With 7 days to go until Crystal Palace face Hull City in the penultimate game of the season at Selhurst Park, the situation is crystal clear.
By the time Crystal Palace take to the field at Selhurst Park in the lunch time game on Sunday against Hull City the relegation situation will be all but a formality for us.
On Saturday, Swansea City visit Sunderland, a team already relegated but who summoned the energy to do a hatchet job at Hull yesterday by beating them 2-0 at the KC Stadium.
In the end their victory didn’t really help us but getting 3 points over Swansea at the Stadium of Light will mean that whatever the result on Sunday, Premier League football will be at Selhurst Park again next season.
The Situation We’re In
As things stand, Crystal Palace have a goal difference of -15 compared to Swansea’s -28. Were Sunderland to beat Swansea 1-0 their goal difference would be -29 leaving us with the luxury or being able to concede 14 goals more than we score in the last two games.
Even Crystal Palace can’t screw that up, can we?
But let us not get ahead of ourselves because were Swansea to win the game then they’d be level with us on points. There is still so much that could go against us, or indeed for us in the run up to the game.
All things being equal, our injury situation shouldn’t get any worse than they were going into the game in Manchester as indications are all the players came through the game uninjured. No player has received any bans so we have all the players who were thrashed 5-0 at the Etihad available.
Is that a blessing or a curse?
Let us presume that Sunderland concede a last minute goal against Swansea and they lose 1-0. We’ll go into the game on Sunday knowing we need at least a point to guarantee survival.
Nobody Likes A Smart Arse!
How did we get into this situation? Those of you who know me or have read anything I’ve written since the start of the season will know I’ve been predicting this all season. That brings me no pleasure whatsoever, I’m just point out that some of us have been predicting this situation for a while though the majority of Palace fans have put their heads in the sand, shouted “Long live Pardew!” and denied that the end is neigh!
The writing was on the wall from the first game of the season. A home defeat against West Brom and a draw at home against Bournemouth were vital points lost. You have to beat the teams you expect to be below or around you at home. We were not doing that.
While some people were slamming me for being “arrogant” in thinking that we should have won the two aforementioned games we did do well and get victories away at Middlesbrough and Sunderland which a team of our ability should have won.
What followed the 1-1 draw at Everton in, which we were unlucky not to win, was 6 straight defeats. Defeats in a shocking manner against West Ham (h), Leicester (a), Liverpool (h), Burnley (a), Manchester City (h) and Swansea (a).
Losing is one thing, the manner in which we lost those games was the shocking part. We had no fight, no defence, no backbone and it looked like, no hope!
Quite simply, we were losing points where I expected us to lose them but also where I thought we’d win them.
I can, begrudgingly, accept losing 5-0 at Manchester City if we go away to Burnley or Swansea and win. There are games you hope to win but expect to lose and visa versa.
Pardew Finally Sacked
At the end of last season after defending him for 5 months I stated I’d give Pardew until the end of November to make a fist of it or sack him so there would be time to get someone new in for the transfer window. If truth be told Pardew lost my support after our capitulation at home to Liverpool at the end of October. How he was allowed to stagger on until the week before Christmas is beyond me!
Now the Muppet is sitting on Sky Sports saying he wasn’t given enough time and that he could have turned things around.
We can all say that about our bosses after we’ve been sacked. Just throw the blame back on the boss for not giving us enough time and for hiring us in the first place. Utter tosh and while I had sympathy with him when he was sacked I think he is a joke of a man now. Had he just said “Look, I didn’t do a good enough job at Palace, I should have done better in the time I was given!” then I’d have the utmost respect for the man.
Big Sam’s Arrival
We all know what happened once Big Sam arrived. Anyone with an ounce of sense knew it would take time to sort out the shambles he inherited. He appointed his own coaching team and sports science guys plus made a few savvy signings.
One Moment, One Match Doesn’t Relegate You
We’ve had our chances to get ourselves out of the situation we’re in and every other team down the arse end of the division can say the same.
One moment doesn’t relegate you, the culmination of moments does. One player doesn’t get you relegated or win you cups, the team does.
However. If we do indeed get relegated I will find it difficult to not look back on the season and wonder what might have been had Delaney’s goal up at Everton not been wrongly flagged for offside. If you want to be pedantic, if McArthur had not motioned towards the ball as it flew over his head.
I wonder what if Benteke had not fucked around and buried his penalty against West Ham in the monsoon that we lost 1-0 at Selhurst Park. Or how about if the big oaf learned his lesson and put the penalty into the back of the net away at Watford in Big Sam’s first game, which we drew 1-1?
I accept that you can’t legislate for referee or
linesman assistant referee’s mistakes. They happen and I’m sure they have evened themselves out during the course of the season.
I do think you can legislate for players doing their jobs!
Sure, had Zaha scored when he was one-on-one with the West Brom keeper in the season opener at Selhurst Park we might have an extra point. I can somewhat forgive moments like that where you have to make a split second decision in the heat of a moment.
What I can’t forgive is a £28m footballer being paid £100k a week not being able to put a penalty away. To give him the benefit of the doubt he slipped a little against West Ham but it went high and wide. Against Watford it was just a terrible run up, pause and no power in the shot. Unforgivable!
But our situation isn’t Benteke’s fault, he has chipped in with a fair amount of goals for a team in our position. I just wish we’d had Luka earlier. A penalty should be smashed down the middle, Andy Gray style! That way, if the keeper gets a hand to it and saves it he won’t know what hit him.
So, while I don’t blame one person or one moment on our current predicament, the closest I’d come to doing so is the penalty miss at Vicarage Road.
I’d go so far as to say that penalty miss is the crime of the season and the one moment that should have us safe today.