Five Things TEB Learnt From The Draw With Newcastle
A tough afternoon at Selhurst Park resulted in a fightback by the Eagles after going a goal down but here are my thoughts on the point against Newcastle that really should have been all three.
1. Palace need to be more clinical. Newcastle United, and Swansea City for that matter, have now taken four points from us this season, and yesterday’s game can be added to a long list of home matches where we have come away with one point when it really should have been three. Respecting the point is one thing, but cashing in on winnable fixtures at Selhurst Park is something we need to improve on, and that starts with taking the countless chances we are presenting ourselves with.
2. Slow starts are becoming far too common under Roy Hodgson. It happened against Arsenal and West Ham United, and it happened again yesterday. While watching Palace chase a game might be entertaining, gifting teams an early goal is giving them something to cling on to, and it is preventing us from picking up the points we need to pull away from the relegation battle.
3. The midfield looks leggy. Palace’s midfield was easily bypassed in the build-up to West Ham’s penalty last Tuesday, and Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame were given the freedom of Selhurst Park in yesterday’s first half. With Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s injury, Yohan Cabaye’s fragile fitness, and only Jairo Riedewald as cover, missing out on Ibrahim Amadou is starting to look like the most costly moment of the transfer window.
4. I am tired of watching Wilfried Zaha have little to no impact through the middle. Wilf was nullified against West Ham and it looked like Rafa Benitez had figured out how to do the same. But as soon as Zaha dragged himself out to the left at the end of the first half, he instantly posed more threat and eventually put in the cross that led to the penalty. If Hodgson remains intent on playing 4-4-2, one can only hope the arrival of Alexander Sørloth will allow Zaha to move back to the position where he is most effective.
5. Despite the frustration, Palace look nothing like a side who should be where they are. Even though they did not play well, Palace still had Newcastle clinging on for dear life, and but for a mad managerial appointment in June, I have every confidence we would be mid-table by now. This team is comfortably good enough to finish in the top half this season, the only thing that will dictate if that is the case is whether the majority stay fit from now until the end of it.