Crystal Palace secured their Premier League survival this afternoon with a 4-0 victory over fellow strugglers Hull City at Selhurst Park.
It’s easy to be wise after the event but today’s game could have gone very differently had Wilfred Zaha not been gifted a chance to score in the 3rd minute.
As we’ve seen so often this season, conceding a goal within the space of 5 minutes totally throws your game plan out of the window. Sometimes you can have the luck on your side and come back to win, as we did at Chelsea. Other times it can be the opening of the floodgates to a spanking, as we saw last week up at Manchester City.
As my dear old say used to say “If ifs and buts we pots and pans there’d be no need for tinkers!”
While we can all wonder why we were nervous now after the game there were many who were openly so on social media.
I, myself, thought this game would be a draw and that the everything would go to the last game of the season but luckily it wasn’t the case.
Wilfred Zaha superbly put away his chance in the 3rd minute after the Hull City defended kicked fresh air. It was the kind of chance Wilf had failed to put away earlier in the season but now it seems he is becoming more polished in the final third of the field.
The goal was enough to settle Palace down and we could pretty much control the game. Hull had to win the game. Though, in theory, a draw was good enough their goal difference is far inferior to both us and Swansea.
Hull never really threatened our goal and on in the 34th minute Jason Puncheon took a corner which was headed into the Hull goal by Christian Benteke for his 17th goal of the season.
Benteke was completely unmarked and was allowed to run from just outside of the penalty spot to the 6-yard line and rose pretty much unchallenged as he powerfully headed the ball down and into the bottom of the goal.
Half time came and went with the visitors making two substitutions and shuffling their formation. We almost scored again just after half time but we knew we didn’t have to try any dangerous attacks, we could pick our moments and strike.
In the 84th minute with Hull still not having a shot on target, Jeffrey Schlupp was released down the left and was taken out in the box by Dawson. Up stepped Luka Milivojevic and scored his second goal for Crystal Palace, his first coming from the same penalty spot verses Arsenal last month.
At 3-0 with five minutes to goal there was no coming back for Hull. They needed to score 4 goals to win the game and that was a tall order, even for Manchester City last week!
On the 90th minute mark Patrick van Aanholt was put through and he beat the Hull goalkeeper to the ball to slot it home for his second goal for the club and Palace’s 4th!
At the final whistle Palace were safe and Hull were relegated. It was made to look like an easy victory in the end but in truth it was a very disciplined performance.
Yohan Cabaye, Andros Townsend, Joel Ward and James Tomkins were playing through the pain barrier as they were carrying injuries. Cabaye and Tomkins had missed the last couple of games with their injuries while Joel Ward received a broken nose last week and Townsend had been managing a hamstring injury while playing on.
As the players left the field I couldn’t help but wonder if Selhurst had seen the last of a few of the players who were epic for us today.
Will Yohan Cabaye, Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend, Wayne Hennessey, or Wilfred Zaha be Palace players next season? Will Damien Delaney, Frazier Campbell, Julian Speroni, Bakary Sako or Martin Kelly?
Who knows how Sam Allardyce will juggle the team around, how he’ll wheel and deal but the one thing I do know is I feel a lot safer with him doing the buying than any other manager we’ve had over the last 20-odd years!
We’ve known that we’ve needed a clear out for some time. We’ve got a couple of players who came up from the Championship with us still in the squad as well as players from that Pulis signed before he buggered off.
That said, I think Steve Parish has had a shot across the bowels this season, as you could see by how much we spent in January. He’ll know he’ll have to trust the manager to dip into the transfer market if we are to avoid being up shit creek without a paddle again.
Judging by the quality of player Big Sam has signed so far he should have the full confidence of the board and the supporters.
They always say you make your own luck in this game and that things even themselves out over the course of a season. Well, we maybe were fortunate to beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool but we shouldn’t have lost to Sunderland, Burnley and Stoke so it is ‘swings and roundabouts’
We’ve managed to stay in the top flight for five consecutive seasons for the first time ever. It is a remarkable achievement, one which has been realised by using 6 managers.
We started off with Holloway, Pulis, Warnock, Pardew, Allardyce and don’t forget Millen. I wonder how much that cost us? Compared to what we’ve won it is a small price to pay!
Next season can’t come soon enough but in the meantime, I have Helsingborg to follow until the season kicks off again!