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Archive for the tag “Squad”

The Daily Round-Up: The Benefits Of Width

One of the ever-present characteristics of our play during the current unbeaten run, has been the presence of pace and skill on both wings.

In Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie we have two of the best wide men in the division and thanks to the formation we have adopted as our own, they are both given a huge amount of freedom whenever we attack, but it’s not something we can say we’ve honestly had as a squad for at least four years.

The last time I can remember two out-and-out wingers running at full-backs with regularity was the play-off season under Neil Warnock, when Victor Moses and Scott Sinclair were given free rein to terrorise defences with Clinton Morrison occupying the same role as Glenn Murray does now. A game that tends to stick in my mind vividly, was the final league fixture of that season, when we needed to beat Burnley at home to secure a play-off place. We won 5-0, with the aforementioned trio causing havoc from start to finish. It was the perfect advert for the use of width in our division, implemented correctly, it can prove devastating.

Obviously, our teams both then and now, require a great deal more than just talented wingers for the style to produce regular results, but it does seem to pay off in a big way when a manager gets it right. As touched on yesterday, the two defensive midfielders add the steel to the spine of the team which is necessary for Zaha and Bolasie to flourish whilst the attacking central midfielder offers himself up as a third viable creative option but should one of the wingers sustain a long-term injury, the entire shape of the side could alter.

In any counter-attack, it is pace which frightens the opposition, and outside of Zaha and Bolasie, we are a little short of speed. Of course, in an ideal world, they will both stay fit throughout the season, but if there is any budget for it in January, I could see definite benefits in signing another winger for the occasions when one of the above is unavailable. It would allow us to maintain our style without much disruption and hopefully, continue to win games when the pressure is really on in the final weeks of the campaign.

Few teams have the width we do, I’m just glad to see us using it so well.

Here’s today’s round-up, enjoy.

All the news from SE25 in the last 24 hours

Geoff Thomas is adamant that Zaha should choose to represent England, having already done so at Under 19 and Under 21 level, although admits he should only do what he feels is right.

“I’ve seen him play a couple of times this season against Cardiff City at home and Wolverhampton Wanderers away,” Thomas said.

“At Wolves, I sat next to an England coach and it was obvious they had been tracking him for a while.

“He was the standout player that game and capped it off with two great goals out of nothing – that’s the beauty of people like him – he’s got potential to win a game by himself.

“I’d be surprised if he went down the Ivory Coast route because he’s played at U19 and U21 levels with England.

“It’s difficult to say at the moment because I’m sure the Ivory Coast are jumping up and down saying they want him as well.

“It’s obviously his country of birth but he’s been here since he was four years old, so I think what he’s got to do is experience what’s going on with the England camp and take what he feels in his heart.

“He can’t have any regrets on the decision but to have a cap for any international country is special, so he’s got to make sure he’s doing everything for the right reasons.”

The development squad drew 1 – 1 with Wolves at Selhurst Park last night, Jermaine Easter had put us in front, before the visitors equalised during the 2nd half, here’s the full match-report.

Palace’s development side shared the points with Wolves at Selhurst with Jermaine Easter netting against his former club in a 1-1 draw.
The game began slowly and the only action of the opening 15 minutes saw Kandell Daniel fire a free-kick over the bar and Liam McAllinden shoot wide from 25 yards as both sides struggled to find their rhythm.
However the Eagles took the lead in the 20th minute when a defensive mix-up between Zeli Ismail and Michael Ikiekwe was pounced upon by Easter who calmly passed the ball past the helpless Dorus De Vries to net against his former club.

The Bleacher Report has an opinion piece stating that Wilfried Zaha would “shine” if he were to join Manchester United. The link between the two comes after the Daily Mail reported that United were prepared to offer whatever it takes to secure his services in January, I make it rumour number 4,569 about Zaha this season, it’s never-ending.

