Continuing our weekly feature From The Stands, fan blogger Simon Mills reflects on recent performances and looks ahead to Liverpool on Sunday.
After a couple of painful results and disappointing performances against West Ham United, Leicester City and Manchester City, last week’s display against Manchester United was just the tonic that Palace fans were looking for. We might not have taken all three points, but we certainly deserved them. Only a fool would suggest that Louis Van Gaal’s side were anything but fortunate to come away with a point.
It was certainly the timely boost we needed ahead of this weekend's clash with Liverpool at Anfield, especially as they themselves are on a high following the appointment of Jurgen Klopp and a comfortable 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
There is certainly plenty to feel encouraged about for our trip to Merseyside. The return of Joel Ward, who reminded us all what we had missed in the past month or so, came back with a performance that kept United’s most talented (and expensive) forwards at bay. We could also very likely see Pape Soure back in action, having just missed out last week, while Connor Wickham played 60 minutes for the under 21s against Bristol City on Tuesday.
This, combined with lively performances by the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Dwight Gayle, Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie is just one reason to hold out hope for a win over the Reds. Our record against them in the league has also been outstanding since our promotion back in 2013. We have lost just one of those four fixtures and did the double last season, winning both games 3-1.
One thing that will need to be addressed if we are to get back to winning ways is scoring goals and especially doing it without the need for a penalty! It doesn’t take a genius to work out that, when not one of your recognised strikers has yet to register a goal in the league this season, the chances are that goals are coming at a premium.
The departure of Glenn Murray, Connor Wickham’s injury and Dwight Gayle’s red card have not helped our cause, but after 11 games it is most certainly a concern and one we will need to address quickly if we are to stay at the right end of the table.
There will be plenty of expectation on the shoulders of the returning Wickham and pressure to provide the firepower we need as our first-choice striker. We have yet to see him in full flow and, given he spent a lot of time on the wing at Sunderland, it is difficult to gauge an appropriate level of expectation. What's important is that the fans stay realistic and give our new man time when he is fit enough to return to the team.
It would be foolish to write off our other strikers just yet; confidence appears to be low between them and any forward will tell you that can make all the difference. The most obvious way of restoring confidence is, of course, goals and - no matter how they come - the sooner one, or preferably all, of our strikers can get off the mark the better.
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