Reasons to be cheerful…
Visitors to this site will know I have been going on a lot recently about Palace getting results that we should have got and that they were not something to be elated about.
I’ve said our recent results have not been anything to get excited about because they were against teams that, in my opinion, we should be winning. I said when we play like we did against Stoke when we meet teams who are tipped to finish in the top 8 then I’ll get excited.
Well, I am officially excited!
Playing away at Everton, a team who this season is tipped for a top 6 finish, is a challenge at the best of times. It is especially difficult to go to Goodison Park now that they have a manager who is highly thought of in the game with a highly rated team.
To show you how highly rated they are Everton finished 11th last season and was widely regarded as under achieving, so much so they sacked their manager and went on a £50m spending spree.
In the run up to the game I said I thought we’d lose the game, not because I thought we were not up to the task but because there are games I think we’ll win and games I think we’ll lose.
In my opinion the game at home against West Bromwich Albion was 3 points dropped so in balance anything we could get at Goodison Park would be points gained.
I’m not going to write a match report because that isn’t my thing. I’m more of a discussion point and opinion type of guy but certainly in my opinion we were unlucky to not have won the game.
In the first half Delaney looked shaky at times, he gave away the free kick that Everton scored from. Two talking points from the goal was that the Everton player who was fouled handled the ball in the process and the wall we assembled didn’t jump.
In my opinion the free kick was a correct decision. Whether the Everton player handled it a split second after narrowly having his head taken off by Delaney’s high boot is pretty irrelevant. The high boot was an offence and happened first, arguably causing the player to raise his hands.
The other point about the wall not jumping is because it looked like Lukaku was going to go under the wall, which seems to be a popular tactic with free kicks close to the penalty area.
Whatever the case Everton scored a goal and Mandanda looked furious so it begs the question as to who decided the wall shouldn’t jump?
If the first half was slightly in Everton’s favour then the second was Palace’s. We scored a fantastic goal by Benteke from a Ward cross and at first I thought it would be disallowed for ‘climbing’. I didn’t think Benteke’s jump was a foul but as he’d jumped so high and the Everton defender seemed to not jump at all so I assumed it had to be.
Later on Delaney scored a great headed goal from another Ward cross but the goal was wrongly disallowed and the commentators were not sure why.
At first it was thought that the
linesman assistant referee thought Delaney was Tomkins who had moved back from an offside position but later on they thought McArthur, who was just in front of the keeper in an offside position, had made a movement that put the keeper off, thinking he was going to header the ball himself.
Whatever the case it was a very harsh decision because McArthur isn’t the tallest player on the pitch and the ball was too high for him to reach.
The rest of the game was quite end to end, a kind of cup tie tempo.
The pantomime villain was Yannick Bolasie who was facing Palace for the first time since his £25m move to Everton.
In the first half he was playing on their left wing, right in front of the visiting Palace fans who booed him every time he received the ball. He in turned appeared to gesture towards them each time he put in a cross, seemingly to goad them.
People on Twitter said Bolasie was ‘on fire’ but in truth he performed exactly like he did on a good day. He had pace, power and skill but his end product was off target, over hit or he ran out of pitch.
Towards the end of the game he received a yellow card for a ‘scissor’ tackle on Ward which he was lucky to not have sustained a nasty injury. It was the kind of tackle that could break an ankle. Bolasie screwed his face up, did his lip kissing gesture and looked bemused as to what he’d done.
Luckily after a few seconds Ward got up and hobbled on.
In all honesty I don’t think we miss Bolasie and we look a more balanced side without him. I think the best description of Bolasie came from Jamie Rednapp before the game when he said Bolasie was a ‘street footballer’ and that is about right. It’s too much miss and not enough hit.
With about 15 minutes to go Cabaye replaced McArthur which led me to realise I hadn’t missed Cabaye at all. I don’t think Cabaye is a bad player, he just isn’t as good as he thinks he is or we keep being told he is.
There might be games that Cabaye will shine in, away at Everton isn’t one of them and after he came on he lost the ball a couple of times which highlighted why he didn’t start.
Before the game Pardew made a point of saying Cabaye was on the bench because of the formation we was playing, which can only lead me to believe bringing him on was an attacking substitution.
All in all this performance was above and beyond what I ‘expect’ us to do. It’s give me hope that we can have a good season and finish at least 10th, where I predicted we’ll finish.
Yes, we have out shortcomings. We have a major lack of cover in defence and we’ll need to have luck with keeping key players injury free but if we can do that and reinforce in January maybe we’ll do better than the 10th place I predicted.
All this goes to bail out my opinion that we should have beaten West Brom and Bournemouth. We have looked a very good footballing side ever since the 2nd half against Bournemouth, League Cup aside.
So credit where credit is due. Maybe Alan Pardew has got a plan after all?