Improvement Continues As Crystal Palace Rise To Fourth
Wow, I’ve not been to Selhurst Park since the opening day defeat to Watford. On that day, another ‘Family Fun Day’ Palace threw away a two goal advantage to lose 3-2.
How times have changed; this Fun Day, despite dominating the early exchanges, Palace contrived to gift Burnley a 2-0 lead after only 29 minutes.
But Palace look good, really good. Well, seven of the players do, the back four looked borderline atrocious, hence the two early goals.
However, Palace are playing some great, expansive attacking football at the moment, and even at 2-0, the game didn’t look beyond them. Four minutes before the break Andre (get) Moritz (out for the lads) threaded a world class, pixel perfect through-ball to the accelerating Wilfried Zaha, who muscled his way into the penalty area and shot home a lifeline.
Seven minutes into the second half and Palace were deservedly level. It was Zaha again who weaved his way into the box before blasting the ball straight at a defender who edged the ball through his own legs and his goalkeeper’s for the equaliser.
Palace, now always in the ascendancy, pushed on and inevitably got the third. A scramble following a corner was put back into the penalty area by Jonny ‘Joniesta’ Williams, and Damien Delaney up from the back, banged the ball through a crowded penalty area.
When Dean Moxey crossed for Glenn Murray to add a fourth (a real number 9’s toe poke), Palace looked home and dry. But this is Palace, and they did their level best to throw it all away, Austin grabbing a third for Burnley on 81. Despite a late bombardment, a bizarrely long injury time period and some spectacular lack of sportsmanship from Burnley, Palace rode it out to claim their 6th win in 7 games and climb to 4th in the table.
Palace have really improved since the opening day of the season and Bolasie and Moritz look to be useful signings. One of the biggest gripes amongst the Palace fans towards the end of last season and the start of this was the lack of attacking flair and options. The attack now looks more balanced with Bolasie and Zaha operating on opposite flanks and Moritz off Murray. Not only does this create chances for those individuals it also creates space and opportunities for Murray as the striker.
The new signings aside, what has been really impressive has been the improvement from existing players. Jedinak and Dikgacoi are dominating the central midfield, Zaha seems to have continued his development curve and Murray has already scored as many goals as he did in the whole of last season. Big pats on the back for Dougie and the staff.
The main area of concern is at the back. The loss of Clyne and Gardner over the summer and McCarthy to injury has left the back four bereft of organisation and talent, no stat emphasises this more than 17 goals conceded in 9 games. I understand that Delaney has been playing well prior to Saturday, but he dropped a clanger against Wolves in the week and looked a little off the pace despite scoring. Blake and Ramage looked decidedly ropey today and Moxey has the odd kamikaze moment in him too. Hopefully this will improve as the season goes on and the players will get used to playing with each other. Last season’s successes were based on a rock solid defence, and it would be a shame if this was sacrificed, albeit for goals at the other end too.
Palace definitely have a touch of the “Keegan’s Newcastle” about them at the moment. More likely to win 4-3, than 1-0, but we’re now up to 4th place in the league and above Brighton, Charlton and Millwall. Who’s complaining?