Well, that was more like it, wasn’t it?
We got the performance against Newcastle we were all craving and what’s more, we also got to see the thumping many of us long suspected we could dish out to someone. If anything we could have had more than five last week and that gives you an idea of just how dominant we really were.
To a man, the team were excellent and Newcastle simply couldn’t handle us – especially given their curious tactics, playing such a high defensive line against one of the quickest attacks in the league and that played directly into our hands.
For me, three players really stood out on Saturday - Yannick Bolasie, Connor Wickham and James McArthur. The whole team were terrific, but those three put in performances anyone would be proud of!
Yannick was really on it; his movement in particular was a joy to watch and was the biggest factor in his two goals. Connor was an absolute beast, dominating Newcastle’s defence and midfield with his strength, movement and assist work. He might not have got himself on the score sheet, but to set up three goals is a phenomenal effort on just his second game back from injury.
Then of course there was McArthur, who is my current Player of the Year on current form. His work rate and energy every game are superb, he seems to cover every blade of grass and has developed a truly wonderful partnership in the midfield alongside Yohan Cabaye.
Next up we travel to Goodison Park to face Everton on Monday night – a team we have had an outstanding record against over the past two years. This will certainly provide us with a great opportunity to measure ourselves up against an opponent in a similar league position and one we should, hopefully, be competing with at the end of the season (possibly for a Europa League place!).
Going into the game we sit two places above them in the league table and just one point. A victory will keep us in touching distance of Tottenham in 5th (if not drawing level); while a defeat would see us potentially drop back down towards mid table. Whilst this game will not determine our final rankings this year, it will certainly give us a good indication of where we are.
As supporters we tend to take the result of each game in extremes, but the reality is this result won’t ultimately dictate where we will finish this season. That said, a win would make fans believe we can finish in the European spots, whereas defeat will have the doubters out in force. Personally, I’d love a positive performance, regardless of the result as I feel that will give a better indication of what we can expect.
Everton have some very talented players on their books and this won’t be easy. High profile names such as John Stones, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku will be at the forefront of Palace minds, but the Toffees have a real pool of talent at their disposal and it would be foolish to forget other big players we will have to face; Gerard Deulofeu, Tim Howard and Steven Naismith are never easy to play against.
A good all round team display is going to be important if we are going to go and win this one, although I wouldn’t be surprised if another individual or two have the final say on the matter. What will be curious to see will be if after last week’s successful experiment with a 4-4-2, playing Yannick alongside Wickham we line up with a similar approach of if we return to our successful away formation of 4-5-1.
Personally, I’d go with the latter – it’s worked so well in the past away from home and if it’s not broke don’t fix it!
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