Promising But Mistakes Need To Stop
Palace had no answer for Sarri-Ball as unbeaten Chelsea remained that way after Sunday’s clash with the Eagles.
Winners of two of the previous three matches at Stamford Bridge, Palace played like the more eager team early on, only to see class win out in the end. Playing most of the match without Eden Hazard, Chelsea showed why they are both Europa and Premier League title contenders.
Roy Hodgson made every Palace fan’s dream come true when it was announced that Max Meyer would be starting in midfield with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend up top. It was the 4-4-2 shape that worked so well for the Eagles during the close of last season. However, one very evident piece was missing to that formation and he happened to be on the opposing bench.
Palace created havoc last season using this formation. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s ability to make a direct run anywhere on the pitch pressed the back line of the opposition. With the defence on their heels, Wilf and Patrick van Aanholt ran wild behind them. This created a frenetic and excited brand of football for players and fans alike.
Max Meyer is not Ruben Loftus-Cheek
And that’s ok. He’s not suppose to be RLC. Where Meyer will be most effective is in a role where he can create and make things happen, but from the center of the pitch. He is not a wide player. He will never be a wide player. This was painfully evident on Sunday. Aside from the few exciting moments in the first ten minutes of the match, Meyer had little to no impact on the pitch because he was cast away on an island out wide. All things said, it was great to see him in the starting eleven but for him to maximise his impact it cannot be from a wide position.
Despite the loss, Palace played relatively well
Look, 26% possession is never a statistic to be boastful of. Chelsea dominated the ball for the majority of the match and the stats show it (Chelsea completed 570 more passes than Palace). When Palace did manage to obtain possession, instantly a swarm of Chelsea players would attack and suffocate and force a quick turn over.
That aside, there are positives that can be drawn from the loss.
Wayne Hennessey continues to be a revelation in goal. It’s odd to say that after looking at the score and seeing Chelsea scoring three goals but all three goals were of no fault of the Palace keeper. In fact, if it wasn’t for his excellent positioning and reactions the scoreline would have been much worse.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the best right back in the league. The only time that Willian had any affect on the match was when he would cut inside and run away from AWB. He will improve on the attacking side of his game and I love his eagerness to make something happen in the opponents 18-yard box. Another tremendous effort from the youngster.
Andros and Wilf up top showed flashes of goal scoring threat. There were many times where either one or both of the wingers broke free but had no one to pass the ball off to. What little possession Palace had, they both tried to make the most of it. Plus, it is always great to see Andros rocket in a goal. Everyone knows how hard he works and he deserved the goal on Sunday.
Chelsea are a great team, but Palace gave them plenty of help
Palace may not have any defensive worries on the right, the left is another story entirely.
Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Patrick van Aanholt. I love his rocket goals and his Twitter banter. It is his defending that I am not so much in love with. The game clinching third goal fell squarely on PVA’s shoulders and he said as much after. Alvaro Morata’s first goal could have potentially been avoided by a better clearance from James Tomkins or tighter marking by AWB. His second was from a needless free kick.
If Palace want to extend their stay in the Premier League they will have to start by not shooting themselves in the foot. Yes, Chelsea and Arsenal are clearly better teams, no-one is arguing that fact. What one could argue, is that Palace deserved more than a point from these last two matches. Yet, here we are again almost a third of the way through the season and only three points off the drop zone. And mostly it is due to our own mistakes.
If any team can stay afloat in this league its our beloved Palace. I still believe that we have a good squad and hopefully when Christian Benteke recovers he can find some old form and start scoring goals again. This club knows what it takes to stay up and to fight near the relegation zone which I believe will prove pivotal down the stretch.
Up next for Palace is a 1-0 loss to Spurs (because it happens every time!) followed by the enigma that is Manchester United. Get through these two games injury free and the fixture list for December looks much more promising (yes, I’m looking at you Brighton!).
On to the next game.
UP THE PALACE!!!