The Expat Eagle

The Chelsea Result Was Great But We Mustn’t Get Complacent

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Saturday’s victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was a classic heroic Palace performance and one what might define our season.

I will freely admit that when Cesc Fabrigas scored after a few minutes I took a deep sigh! I thought that conceding an early goal would destroy the confidence we’ve been building over the previous 3 games and open the floodgates to a thrashing.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Instead we struck back within a few minutes through Wilf and just 90 seconds later Wilf provided the assist for Benteke to score a cheeky chip over the Chelsea keeper who had gone to ground.

For both players, their international breaks had been quite fruitful with Wilf scoring a “Messiesque” goal and Benteke scoring two for Belgium. It certainly seems their confidence is high and they seem to be in a purple patch of form, which we need now our defence seems to be more secure.

Benteke’s goal in particular was the type of goal that he’d probably have missed a couple of weeks ago. When the ball came to him, he dummied a shot which made the Chelsea keeper go to ground then Benteke chipped the ball over him into an empty net.

Christian Benteke scores against CHelsea

Cheeky and wonderful to see but had it done wide we’d have criticised him for not shooting first time. Damned if you do…

Wayne Hennessey

I have been a major critic of Wayne’s since the start of last season but credit where it’s due, he was immense on Saturday!

I don’t know if it is the clean sheets or the confidence of playing in front of our current back four (including Patrick van Aanholt) but he seems to be a different player.

As he showed in the last minute of the Watford game, he is still capable of trying to give me a heart attack but our victory on Saturday is as much down to him as it was any other player.

We Mustn’t Get Complacent

We are now on a run of four victories out of four games with three clean sheets in there. Or to put it another way, five victories and five clean sheets in seven games!

Complacency can be the enemy of a squad while on a run of form. While I’m sure a manager of Sam Allardyce’s stature wouldn’t let complacency creep in to the squad while in the midst of a relegation battle, I think our biggest enemy might be continuing injury problems.

During Saturday’s game Tomkins went off at half time after a “kick to the calf” and then his replacement, Scott Dann, went off with suspected knee ligament damage.

While Dann is a major doubt for the rest of the season, Tomkins should be fit for at least a substitute spot for tomorrow’s game at Southampton.

What has been surprising for me is that even though we’ve picked up 15 points from a possible 21 we have not managed to pull away form the bottom 3. At the time of writing we are just 4 points above the relegation zone but we have a game in hand, against Tottenham.

The Future Is In Our Hands

Given that Hull have to come to Selhurst as do Burnley who are one point above us, I think we should be safe from the drop. If anything the team I think are looking the most vulnerable are West Ham who, like us, have some difficult fixtures remaining and three of their best players are injured.

If we manage to beat Southampton tomorrow night I think we could get enough points to finish mid-table. A place I predicted us finishing at the start of the season.

We are currently five point off of 9th placed Stoke with a game in hand. I predicted 10th at the start of the season so to be in with a shout of managing that with 9 games to go after the season we’ve had… It’d feel like winning the league if we managed it!

Fitness Issues

All in all, we have a difficult run of games ahead and I hope the squad can stay fit. It seems we have gotten over the spate of muscular injuries and strains that plagued the squad over the last 16 months.

While Sahko has been a revelation for us since he signed on loan we basically have one striker at the club so an injury to Benteke would be a disaster!

With Loic Remy having just resumed training with the squad and with Frazier Campbell the only other recognised striker we can ill afford an injury to Benteke let alone Sakho.

Our remaining games are:

Southampton (a)
Arsenal (h)
Leicester (h)
Liverpool (a)
Tottenham (h)
Burnley (h)
Manchester City (a)
Hull City (h)
Manchester United (a)

As a final thought, it was amazing how quickly Stamford Bridge emptied on Saturday. They must train a lot with fire drills to have evacuated that fast…

Stamford Bridge just after the final whistle
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