In the latest edition of From The Stands, Simon Mills reflects on Crystal Palace's defeat at Aston Villa and previews Manchester City.
I don’t know about you, but I am in a filthy mood and I suspect I will be in one until Saturday at the least. That is one of the downsides of being such a passionate supporter of a club like Palace, a ‘simple’ football match can dictate your mood for several days and after last night I wouldn’t mind betting I am far from alone in that one look at my face suggests you should approach with great caution!
This was one where absolutely everything suggested we should win; Villa without a win in 19 and since the first weekend of the season, every pundit confidently predicting a heavy away win and one of the best away forms in the country coming up against a team with the worst home form. It seemed to scream 1-0 defeat before we even kicked off, but it’s the hope and optimism that kills you.
There are, however, some considerations to help ease our collective frustrations and the more positive fans among us will have already identified them as they seek to explain such a disappointment with a well thought out logic that they hope will ease the pain.
The return of Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham was a welcome sight and while some will point to this with greater annoyance at last night's result, to expect a player to come back in after several weeks absence and only a few days training to put in a high level performance is a bit of an ask. There were certainly signs of rustiness from our returning attackers and in the case of Sako, this was on top of being asked to play in a role he is perhaps not quite as well suited for.
I don’t doubt that we would have been far more threatening had Sako and Wickham been fully fit and flying, just as the lack of further options reduced our chances and threat as we continued to miss Dwight Gayle and especially the much needed Yannick Bolasie. It does concern me somewhat that it is the absence of the latter that seems to have correlated with our major downturn of league form and the thought that one injury in particular can have such a detrimental impact to our season is a worry. I can certainly understand Alan Pardew’s desire for another forward to drive us onwards and I doubt many (if any) Palace fans don’t wholeheartedly agree with him.
Next up is Man City away, a nice easy one then for us to get back on track…(sobs silently in a corner).
Nothing less than an enormous improvement in performance from every single player this weekend will give us any hope of a positive outcome. I also feel that getting Wickham ready, back to his best and starting on Saturday (easy right) will also be a big factor, especially as Yannick Bolasie will undoubtedly be absent again.
It will take a big effort from the lads and we need to get back to doing the basics well; big Wayne Hennessey will likely play a big part and it’s a sign of the respect he has earned and how well he has played that I haven’t seen a single person blame him for last night’s outcome. It would also be a very good time for Yohan Cabaye to give us one of his trademark match winning all star performances in the heart of midfield. It’s no coincidence that when he hasn’t looked on form the team seems to struggle.
So for this weekend I would like to see typical Palace again… because just as it's so typical Palace to lose at Villa in midweek, it would also be oh so typically Palace to win at City just 4 days later!
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