It’s no surprise Zaha has started to generate interest from some of the Premier League’s top clubs. His potential is through the roof and he’s been developing at a steady rate for the Eagles. His stock should only continue to rise in the coming years. 

His combination of speed and natural technical skill, as he’s illustrated so often en route to four goals in Championship play this season, makes him one of the most intriguing prospects in England’s second division. He’s certainly fun to watch.

Sporting Preview have an article claiming that both Middlesbrough and us are great bets for promotion at the current price being offered by the bookies, how perceptions change…

A far better alternative in the promotion shake up is the 13/8 that says Crystal Palace will be plying their trade a station higher next term.

The Eagles are two points clear at the Championship’s summit and have not tasted defeat since the end of August.

Ian Holloway’s appointment seems to have spurred them on even more as they completed a hat-trick of wins under his guidance at Derby’s expense last time out.

Their price, however, suggests that the bookies expect them to wilt as the season progresses.

They surely won’t remain unbeaten in a division as tight as the Championship, but they are showing all the qualities required of promotion contenders of late and their price does not justify this.

If you subscribe to Palace Player, you can now watch the entire 90 minutes of our 3 – 0 win against Derby County on their official site, thanks to the interchangeable subscriptions in the Football League, enjoy.

Rams Player subscribers can watch Derby County’s 3-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace at the weekend in full.
Nigel Clough’s men had no answer to the Championship leaders as striker Glenn Murray hit a brace, while midfielder Andrew Moritz also found the net to inflict back-to-back defeats on Derby for the first time this season.

Wilfried Zaha has been given the award of Championship Player of the Month for October. It’s hardly a surprise given the month he’s had, I wonder why Will Buckley didn’t win it?

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has been named PFA Championship Player of the Month for October.

The 20-year-old, whose brilliant form earned him his first England cap in last week’s friendly against Sweden, was influential for Palace as they continued their unbeaten run throughout October.

His personal highlights were his back-to-back braces in victories against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley, but he has proved a menace against every defence he has faced.

Daniel Smith has written a piece for London 24, discussing the possible mind games from Gus Poyet and Ian Evatt by mentioning the club in the press in recent weeks.

There will be people, mainly from those individual clubs, who believe and support both comments but this is of no concern to Palace.

It is a natural part of being the team everyone wants to beat. In advance of our upcoming fixtures, opponents now seem to feel it is necessary to try and plant seeds of doubt in the minds of our players and manager, just to allow them to linger.

However, confidence is sky-high and this is a team playing with an enormous amount of self belief, so hearing these words actually justifies the work and effort they are putting in.

“Zaha better than Buckley?! Next you’ll be telling me Murray is better than Mackail-Smith…”

The Daily Round-Up: 3 – 0, Yeah, Why Not?

As I walked out of Selhurst Park on Saturday evening, the general mood amongst supporters was overwhelmingly buoyant. It was quite understandable, given the fact that we’d just won 3 – 0 and extended our lead at the top of the table to two points but one thing struck me as I wandered back down the Holmesdale Road, everyone was on the same page.

Football fans are, by their very nature, an opinionated bunch. You only have to wander past a small selection of them straight after a match has finished to hear at least a dozen vehement descriptions of “where it went wrong” or “what the manager’s got to do” but on Saturday, there was nothing but universal agreement. Of course, the unbeaten run we’re on, coupled with the league position we currently hold, will mean some won’t air their concerns but more importantly, I don’t think there’s anything that needs changing as long as we can keep our key contributors fit.

The system that we play, with a solid back four, two holding defensive midfielders and three attacking ones, completed by the lone striker, works perfectly with the personnel we currently have at our disposal. The beauty of the formation comes in its flexibility, allowing us to always have four men committed in an attack and at least six players defending when the opposition break. The pace on either flank is a genuine worry for every full-back we come up against and as a result, Glenn Murray is getting the level of service needed to provide 20 goals a season.

