By Simon Mills
Before I start my blog this week, I’d like to take a moment to send my heartfelt wishes and sympathies to all those affected by the tram disaster in Croydon. It has already emerged that one of our own, Dane Chinnery, who was just 19, was among those lost. A tragedy like this affects the entire local community, which the club is such a big part of. It certainly puts things into perspective; live life to its fullest and enjoy it as much as possible – for me, supporting and writing about Palace is a big part of that.
It’s not always as easy to enjoy football as much when you are losing. Four back to back defeats were our punishment for three good wins, we certainly do seem to work in cycles of form and we need to find a way of stopping one loss turning into several.
Personally, based on the last couple of games, I can’t help but feel we need to think a bit more about playing a more tactical game depending on our opposition. There is something to be said for teams who can go out and simply rely on their own tactics, forcing their opponents to adapt for them. Sadly, it would seem that we aren’t quite ready to do that just yet, but it will come.
When we came up against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, we all knew how they would play. High tempo, pressing and aggressive; in your face when you had the ball and then a real attacking thrust which left us reeling several times. Our patient, passing build-up play, working our way steadily up the pitch, played into their hands.
A similar pattern emerged at Burnley, a team who are renowned for their solid defence and cutting counter-attacking play this season. Again, as we pressed further up the pitch and tried to force ourselves into attacking positions, our defenders were dragged out of position and we were sucker punched. Not once, not twice, but three times and that last one was an absolute sickener!
I admire the style of play and idea of what we are trying to achieve and on another day the result could and quite possibly should have been different.
Next up, after the internationals, is Man City – not a game many will be particularly looking forward to given that we are conceding a lot of goals at the moment! If there is a team we need a game plan for and not just to rely on our own style, it’s going to be this one.
The international break has certainly aided us previously in changing fortunes – unfortunately during the last one, we didn’t actually want one! Hopefully we are using this time with the players we have at our disposal to prepare adequately, whilst those away can enjoy the break and find a return to winning form elsewhere.
It usually helps to take a more positive result into this period, unfortunately we came up short at Turf Moor. As I already said, to lose in the last couple of minutes of the game was a real sickener and to do so having fought our way back from two goals down was even more frustrating. The players will need to try to forget about that late goal and focus on the positives that come from another great comeback – even if it did turn out to be in vain.
As supporters, it’s far more frustrating to lose games like that – the ones that (perhaps wrongly) we expect our team to win. I think it’s fair to say that there is not too much expectation going into our clash next week against a mega money Pep Guardiola team. Perhaps that is the kind of game we need right now, it is usually those kind of games where our beloved Palace give us the greatest of surprises. Come on you Eagles.
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