After Crystal Palace's comprehensive 2-0 win over Leicester City, Mark Gardiner looks at the performance in more detail Which leaves Neil Warnock unbeaten since he returned to manage the club.
That was probably the most commanding performance I have seen from a Crystal Palace team in the top flight – I missed the 4-1 demolition of Ipswich in 1979 which was previously regarded as our high-water mark. Although we had great wins last season, especially against Chelsea, they were often victories chiselled out through grit, craft and the counter-attack, along with a healthy dollop of good fortune at times and the odd brilliant points-saving stop from Speroni.
This was a step up from those displays with Palace in control for long spells of the match, including virtually the entire second half, against a Leicester team that was no pushover, although I did think glancing at the teams that our squad appeared that much deeper. Every single starting outfield player turned in at least a far better than average performance – and if that sound unfair on Julian then it’s because frankly he had very little to do.
Neil Warnock sent out an unchanged starting XI although both Ledley & McArthur played further forward than at the start at Everton, and both wingers had less defensive duties to concern them. Leicester fielded a quite attacking looking 4-3-3 but despite both sides’ obvious intentions the match took a long time to even approach interesting, the first effort on goal not coming until well after 10 minutes had passed as passes were mis-placed. Vardy’s effort was a good chance and well blocked by Speroni, but that was the Foxes’ only serious attempt at goal in the first half. Palace’s wingers started to cause problems and created chances for Campbell, one which was glanced wide and the other taken off his forehead by Puncheon.
Palace’s midfield exerted gradual control and sparked a spell of chances in short order: a Ledley header was cleared off the line; Puncheon’s cross-shot was saved at full stretch by Schmeichel; and Campbell was wide with yet another glancing header. The work rate of everyone was substantial but the key was probably McArthur, marrying industry and steel with skill, looking every inch worth the record fee paid.
I felt it was unfortunate that half time came just as Leicester had ceded control, and the start of the second half could have proved that thought true, as Leicester worked a chance that saw a goal-bound shot somehow deflected wide by an almost unknowing Ward. From the second of the corners that followed Ward & Speroni foiled a near post effort.
Yet that was Leicester’s last effort as after that Palace pressed them high up the pitch, suffocating any attacking intent, and if by chance the midfield barrier was breached Damien Delaney inevitably turned up to whip the ball off a Fox’s toes or take down a cross & clear it. Bolasie was starting to make De Laet look inadequate and then two goals came in quick succession from set pieces. A corner was sent to the far post where Jedinak (or was it Dann?) knocked the ball down and Campbell finished from close range.
Three minutes later a Puncheon free kick from the opposite flank found Jedinak whose header was powered past Schmeichel. After that Palace, playing at an intense high tempo, could – and perhaps should – have made the game really safe with Bolasie continuing his Goodison form and Puncheon not far behind. Two stunning moves stood out: an interception and run by Delaney sparking a devastating counter-attack down the left only for Damien to miss the final cross; and a wonderful passing move that ended with substitute Chamakh’s diving header clipping the roof of the net. Quite simply it was almost like watching last season’s home game against City but with Leicester as Premier League ingénues, as Palace towards the end slowed the game down in complete control.
Speroni – 7 – Important early block of Vardy’s effort and helped repel Leicester’s brief assault at the start of the second half, as well as collecting crosses, punching one dangerous one clear, and diving at strikers’ feet. Also seemed to pick up a knock to his thigh. Realistically it should be a 6 but no-one in the starting XI deserves less than 7 on principle!
Ward – 7 – Most important touch was when he got in the way of Nugent’s effort, thus breaking the latter’s evil hex on Palace as he always scores... Fine work at the back and always ready to help Bolasie down the left.
Kelly – 7 – Continues a series of quietly efficient performances with the odd moment of attacking intent as well; could be another of those understated but crucial signings.
Delaney – 8 – Seemed to be everywhere snuffing out even the hint of a Leicester attack. His sheer determination not to be beaten makes up for any perceived lack of ability at the top level. Brought back memories of Jim Cannon’s “mazy’s” with Beckenbauer-like break from the back.
Dann – 7 – Solid hard-working performance – not sure if it was he or Jedinak with the header for Campbell’s goal, but if it was Scott then that just added lustre to another excellentshowing.
Jedinak – 7 – After a quiet start Jedi was instrumental in slowly prising Leicester’s hold on midfield and then turning the screw in the second half, back to his best. Certainly scored one and may have made another. His passing was much, much better as well.
Ledley – 7 – Another who helped crush the life out of the Foxes, doing a lot of the unglamorous defensive work but unlucky not to score with a first-half header.
McArthur – 8 – Simply outstanding, could be the piece that helps us move on from Pulis’s hard-working grafting side to Warnock’s hard-working, grafting and skilful side. His arrival appears to have lifted some of the burden from Jedinak, allowing the skipper greater freedom and time on the ball. Showed an excellent range of passing allied to a willingness to work hard, put in the tackles and won a number of balls inthe air; even saw out the whole game despite picking up a knock late on.
Bolasie – 8 – The only thing missing from this week’sperformance was a goal and Bolasie came close on a couple of occasions. He saw off yet another fullback who couldn’t cope with the trickery & pace, then switched to show up Konchesky’s deficiencies. On this form will do that to better opponents than De Laet.
Puncheon – 7 – Not far behind Bolasie in potential threat and his set piece delivery caused Leicester no end of problems.Only denied a goal by Schmeichel’s agility.
Campbell – 7 – Worked damned hard, exemplified by his closing down of Schmeichel & block of a clearance. Withbetter luck would have scored more than the one he did, but playing with obvious confidence looked a far better part of the functional Palace team.
