Crucial Mistakes Are Taking Their Toll
The first few months of the Premier League season have been rough for our beloved Palace.
If you throw out the opening day victory away at Fulham, Palace have accumulated four points in six games. From these games, only three league goals have been scored in TOTAL!
A reliance on Wilfried Zaha’s game-winning play coupled with crucial mistakes have crippled the Eagles. Mamadou Sakho decided to elbow Jefferson Lerma in the face while in the box directly in front of official Mike Dean late in the Bournemouth game. The very same Sakho missed a wide open header late on at home to a Newcastle team that is yet to win a match this season. It was also Sakho that committed a foul, albeit personally confirmed as soft, on Mohammed Salah late in the first half against Liverpool.
This is not a hit piece on Sakho despite what that last paragraph may imply. The great thing about him is that you know what you are getting. He will, without a shadow of a doubt, make one mistake every match. It may be a terrible back pass to Wayne Hennessey that leads to a break, perhaps he decides that it would be a great idea to back heel a pass to a teammate while in their own penalty area surrounded by opposing players. Maybe the Newcastle situation happens again and it is a wide open goal that the Frenchman misses.
One of those or another will come at some point and has the potential to be damning. Thankfully, not every mistake has or will be turned into an opposition goal.
Regardless, Mamadou Sakho is vital to Palace, as are each of the starting eleven. It may be because I am still in my infancy of football fandom but I do not understand the clamor each week for any number of players to be dropped from the team. One week it is Andros Townsend, the following week it is our captain Luka Milivojevic. Next week, I am guessing it will be James McArthur. Who is going to come into the starting line-up to suddenly improve it?
I will be the first to admit that Luka has not played fully up to his ability. The only Palace players that can claim that would be are Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Zaha.
It is okay to say that it has been a poor start to the season. As fans, we all moan and complain about how things have gone so far and which player needs to play better. We forget that this season is only 18% complete. According to my math (it checks out, just trust me on this one!), if the season was transferred into a calendar year, today would be March 7th. We have not even hit summer yet. Football (my football) is still four months away from its pre-season. Plenty of the year left to go.
Remember last year?
The year that Palace did not score a single game within their first seven games of the season. Remember when they went until mid-October to record their first point? I sure do.
Now, I’m not inferring that the Eagles can afford to drop points, quite the opposite. After Wolves and Everton, Palace play a resurgent Arsenal, travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, battle Tottenham Hotspur at home and finish with a trip to Old Trafford to play a rejuvenated Manchester United (assuming with Palace’s luck this will be the case). Talk about your murder’s row! The only team that is missing is Manchester City and that game will happen three days before Christmas.
If there is anything that I learned in my time as a Palace fan is that the Premier League season is a marathon, not a sprint. Would it be nice to have the ten points that we perhaps should have this season? Of course it would. But it wouldn’t be the Palace way. Easy is not our style.
The points will come.
December is going to be a very important month for Palace and it’s place in the table at the end of the season. The Eagles will play seven league games in the month and even a casual fan can see that only two are not particularly winable – away at City and home to Chelsea. Meanwhile Burnley, Leicester City and Cardiff City all come to Selhurst Park while Palace travel to Brighton and West Ham. Each one of those teams can be beaten and the Eagles should be making up some ground.
In effort to try and forget the lacklustre start to the campaign, I look toward the future and the hope that it still clutches. We cannot change what has already happened. Seasons are not lost in August and September as Palace proved last year. What we can do is prepare to fight off relegation until the latter months of the season because there is no other way. It’s the Palace way.
We go again Saturday.
UP THE PALACE!!!