Five Things We Learnt From the Draw With West Ham
What did TEB learn from the draw at the London Stadium against West Ham United? Here are my five things.
1. Palace need a ‘Plan B’. When Wilfried Zaha is off colour, or indeed being set upon by three or four defenders as he was in this game, we look devoid of ideas going forward. If teams are figuring out how to stop Zaha, it means they are starting to figure out how to stop Palace, and that is a worrying sign.
2. I am not one to criticise another team’s home support – and nor will I here – but the soulless atmosphere at the London Stadium is a direct result of it not being built for football. At no point did I feel the excitement that usually comes with an away game, and I genuinely feel for West Ham fans having to trudge back to those temporary stands every other week.
3. We miss Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Much was made of Roy Hodgson’s decision to play Zaha and the Chelsea loanee in what was effectively each other’s position, but it did at least afford them the opportunity to swap. No one in Palace’s midfield looked like unlocking the heart of West Ham’s defence, and it was difficult not to think back to Loftus-Cheek’s penetrative runs earlier in the season and wonder what effect he might have had.
4. Palace need to develop a ruthless streak. With thirteen injuries and a team that lost to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup at the weekend, West Ham should have been there for the taking. Instead, we were lethargic, tentative, and never stamped any real authority on the game. Of course, it is still another point gained, but it would be nice to see Palace cash in on another team’s misfortune every once in a while.
5. We are not out of the woods yet. Hodgson has been right to guard against complacency, and Swansea City are showing that every team in this league is capable of putting together a good run of results. With a number of our relegation rivals having strengthened in January, we need to reach the forty point mark sooner rather than later.