That wasn’t the most thrilling game I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. In fact, it was pretty turgid. Pulis had Palace organised in a way that you’d expect one of his sides to be. Two banks of four that rarely ventured out of their own half. Subsequently, this made breaking them down very tricky. Apart from an effort early in second half that grazed the bar, they didn’t trouble us. It was clear they were chasing a point.
Papiss grafted his nuts off all game and should have been on the scoresheet long before the last minute winner. A combo of wasteful finishing and cracking goal keeping prevented that. I was delighted for him when it eventually went in though. Despite his drought, I still really like him. You can see that the players and staff do too given the scenes at the end. The race for 8th goes on. Hold on to your seats.
I’ll never, ever grow tired of beating a Tony Pulis side. It’s never pretty, never pleasant and he always has some sort of bone of contention at the end that he gnaws at like a slightly inbred dog. Take today for example; Speroni spent virtually the entire second half placing the ball and waving his arms. After we scored, Pulis spent his time berrating the officals for too much added time. Beautiful.
The goal though.
This was almost a nailed on 0-0 and didn’t fail to deliver for 90 minutes. To be fair, we edged it…just… The lack of creativity in central midfield was showing through. Again. De Jong, Anita and Dummet were all desperately ineffective, again. It was Cisse today, however, who stood out. (He must have read my report on the last game)The rest of them had finally worked out that playing the ball to Papiss’ feet seemed to be a good idea; the fella was tireless and after a horrendous miss was finally rewarded with an instictive header from an excuisite Ben Arfa cross to seal the win in Speroni induced added time.
This could be the start of a revival for the much maligned Senegalese. I hope so.
The good bits: Ben Arfa – looked hungry – figuratively rather than literally for a change. Balls to feet, players passing to Cisse for a change. We looked calmer today, less inclined to start hoofing it.
The bad bits: De Jong needs a lot more time or no more time at all. Dummet before Haidara.
I’ve been struck down with the world’s most severe case of man flu this week to the point where I’ve been close to starting a ‘shite pictures of yaself’ campaign to raise awareness of this disease. The last thing I fancied today was traipsing out the house in the cold to watch one team that struggle to score against another team that will not try and score.
As always, I’m glad I did! I could not be happier for Papiss; I had given up on him last week but today it was clear he had not given up on himself. Put a great performance in and but for some bad luck and decent goalkeeping he should have broken his duck much earlier. We deserved the win today and Pappa certainly deserved his goal.
Palace were way more organised than when we played them before Christmas. Tony Pulis has turned them into a team that can play to their strengths (being shite and negative) and grind out results. We are struggling for creativity at the moment and I think this result is all the more pleasing as we just didn’t stop until we got the goal.
Sluggish first half I must admit, I’m sure most of St James’ thought we were heading for another hideous goalless draw – memories of paper planes in 2005 under Souness. Hatem for once changed the game. Anita/Tiote just don’t have enough about them to play as a 2 man midfield. When Hatem came on, we had more width, more flair and always looked like scoring. The defence was excellent, Iron Mike even starting to look comfortable on the ball whilst dominating at the back. Against teams like this we can afford to play Hatem and break teams down.
Everton on Tuesday is different but has the potential to be a great game of football. Hatem is a risk in that sort of game but given how little De Jong contributed today he’s worthy of a game. I’d like to see Gouff, Cissé and Hatem in a 433 and just bloody go for it. Three wins in four feels great, you just can’t beat that feeling when the final whistle goes on a win at St James’. Get in.