Chamakh Key Man As Crystal Palace Visit Swansea
So after the momentous victory against Liverpool, the trip to Swansea provides an acid test of whether last Sunday was a pivotal moment or a one-off. After a barren run of five matches with just one point gained, the team’s confidence was clearly ebbing away faster than a Bolasie dash down the wing.
The fans, me included, were questioning the wisdom of bringing gnarled Warnock back for another stab at keeping a team in the Premier League. Despite Lambert notching after a mere 90 seconds, there was a sense of transformation with a genuine resurgence of the counter-attacking style that had served us so well last season. Crystanbul 2 was completed by two late goals, buoyed by a frenetic atmosphere and a thoroughly merited victory.
Maybe we were fortunate to meet Liverpool at a low ebb but Swansea will be a different proposition. The Swans have proved themselves over the last few years in establishing the club comfortably in the middle of the Premier League and shown that it is quite possible to play decent football and get results.
Added to which they have proper fan representation enshrined in their ownership and you can see why they provide the model for all teams aspiring to survive and thrive in the top division.
Warnock has also pumped up their tyres by describing them “as the best team I have seen this season”, and I would add that their performance in dismantling us at home last season was as complete a shellacking as I have witnessed.
So in all aspects we have a sizeable challenge on our hands to match last year’s creditable 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium. To have any chance it is essential that Bolasie reproduces his electric form and continues to offer pace and skill in abundance, whilst Puncheon works his little socks off. And surely Gayle must start if only to prove that he can score against teams other than Liverpool.
We can hopefully rely on our midfield being as solid and hard-working as ever, even if we cannot expect another Jedinak 30 yard pile-driver - that would be unrealistic. The other key is the performance of Chamakh, who was justifiably praised on MOTD 2 for his work rate last Sunday.
He covered more ground than any other player and has the skill and touch to match, in fact I am thinking of reproducing his heat map as a duvet cover in time for Christmas. When he’s up for the fight Chammers makes the team tick and we need him to be at his rumbustious best to disturb the neat passing of Swansea as well as being the fulcrum for our attacks.
Richard’s book, The A-Z of Football Hates is the perfect stocking filler & is out now.