The impressive thing about it for me, is that as well as all of our fans, players and coaching staff knowing exactly how we’re going to set our stall out every week, the managers we’re coming up against do too, and they still can’t seem to stop us controlling games. In recent weeks, Nigel Pearson, Mick McCarthy, Darren Ferguson and Nigel Clough have all praised us as one of the best sides in the division, having been powerless to avoid defeat. On Saturday, as an example, Clough decided to use three defenders to keep Zaha quiet at times, which inevitably, left far too much space for the likes of Bolasie, Moritz and Murray to exploit in the final third. Rumours that we’re a one man team are seriously wide of the mark.

Admittedly, the depth below the 13 or 14 obvious starting options isn’t the greatest, but I’d challenge any club with the budget we’ve got to say they were stronger. As long as the spine of the team stay fit for the majority of the season, we will continue to win more games than we lose. It’s the routine nature of our performances as the weeks go by which is startling. Everyone knows their role and tends to stick to it for the duration of the 90 minutes, in a formation which has proved unstoppable to countless teams already this season, it’s almost too solid to nullify at times. The snowball effect of recent results will obviously be playing its part in the teams confidence too, but it does feel as though there is a certain level of inevitability about our recent fixtures, it’s all a little bit unnerving given the unpredictability of recent years.

Obviously, this unbeaten run can’t go on forever, but it does feel like we have a team capable of sustaining a promotion push for the duration of the season, and that isn’t something I have honestly felt since 2005, long may it continue.

Here’s today’s round-up, enjoy.

All the news from SE25 in the last 24 hours

Red N Blue Army has completed his match report following the 3 – 0 win against Derby. He’s in a great mood, as you would expect.

We are now two points clear of Caridff at the top of the division, with Middlesbrough a further two points adrift after their loss in Wales. Further, we are now nine points clear of seventh place… which just happens to be occupied by our little rivals. Better still, we are now fourteen games unbeaten with 36 points from a possible 42. Champions form if I have ever seen.

Ian Holloway must feel as though he’s riding the crest of a massive wave at the moment, having won all three of his games in charge, here are his comments after the Derby game.

“Nigel (Clough) is a very good manager. He knows the run we’re on and he knows the players – he’ll have had them watched – and I thought they did it as well as anyone else has. But someone else wriggled out the bag. While you’re worrying about Wilf and Yannick, what about Glenn Murray. Who picked him up from the corner? Before you know it, it’s in. That’s the brilliance about this team. You don’t know where it’s going to come from, KG is a silent assassin who can break forward from nowhere. To me the cement of it all is the back two and Jedinak in front of them, that allows me to add a bit of forward thinking and hopefully they’ll enjoy that. I can’t praise the people, from top to bottom, highly enough for their professionalism at this place. It is absolutely superb.”

Whilst Nigel Clough held his hands up and admitted that we were just too good for his team on the day, he isn’t the first manager to say that this season, though.

Afterwards, Clough had no hesitation in labelling Palace the best side Derby have faced this season.

“Palace were too good for us on the day and you could see why they are top of the table,” said the manager.

“They were brimming with confidence off the back of an impressive unbeaten run.

“They are strong, powerful and a threat at set plays.

“They have got the pace out wide in Zaha and Bolasie, they have got Murray up the middle with his goals and they have got Jedinak sitting in midfield where he breaks up a lot of play.

“Palace are a very settled side, as well, and that helps. I think that is pretty much the side that has played for them in the last 14 games.

“We hate losing but sometimes losing to such a good side makes it a little bit easier to take.

“They are certainly the best side we have played.”

Having made reference to Murray in his post-match comments, Clough is obviously a big fan of Glenn and it seems Ian Holloway is too, saying he’s as good as any striker he’s managed.

Murray’s purple patch has continued since Holloway’s arrival ahead of the 2-0 win over Blackburn on November 3 with the 29-year-old hitting seven goals in the last four games.

