Palace Exceed Expectations With Much To Look Forward To

As the 2021/22 season has drawn to a close, there are a lot of positives to reflect on from this year.

It is safe to say, Palace have exceeded everyone’s expectations since the managerial appointment of Patrick Vieira last July. Favourite to be sacked by Christmas, and relegation looking likely for the Eagles; the unthinkable had happened. Palace finished the season on an impressive 48 points at 12th position in the Premier League, this is, of course, in addition to reaching the FA Cup Semi-Final.

Let’s take a look back at some of my favourite moments from this season.

Our first win came in spectacular form, against Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park back in September. Palace bagged a 3-0 win over the North London club who were sitting top of the league heading into game week 4, after three consecutive wins.

This game showed some flair from the Eagles after Wilfried Zaha converted a penalty in the 76th minute against a 10-man Spurs. Only eight minutes later, Odsonne Edouard made his first appearance for Palace, off the bench and scored just 28 seconds after coming on; the fastest debut goal in the history of the Premier League! Edouard then netted again in the 93rd minute to seal the 3-0 win. Our first three points under Vieira, victory over the then top of the league, and a brace for Edouard on his debut, has cemented this as one of the moments of the season.

It goes without saying that there was still immense doubt around Selhurst Park leading into October. With a string of conceding last-minute equalisers and an outstanding ability to turn a win into a draw, after a massive six draws within the first nine matches. Palace headed into a trip to the Etihad. Champions Manchester City were not going to show much mercy to Vieira, however, after just 6 minutes Zaha had put the Eagles in front. City down to 10 men at the end of the first half, a Conor Gallagher 88th minute goal sealed all three points for the South London club. Two goals and a clean sheet against the current back-to-back Champions is definitely a standout moment.

Additionally, Palace kept City at bay again in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park back in March, holding the Blues to a 0-0 draw. Two clean sheets against a team who have scored 99 goals in the Premier League this season. Wow!

Another game that is standout in a lot of Palace fans’ minds this season is the FA Cup third-round tie away to Millwall. This game carries a lot of tensions, both on and off the pitch. A fierce South London rivalry that had been stewing since their last league meeting 9 years ago, in 2013. A moment of madness from Jack Butland saw him gift Benik Afobe a goal inside 17 minutes. However, a turnaround at half-time saw an absolute masterclass from Michael Olise in the second half. Olise, who was making only his third start for the club, scored an absolute screamer from the edge of the box in the 46th minute, and twelve minutes later set up Jean-Phillipe Mateta for the winning header. This game showed the quality of some of our midfield players, Olise and Gallagher, and confirmed that South London is in fact, ours!

After getting our cup run off to such a memorable start, Vieira and the boys went on an incredible journey in the FA Cup. With victories against Hartlepool, Stoke and Everton in respective rounds; Palace were on their way to Wembley. Unfortunately, after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the semi-final, that is where the magic ended. However, accompanied by the fantastic day out, the accomplishment of the team to be able to make it to Wembley in only Vieira’s first season, whilst simultaneously keeping up results in the league, is an incredible achievement.

Moving on from specific games, a special mention must go out to the revamped defence that Palace has witnessed this season. Our centre back pairing of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen has been one of sensational viewing. With 12 clean sheets for the pair across the season, this defensive partnership has been very exciting to watch. Notably, impressive clean sheets against Spurs, City (twice) and Arsenal this season. The talent from Guehi also caught the eye of England manager, Gareth Southgate, as he was called up to the squad for the international friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast, back in March and has been called up again for the upcoming Nations League fixtures – Good luck Marc!

Finally, another notable mention goes to Michael Olise and his involvement this season. He has been overcome with injury problems since the dawn of the season, having missed the opening three games with a back injury. With appearances off the bench coming slowly, Olise came on against Leicester in the 53rd minute, and 14 minutes later nets the ball to get Palace back in the game from 2-0 down. Olise made his debut start in game week 9 at home against Newcastle, showcasing just some of his potential, with crosses into the box. However, with four injury spells this season (August, December, April and May), the Frenchman has still bagged himself 4 goals and 9 assists across all competitions. Without injury concerns, this man is a real talent down that right-wing.

Contrary to previous seasons, there has been a lot to rave about in South London and the Vieira era is only just getting started… See you next year!

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  1. I’m a season ticket holder in the Holmesdale and travel down from Loughborough for home games and travel to as many away games as I can. I’ve been a fan since 1965 and this is the best season that I can remember. Not only the quality of the football and the passion of the fans but the whole pre-match experience at Selhurst is now so good. Sitting on the grass behind the Holmesdale on a hot sunny day, drinking real ale and listening to Slider Punk before beating Man U – it simply doesn’t get better than that!

  2. Hi Holly – Yes, you have caught the high points of the season and you are right about exceeding expectations. With just a few more goals for, or a few not given away, it could have been much better, but that’s the Premier League for you. Did you, or anyone else note the ‘point of inflection’ in the season when the Eagles quite suddenly began to play serious, aggressive and confident football that lasted for most of the remainder of the season? For me it was on Sat. 19th Feb. against Chelsea. Yeah, the Eagles lost 0-1 to a last minute goal, but the football content was GOOD! Before that Norwich (away) – 1-1, in which Willie Zaha scored one of the goals of the season and then missed a penalty (sorry Willie) and Brentford (away) – 0-0, about which my match notes say, “Sunday morning in Ruskin Park!” (you know where that is, don’t you?) *After* that was Watford (away): 4-1 (sorry, Roy), Burnley (home) 1-1 (oh, well, my notes say “still a bit sloppy at times, not controlling the loose ball, etc.”), AND Wolves (away) – great!, Man C (home 0-0) – great!, Everton (home) [I don’t want to write a book about the away game] – 4-0, Arsenal (home) 3-0, blah, blah, blah AND Southampton (away) 2-1 with another fabulous Willie Zaha goal. AND we beat Man U! If we are going to see the kind of football from Palace we have enjoyed since 19th Feb. after the new season starts on 6th Aug., then it’s going to be a another wonderful season. Thanks to all the players, who have worked so hard, and to Patrick for his leadership! And to all the Palace supporters for fanning the flames! I was there on the terraces (as they were) from 1968.

    1. You are quite right Tonbo, had it not been for a few of the late equalisers here and there it could have been even better. That is a very good point about the change in the way Palace played and it kind of coincide with improvements in certain areas such as not conceding from set pieces as much and late goals which are clearly things Vieira looked to address as the season went on. Considering it was expected to a season of transition, it ended up being so much more and we are all looking forward to the new season!

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