If Crystal Palace hadn’t somehow found their first win of the season last Saturday against the champions, we’d have been looking forward to this game as a chance of giving somebody a good hiding. Their win was a reminder that they are not as bad a side as their start to the season and league position suggests.
For me, it’s a good thing that they have found their win before playing us because United have historically been the team to play if you need to break a bad streak. Furthermore whenever we go into a game as strong favourites, we have a habit of causing the wrong kind of upset, even since Rafa has been here! Last season we player a hilariously bad Blackburn Rovers side twice and went in expecting to give them a tonking. We lost both games 1-0. Ipswich in April was another where we were expected to run riot. Instead we were taught a lesson by a side with nothing to play for.
My point is that now that Palace have broken their duck and won a game, this match becomes no different to any other. We don’t go in expecting an easy win and Rafa and the lads will be preparing even harder. There should be no danger of complacency.
Crystal Palace’s current plight and the opportunity to make it worse for them isn’t something I’d normally revel in but this is a club that is getting what it deserves for their ridiculous smugness and, well quite frankly, Pardewness. That is, we’ve had several years now of them telling us how wrong we all were and how right they were about Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce. We hounded out great managers who were given the appropriate level of support at their club… until history started to repeat itself. I’m enjoying the realisation that they are not as clever as they thought they were. It’s just too Pardewy.
Those who have read my material over the years will know that I was behind Pards almost until the bitter end as I thought the bloke did an alright job in the circumstances of working for Ashley and never spending any money. He wasn’t sacked though. He left for more money. The media love in for him and disparaging of Newcastle United and it’s fans for “hounding him out” that has followed though has been ridiculous. He was average for us and has been everywhere else, that’s it. Only at Newcastle though, was life made difficult for him and he couldn’t fulfil his potential…fuck off.
And now they have Roy Hodgson. A more likeable fellow to an extent but my beef with him goes back to the Euros last year. I was sat in Sunny Cyprus in June and had two nights of my holiday utterly ruined by the hideous England displays he served up. Both the Slovakia game and the Iceland farce were a disgrace and a waste of a good Singapore Sling. He can fuck off too.
So, I would really love us to give this lot a good pasting. They will be without their misfiring £32million former vile (boooo) striker through injury, but they have their actual best player back in Wilfred Zaha which is a big boost to them. Old boys Cabaye and Townsend are in the side and another reminder that this team shouldn’t really be bottom of the league.
I still maintain however that our advantage over sides like this is our ability to defend. Sunday’s points dropped at Southampton came in spite of what I thought was yet another good defensive display. A soft shot from outside the box rolled past Elliot and a naive challenge from a player completing his first 90 minutes for us somehow resulted in 2 goals for them but otherwise Elliot had nothing to do. I hope Lejeune keeps his place. The penalty was a mare but he looks a class act and is clearly a superior footballer to the other lads, who have to be fair to them played perfectly well. On the other side, we will score goals.
Ayoze Perez finally broke his own duck last week. His performance wasn’t the best overall but his work rate this season has been good and he has improved a lot as a player from the horror show that was our Perez/Mitro strike force under McClaren. I can take any performance from him if he contributes more goals and/or assists. Hopefully he’ll go on a run now.
Joselu will start again at home as he complements Perez, Atsu and Ritchie really well. Hopefully we can get Gayle a bit more playing time as well though as I think he will have a point to prove against this lot. Shelvey and Merino are the ideal midfield but Hayden made his case with a great goal last week. A genuine selection headache for Rafa there.
I think there’s any number of line ups that would be able to do the business for this one. We’ve been excellent at home so far this season and with everyone fit and ready I look forward to seeing who makes the cut. Three points here would put us in the top six at full time. A top six PL club is surely a tempting investment for a potential buyer out there… as if we needed any more motivation than that.
3-0 Rafa’s mags
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