Wider Watching World Suddenly Aware Of Guaita And His Ability

Following up the rout of the Baggies by holding the Premier League leaders to a point has given us plenty of talking points to pick up on, here is what I settled on.

1. There’s only one place to start this week – Vicente Guaita. This game easily could have been remembered for the Spaniard’s mistake in the first half that resulted in Tottenham Hotspur taking the lead, but the enduring image will instead be of the Palace goalkeeper flinging himself through the air, mouth gaping, to tip Eric Dier’s free kick onto the crossbar. That’s without even mentioning his stunning stop to deny Tanguy Ndombele early in the match, as well as his equally impressive reaction save to prevent Harry Kane grabbing a late winner. Those of us that have been watching Guaita since he arrived from Getafe know that he is capable of pulling off wonder saves, but on Sunday it felt as if the wider watching world suddenly became aware of his ability. The sooner Palace can tie him down to a new contract the better.

2. Those lucky enough to secure a ticket for Sunday’s game certainly made themselves heard. I might not have been at the match, but I’m not sure I’ve celebrated a goal like that since the last time I was at Selhurst Park for the win against Watford. As much as I love supporting Palace, it’s been difficult to feel the same sense of occasion in recent months while games have been going on behind closed doors. Even with only 2,000 fans inside the ground it immediately felt like the game had taken on another level of significance – and the players knew it, too. I’m not sure I realised how much I missed hearing the Selhurst roar until Jeffrey Schlupp bundled in the equaliser, which was met with an outpouring of joy from both the players on the pitch and those behind the goal as they experienced feelings that have been absent from their lives for over half a year. It was genuinely quite emotional to watch.Despite London’s imminent return to tier three, here’s hoping more of us can get back to Selhurst as soon as is safe to do so.

3. Two men previously written off have been key to Palace’s return to form against Spurs and West Brom. Christian Benteke has fully justified his inclusion, scoring two goals and being a general handful for defenders in a way that no other Palace striker in the squad can. Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze have also clearly benefited from playing alongside the Belgian, whose return to the starting line-up has seen Palace look a far greater attacking threat than they were in games against Burnley and Newcastle. Luka Milivojevic deserves credit, too. The captain had been cast aside by many following his red card against Wolves, but the Serbian has worked his way back into the starting XI and looked back to his old self on Sunday.

4. Nathaniel Clyne, pocketing opposition wingers like it’s 2009. Initially signed as short-term cover for Joel Ward amid Nathan Ferguson’s struggles to return to full fitness, Clyne has now established himself as the rightful owner of the right back spot in this Palace team. His career has been riddled by injuries in recent years, but with every game at the moment he is reminding us exactly why for a long time he was a regular at Liverpool and got capped at international level. Heung-Min Son is one of the world’s in-form wingers at the moment, and for the most part Clyne kept him quiet with ease. If that isn’t enough to justify a contract extension then I’m not sure what is.

5. Roy Hodgson has made a habit during his time at Palace of pulling out results just as it looks like patience with him is teetering on the edge. Many were questioning his position following the back-to-back defeats against Burnley and Newcastle, but the games against West Brom and Spurs haven’t only been pleasing due to the results, but because of the nature of the performances also. There have been signs in both matches that Hodgson might finally have come across an attacking formula that works, one that has made Palace more exciting to watch and allows the likes of Zaha, Eze and Benteke to influence the game. West Ham and Liverpool will present stern challenges to test that theory, but here’s hoping the last two weeks have been steps towards something greater rather than a false dawn.


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