By Simon Mills
After a slow start, the last couple of weeks have provided a much-needed boost to Palace fans. From the start of the second half against Bournemouth, we have started to see the ability that we all knew this squad has and be able to feel excited again about the rest of the season.
The reality is, it was always likely to take time. With so many new additions to the team, combined with the late return of so many from the Euros in the summer it was inevitable that we wouldn’t be quite ready at the get go. Now that players are coming up to speed and the new acquisitions are having the chance to gel with the squad, we are starting to see what this newly assembled team is really all about.
Indeed, I had a suspicion that the stars were aligned just so, that we would see a real thumping on Sunday. With Stoke’s poor form and our recent resurgence, it had the same feeling to it as before our home demolition of Newcastle early last season.
Then again, it would have been ‘typical Palace’ for us to lose 1-0 after dominating for 90 minutes! Let’s hope it was a sign that those days are long gone.
Everyone played well the other day, but two men stood out head and shoulders for me. James McArthur was my man of the match, quite simply outstanding in the middle of the park and seemed to dictate the whole flow of the game. It is little coincidence for me, that his return signaled our greatly increased form and looking back to last season, his absence (followed by his need for essentially another pre-season in the remaining games) was a massive factor in our terrible league run.
The other player I mention, has been just as important as we drive on and start scoring more goals. He will be influential in creating chances and I’m sure he will expect to add plenty to his own tally too. On Sunday we saw Andros Townsend do both and what an incredible goal his one was too!
It was hard to see Yannick Bolasie leave, but dare I say it, we may have got someone even better. Andros had already demonstrated flashes of his ability before Stoke, causing havoc for opposing full backs and cracking in some thunderous drives – we all knew it was only a matter of time before one found the net. His run from within our own half reminded me of Yannick, pace and power left the defence in his wake. Then he went one better, the one thing we always yearned for at the end of many such runs… a world class finish!
Everything about our game just seems to have taken a step up recently. Our deliveries from corners and free kicks had the Potters terrified of any set pieces at the weekend. With goal machine Scott Dann in the area (how has he not played for England yet!?) any defence should be worried. Our joint top scorer last year with five goals, Captain Fantastic is already leading from the front again and already has three in six games!
All of this with Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy still to come back, 8th in the league, just a couple of points behind Man United and Christian Benteke showing signs that he is coming back into top form - a frightening prospect for anyone we face, things are starting to look very bright again from a Palace perspective.
Alan Pardew mentioned a change in the way we play this season and that it would take some time for that to happen. If the last couple of league games are any indication – we could be set for a very good season indeed.
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