Phew… and breathe! Finally, after a run of five straight defeats in the Premier League – we have finally moved off 31 points and hopefully "stopped the rot”. It might only be one point, but its value could be significantly greater as we look forward. The next game could be huge for us; a defeat could take us back into that negative mindset, whilst a win will have everyone looking upwards once again.
The game itself was perhaps a predictably edgy affair. Facing up to a Swansea team desperately in need of points and with a new manager was always going to be a challenge. Going behind made the task even more difficult, so getting something from the game always feels that much better than had the goals been scored in reverse order. There were plenty of positives to take away; Yohan Cabaye returning from injury, a debut for Hiram Boateng and, of course, a first start for Emmanuel Adebayor, with glimpses of the real quality he possesses.
Following our game with Bournemouth, it was pointed out that we had just played our 100th consecutive fixture back in the Premier League. As a ‘youngish’ supporter, my memories of playing in the top flight only stretch to the occasional year, before being relegated again! So to see the club I love finally establishing itself in the top division is something very special.
Huge credit must go to all those at the club who have worked so hard to get us where we are today. Whilst it is important we don’t rest on our laurels, we should still feel a sense of pride and achievement at what we have accomplished in such a short period of time.
With just over a dozen games left to play this season and with the club sitting mid-table, this season still has plenty of life left in it. You would struggle to call yourself a Palace fan if you weren’t still looking nervously over your shoulder! That said, with several players on their way back from injury and the long-awaited return of Yannick Bolasie, we could equally re-launch our push up the table and stage a late push for a European spot.
This season has been so unpredictable in many ways (Leicester and Chelsea anyone?) and so it is for the Eagles, although as long suffering supporters we are used to such years. Right now, we could end up anywhere – whether that be at the top end of the table…or slogging it out at the wrong end. Whatever happens, let’s try to remember to enjoy this wonderful ride that is the Palace roller coaster!
One club that was a big part of our recent successful journey was Watford and we take them on at Selhurst Park this Saturday. The Hornets have had a wonderful season thus far, their first season back in the top division, although their recent form has not been quite as good (a bit like ourselves).
A London derby always has a slightly different feel to it, these are the games when you are more likely to know someone who supports your opponents – aside from those diehard fans of Liverpool/United etc from London of course. I spoke to one such friend of mine who regularly frequents Vicarage Road and, based on what he said, it could be a low-scoring affair.
Watford have been set up not to concede goals, they are solid and every player knows his job. They will attempt to keep possession and be patient when trying to create opportunities – whether this will play into our hands is another matter. A tight game certainly seems to be on the cards and while he admits the away fans fear Wilfried Zaha, the absence of Yannick Bolasie gives them a sense of relief.
It’s the kind of view that us Palace fans can understand oh so well. Without Yannick we have no doubt been blunted, but somehow I have a feeling that Adebayor may make his first real mark for us this weekend and strongly fancy that my friend Gregg may have another name to fear from the Palace lineup.
(With thanks to Gregg Anscomb, who I hope doesn’t enjoy this weekend's game at all!)
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