Crystal Palace: How Do We Tame The Tigers?
I have fond memories of the corresponding fixture last year as it proved to be a watershed moment for the Eagles. Ian Holloway had been replaced by Tony Pulis but not quite in time for him to take the reins at the KC Stadium. So he watched from the stands as Keith Millen oversaw a precious away victory, which took us to seven points from 12 matches, riches indeed. It was made more memorable as I was watching the game live in the Sky studios as part of the Saturday Night Football audience along with two other Palace fans. We ended up causing such a kerfuffle, especially in the last few minutes as were hanging on with ten men, that nearly everybody was drawn to watching the game or rather watching us going through the agony and ecstasy of that narrow win.
Now we approach the game against Hull in an altogether better frame of mind, on the back of two draws and two victories in the league under Neil Warnock. The solid win against Leicester last week was based around the solid platform provided by the midfield trio of Jedinak, Ledley and the outstanding McArthur. Whilst the captain looked more like his old self and has now notched in two successive games and with Ledley thankfully returning from injury and showing assurance, McArthur increasingly exerted his influence over the match and the Scot began to look every bit the multi-million player we hoped. Allied with his industry and tenacity, he also has a smattering of skill and an eye for a pass so he has added another dimension to the team. As much of our midfield had gone missing in the early part of the season hopefully we can forget the Bermuda Triangle and welcome to the Selhurst Triangle.
The dominance in midfield also meant that the wide men, Puncheon and Bolasie were much more involved than in some of the earlier matches and although both can be hit and miss there was more of the former than the latter against the Foxes. Bolasie made frequent inroads past De Laet and posed a continual threat meanwhile Puncheon made the most of two dead balls by delivering excellent balls into the box that led to both goals. The conundrum is that with these two on fire there is no room for Zaha and he cut a familiarly forlorn figure on the bench. He must be sick and tired of being on the sidelines but hopefully his time will come sooner rather than later.
Hull are still suffering a bit of an identity crisis as Allam continues his one-man campaign to rebrand the club as the Tigers. Neither the vast majority of the fans nor the FA accept the idea and there are all sorts of repercussions hanging over the club at the moment. Bruce has done well to keep the players focused but they have been guilty of surrendering leads recently and even allowed Pardew’s hapless Newcastle to recover from two goals down to draw so there is something not quite right. They seem to have no trouble scoring but real problems in stopping goals at the other end.
So all the indicators are that there could be goals galore which probably means it will be a sterile, goalless draw.
Richard’s first book The A-Z of Football Hates is available in bookshops & online