things went from bad to worse for United in the second half, as a couple of big chances went down the drain and Marcus Rashford’s attempt from the penalty spot in 70th minute hit the woodwork. However, the side’s goal and equaliser finally came in 89th minute as Daniel James well-placed shot went past Vicente Guaita and into the far corner of net. In the final moments of the game, United’s overload of players allowed Crystal Palace to break brutally on the counter and to shockingly get the winner.
Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…
Lack of creativity and urgency
Throughout the whole game, United failed to cause a number of problems for Crystal Palace’s backline and Vicente Guaita, as they went on to complete the same amount of shots on target as the opposition. The Red Devils actually completed zero shots on goal by the half-time break, which more or less implies that the side’s lack of creativity and urgency is starting to show when they are desperately in need of it.
After the break, Solskjaer’s men did take things up a notch by raising the tempo on the ball and in terms of looking to progress more forward whilst in possession, but they were seriously in need of a playmaker that can pull the strings with ease and open up the opponent’s defence without trying. United’s main options within this position is either Jesse Lingard or Juan Mata, though, they are not the ideal individuals that can produce the final third goods on a consistent and effective basis.
Ole needs to begin experimenting more tactically
Solskjaer kept the same line-up as the one that faced Wolves last week, but majority of the Old Trafford faithful were hoping that a couple of changes were made in order for the squad to know that no one’s place in the starting line-up is guaranteed. On the other hand, the manager himself will need to experiment into new formations and tactics, in order to get the best out of his own players and work around the opposition’s system.
A potential plan B may include the back-three/five setup, which would allow Axel Tuanzebe to play more regularly and in the backline along with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, giving United the defensive stability they need and the licence for the wing-backs and Paul Pogba to constantly advance high up the pitch. As Ole does not have strength in numbers within midfield and attack, they currently have no option but to focus on dominating possession on both sides of the pitch and take their limited chances.
United won’t progress far with the current midfield options
At this moment of time, it can easily be stated that United will have huge and great difficulty in finishing in the top four this season and with any intentions they have of domestic cup success. Based on the last couple of games, the side have unfortunately failed to control and dominate the game in the middle of the pitch, a department that is not filled with many talented or experienced players. And the departures of both Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini have not helped at all.
With the club failing to bring in a replacement for the mentioned duo or an upgrade on some of the deadwood within this area, a single injury to either Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay will ruin the manager’s balance and the side’s stability for a number of weeks. And if the side start to drop points on a more regular basis, the board will then surely regret not buying Bruno Fernandes or Thomas Partey, two well-known individuals who are seen as the missing piece to United’s broken midfield.
Wilfried Zaha the Crystal Palace striker has said that he wants to play Champions League football next season and Palace are not going to stand in his way. However the only catch is that they value the player at around £80-£100m and will not let him go for lower than that, but is Zaha really worth that figure?
There is no doubt that on his day the 26 year old packs a punch and is a decent player but in a world where football transfers have gone a little mad, Palace’s fee for such a player seems absurd.
One has to ask how did Palace come up with such a figure? Zaha has no major trophies to his name. He did win the Community Shield with Manchester United, a club he played a total of 4 games for before moving to Crystal Palace. In his career which has lasted for 10 seasons he has never scored more than 10 goals in one season which seems like a poor return on striker. Yes true sometimes he has been deployed as winger but even so, this doesn’t seem befitting of a player rated so costly by Palace.
From a total of 340 games the least we could expect from an £80m player would be 100-130 goals. But Zaha has scored 53. He will be best remembered for his time with Palace where he has been there for 5 seasons and played 180 games, his goal return is 35.
In a few words that is a poor return and does not suggest that Zaha is Champions League material. True with a better attacking team Zaha should be able to improve, he may even get to a 1 goal in 2 games ratio, but at 26 he hasn’t shown even in one season the potential that he believes he has. His dream is to play in the elite competition but there would not be one team outside of England who would be willing to pay more than £30m for him.
This is a reality of the situation and it is why Palace would only listen to offers from Premier League clubs. But who will take the risk, Chelsea, Tottenham? As it stands Manchester City and Liverpool look covered in that department
Good luck to Zaha he deserves a crack at the Champions League in a better team, but to suggest he is worth what the Eagles have said is simply not justified. What happened to the players that had bagged trophies and had that experience of winning, or if nothing else were scoring hatful of goals. Palace want to cash in, and this is what this really boils down too.
It really is saying something when there are three standout contenders for the Premier League’s best player the previous weekend, and all three of them are defenders! With an impressive amount of 2-0 and 2-1 results last weekend, the goalscoring defender was clearly always going to reign as king – and on this occasion that person would be none other than Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt. The other two in the mix – Leicester star Wes Morgan and Everton’s Kurt Zouma (on loan from Chelsea) missed out on the most trivial of margins – they each played 94 minutes, while van Aanholt played 95! He helped the Eagles to a 2-0 win over Huddersfield – a result which saw the Terriers ultimately relegated.
The 2018-19 Premier League relegation battle is one of the most difficult to predict in the league’s 26-year history.
At the start of November, Newcastle and Huddersfield had three points from 10 matches, while newly promoted Cardiff and Fulham were hovering just above them on five points.
Having won three matches between them, it looked as though those four teams would be fighting to escape the drop zone all throughout the season.
It has been a nightmare run of fixtures for Crystal Palace, but the light at the end of the tunnel is coming into view. Having locked horns with London trio Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in their last three games, Roy Hodgson’s side now face the daunting task of a trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United this weekend. After that, though, the schedule – on paper at least – looks a great deal kinder, and Palace must take advantage if they are to avoid another relegation scrap this season.
Crystal Palace supporters are getting used to this feeling. Roy Hodgson’s side again suffered defeat in a game which they were in for long periods on Sunday afternoon, as late goals from substitutes Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun gave Everton a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.
Had you taken a trip to Selhurst Park in the final few weeks of the 2017/18 campaign, you would have been hard-pressed to find a Crystal Palace fan with anything negative to say about Roy Hodgson.
The former England manager took the reins at his boyhood club early in the season, but Palace were still in a perilous position; not only had their first four games yielded a grand total of zero points and zero goals, but the club was also embroiled in an identity crisis following the short-lived Frank de Boer experiment. The Dutchman had been appointed with a remit of evolving the team’s style of play, but that ambition was hastily abandoned after 360 minutes of winless football in the Premier League.
A moment of madness helped settle Bournemouth’s clash with Crystal Palace on Monday night. The scores were locked at 1-1 as the clock ticked into the 86th minute at the Vitality Stadium, with the hosts on top having been on the back foot for much of the second half.
Referee Mike Dean delayed the taking of a Bournemouth free-kick to warn several players from both sides about pushing and shoving in the 18-yard box, before pointing to the penalty spot when Mamadou Sakho elbowed Jefferson Lerma once the ball had been swung into the area. Junior Stanislas made no mistake from 12 yards, beating Wayne Hennessey down the middle to give the Cherries a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish in the closing stages.
Roy Hodgson was keen to take the positives from his Crystal Palace side’s performance in Saturday’s scoreless stalemate with Newcastle United.
“They were very well organised and disciplined and it wasn’t easy to get through them,” the former England manager told Sky Sports after the match. “But I did think we did enough to get the goal that would have won the game, but the thing that pleased me was that games like that can often go against you.