Palace defender Adrian Mariappa is relishing his first team chance under manager Tony Pulis – and has praised the rest of the side for their efforts in helping improve the Eagles’ defensive record.
Having not played since the 4-1 loss at home to Fulham in October, Mariappa came on as a substitute for the injured Dean Moxey in the 2-0 win over Cardiff City at the start of December – and has started all four Premier League matches since.
Palace have kept five clean sheets in their last nine games to help inch them out of the bottom three going into the new year, but the former Watford and Reading man says that record has been achieved through a team effort.
“I feel like I’ve settled well into the side and into the club as a whole since I’ve been here,” he said. “Obviously it’s good for us to be getting results and getting points on the board, and I’m grateful to be playing a part in that.
“The way we’ve been playing under the new gaffer, we’ve been very solid, we’ve been getting clean sheets and we’ve been very organised. That’s something we’ll be looking to build on and improve on as we go forward.
“It’s not just the defence – the big thing for us is that everyone on the pitch has been defending. We really do defend as a team and work really hard. That’s the main reason why we are getting clean sheets at the moment – we don’t just defend as a back four.
“There are so many quality players in this league that if you did do that, they would just break you down.”
At the other end of the pitch, goals haven’t quite been as free-flowing as Palace would have liked, but that is of no concern to Mariappa, who feels the goals will come.
He said: “We’ve been creating a lot of chances in the games that we’ve had. On Saturday against Man City, Joe Hart got man of the match and that says everything really. I think it’s only a matter of time before we start scoring more goals because we are creating good chances.
“But the base of our game will be to keep a clean sheet. If you can nick a goal and keep a clean sheet then you win the game.”
Up next for the Eagles is a New Year’s Day clash with Norwich City – a side Palace can overtake with victory at Selhurst Park.
But Mariappa insists that playing against fellow relegation candidates would not affect how the players prepare for the match.
“We’ll approach it in the same way we’ve been approaching all these games,” the 27-year-old added. “It’s a home game for us, we are very strong at home, our support will be brilliant as always and we’ll be looking to get three points.
“It’s unbelievable the stadium when you come to it. It’s always rocking, the fans are really loud and I’m sure as an away team coming to Selhurst, it will be intimidating for anyone.”