And the new boss reckons Murray rates as highly as any forward he has worked with in his managerial career so far.

“As good, if not better than all of them,” the Selhurst chief replied when asked where Murray ranks in terms of strikers.

“His focus, everything about him, the way he goes about his game, the way he goes about his business, how hard he is to mark, how strong he is when the ball comes up – it is a really difficult job to do that as a lone striker.

Andre Moritz has told journalists that although the decision to move to Palace felt like a bit of a gamble at the time, he couldn’t be happier about how it has worked out.

“I am really happy to be involved and this is the best moment of my career.

“I was in Turkey the last five years and I had great years over there but I think I made a really good move in coming to England.

“I was so happy when I came here to Crystal Palace because people who support Palace really love it.

“When you finish a game and you have won and then you see a 70-year-old man going home with a smile on his face it makes me happy.”

Moritz only signed a one-year deal upon his arrival at Palace has previously made it clear that his desire is to play in the Premier League.

But he insists he will be concentrating on nothing but Palace for the remainder of the season and would not rule out an extension to his stay in SE25.

Moritz explained: “I have a one season contract with Crystal Palace and I am only thinking about this right now.

Stephen Bridle has written at length about exactly why we’re not just a team that revolves around Wilfried Zaha for Five Year Plan. It’s a superb read, I highly recommend it.

“One man, you’ve only got one man” came a barely audible murmur from the envious Derby fans as Palace made yet another team look silly, extending their unbeaten run to 14 games on Saturday.

It’s not the first time recently that this accusation has been levelled at me and whilst I’m sure the visiting fans weren’t directing their chant at me personally, it doesn’t mean it annoys me any less.

The vast majority of the you’d-be-lost-without-Zahas, let’s-see-you-carry-on-after-Januarys and you’re-just-a-one-man-teams have been flung at me by Premier League fans who have never been to a game of football in their lives.

They couldn’t be more wrong of course – picking a Man of the Match recently at the Palace being more a case of ‘whose turn is it this week?’ as the lads keep churning out consistent, mouth-watering performances on a personal and a team level.

Many managers have tried – and all have failed – to put a stopper in the juggernaut that is Crystal Palace FC this season.

One of the players mentioned in Stephen’s piece, Yannick Bolasie is desperate to get a few more goals to his name as the season progresses, telling the South London Press that he’s used to scoring more.

“I’m very pleased with how it has gone but I definitely think there is more to come. Last season I only made seven starts and I’ve managed 13 since I came to Palace. That is a bonus for me, just like everything going on at the club is a bonus.

“I’m still learning my trade. Last season wasn’t the type of year I wanted. This one looks like I’m coming back and finding my feet.

“I’m looking for more goals and assists. The main thing I’m trying to do is see pictures – all the best players do that. It is something I’m trying to bring into my game. Everything else is pretty much there. I’m getting better and better.

“The last time I felt like this was when I was at Barnet. Long may it continue. I’m hoping it doesn’t stop, but at the same time I’m kind of waiting for disappointment to come around so that I’ll be ready to bounce back.

Ian Evatt has spoken of how training went downhill at Blackpool during the final weeks of Ian Holloway’s reign, which is a tad worrying, but there could be a number of reasons behind his comments, have a read and see what you think.

“In the last couple of months, we hadn’t really done much training. We had numerous days off – anything from two to five or six at a time,” he said.

“It was as surprising to the lads as anyone else. We’re an honest bunch of players and we want to work hard, but at times we weren’t doing that. Maybe that’s why we had the bad spell that we had.

“We’ve knuckled down now. Training has been fantastic in the last 10 days or so.

“The training has been hard work but we’ve needed it. We’re doing things that we haven’t done for a long time, especially working on things defensively.

The development squad take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Selhurst Park this evening, if you’ve not got anything else happening, why not go along?

Wolves Reserves face their last away game of the current Barclays Under-21 group against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tonight (7pm).

And several senior players will be involved in the side.

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