It’s a sign of how spoiled we Palace fans have been so far this season, that to experience back-to-back defeats feels very difficult to take. It is certainly a mark of our progression, but we must not forget how far we have come and with our next two games against the two Manchester clubs within just three days of each other, many will expect this ‘poor run’ to continue.
We were unfortunate against the Foxes, as apart from one mistake, we held firm for the full 90 minutes against an extremely dangerous team. We also had three good shouts for penalties all denied, including Wilf’s ‘dive’ after he was kicked on his knee in the area. However, the biggest concern is at the other end of the pitch; we have scored just one one open play goal in 539 minutes of Premier League football (Yannick Bolasie’s header vs West Brom). We simply can’t continue to rely on penalties as a source of goals especially when, as we saw on Saturday, you won’t always be given them (whether deserved or not).
With that in mind, we turn to the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night, in which we have a much better record with goals. Admittedly, the eight we have scored in our previous two games came against Shrewsbury and Charlton, and you don’t need me to tell you that Man City will be a very different prospect, regardless of the team they put out.
Manuel Pellegrini has already suggested we are likely to see a number of youngsters feature for the Citizens, one of which we are already more than acquainted with, a certain ‘Kelechi Iheanacho’ who scored his first senior goal at Selhurst Park a few weeks ago. Anyone who has seen the facilities at City’s £200m Etihad campus will be more than aware of the possibilities these youngsters have at their feet and the reach the club will have in attracting some of the best and brightest young talent from around the world. If anyone’s academy players were not to be taken lightly, it would certainly appear to be City’s.
That said, I don’t think you will find a Palace fan that won’t breathe a sigh of relief at the suggestion we may not have to face the likes of Toure, Kompany and Hart (possibly!) especially with Aguero and Silva, our opponents' most dangerous players, injured and unavailable. One thing's for sure, however, that having won the competition in 2014 you can’t accuse our opponents of having no interest in what is one of the major pieces of silverware on offer in a domestic season. It may be the one their fans covet the least, but it’s a trophy nonetheless.
So how do we beat them? Difficult to say, given how unpredictable their team and tactics are likely to be. For me we will have to focus on our own game and beat them by simply being better, something I feel we always have within our ability, no matter who the opponent. In the previous rounds we have rotated several players into the team, so it will certainly be interesting to see if Pardew does the same against such illustrious opponents, especially with the visit of United on Saturday.
Personally, while I would happily see one or two players come into the side to keep things fresh and try something different (I would also love to see Julian back between the sticks!), I would hope to see as strong a team as possible to give us the best chances of progressing. Victory would see us just three games from a place at Wembley and with City, Arsenal and Chelsea all out, it would surely give us a phenomenal chance of winning our first cup since the ZDS in 1991.
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