Chamakh – 7 – If only his header had been a few inches lower then we would have had a goal to rival Cannon’s on that afternoon in ’79. Gave the ball away a couple of times as hegrew used to the pace of the game but also held the ball up well, creating openings for others.
Guédioura – 6 – Late substitute who had little time to show he too could reach the same level of performance.
Pod ahoy! A win! Finally, a win! Palace came from behind to beat Everton at Goodison Park in a replica of last season's result so there was something for Streety to be happy about for once as the Eagles recorded their first league victory of the season.
Usual anchor, James Daly is away, so FYP Fanzine editor Rob Sutherland hosts the pod and the team discuss the enthralling victory over Everton.
Matt Woosnam also joins the team to update us on the CPFC youth teams and those youngsters to look out for.
They also answer your Facebook messages and tweets.
So join Rob Sutherland, Kevin Day, and Andy Street for an hour and 10 minutes of CPFC chat.
And check out the podcast's lovely sponsors Vektor Printing
Rob Sutherland gives the much anticipated new game a look over.
As a Palace fan, I'm biased. I'm man enough to admit it, and those who read this are likely to be biased too. So here it is. My biased review of FIFA15.
Electronic Arts have fallen into the 'Pulis made Palace 100% better' camp of football punditry.
It's a mistake many media organisation have made, and it's forgivable because Pulis's rule at the club completely changed Palace's fortunes. However - and this is a point that Julian Speroni touched upon in an interview with the Croydon Advertiser - the players did their bit (and more) to keep the club up. So while Pulis instilled the organisation, the talent was there.
The club's who lost home and away to the Eagles did so because the players were that much better than them; Yannick Bolasie was highlighted by Seamus Coleman as one of his toughest opponents last season, John Stones will probably say the same after this season's encounter.
But FIFA 15's ratings would have you believe it was just luck. Or the Pulis effect. Neither Bolasie or his fellow wingman Jason Puncheon are rated that highly, at 71 out of 100. Barry Bannan, who barely featured last season, gets a 75. His Scotland teammate (and arguably a better all-rounder) James McArthur gets a 71 also. The ratings are akin of a side that just got promoted rather than one with the talent to have finished 11th.
Of course, ratings are subjective. But Jason Puncheon is, on current form, a player easily capable of playing for a side higher in the league ladder. The same can be said of Scott Dann, whose consistency has helped establish him as one of the better centre-backs in the league - his rating of 73 is one of the more insulting ones.
So yeah, the ratings aren't great. What EA have done beautifully however is the immersive detail - from player likenesses to stadium realism to matchday sounds - they've got it spot on. Palace's team now features exact facial representations of a large part of the squad, from Speroni to Gayle -- you won't just have players with similar looks; they're exact scans of player faces.
Additionally, the sound of the Red and Blue Army chanting some of our favourites throughout matches makes it feel like you're actually there. Selhurst looks immaculate (although it's in its iteration from last season rather than the Neteller-branded one that we're now accustomed to) and each stand is meticulously recreated. Supporters react to the action better than ever, and you get a real feel for the match that you're playing.
If there's one minor complaint, it's that chants would be better if they were triggered by a specific action - hearing the Speroni song when he's not made a save all match is a little odd - although it's nice to be reminded of his presence on the pitch, perhaps.
FIFA15's game play is the most advanced it has ever been - from the tackles, to the passes, to the movement, to the chance creation, it just feels like football should. For example, if you get a cross spot on, and time the header perfectly, you'll score a typically English goal - and the effects you see give it that feeling of actual achievement - it's beautiful in its execution.
Where it might just fall down a little on game play is the difficulty. Even on professional level, getting a win at the Emirates wasn't as difficult as it perhaps should have been. Then again, perhaps I'm just that good?
Whatever the case, if you're a Palace fan and you want to indulge in a little football simulation, this edition of the FIFA series is without doubt the most in-depth and enjoyable yet.
FIFA 15 is available across all platforms in shops now!
It's not often that players influence a match after coming on with 15 minutes to go; but one youngster did just that on Wednesday after scoring a late equaliser for Palace to send their Capital One Cup tie with Newcastle into extra time.
Palace may have fielded Jonny Williams and Wilfried Zaha against Newcastle on Wednesday, but it was the new kids on the block who impressed more.
Deadline day in the summer saw the Eagles miss out on young Birmingham wide man Demarai Gray after a £500k bid was rejected; but one man who certainly isn’t going to be demanding the club go after him again in January is Sullay KaiKai.
As Crystal Palace Football Club began to rebuild from a crushing administration period in 2010, life was breathed back into the club. A youngster by the name of Wilfried Zaha scored on his full debut for the club and so began a journey of remarkable proportions, but he was not the only teenager signed to the club. KaiKai joined the club that summer, earning a scholarship. So, to see him go one better than Zaha and find the net in the final minute of stoppage time on his debut, after coming on with less than 15 minutes to go, ponders the question; what is this young man capable of?
Most supporters will be acutely aware of his prodigious talent. A wide man with pace to burn, but known most of all for his astounding finishing ability and supreme set piece skills; KaiKai has plenty of attributes which make him one to watch.
Born to Sierra Leonean parents, the 19-year-old joined Palace at the age of 15 from now defunct Fisher Athletic – a local semi professional club – and since then he has not looked back. Having impressed in the U16 side he began appearing for Palace U18s where it didn’t take him long to make an impression.
In October 2012, KaiKai robbed a Liverpool defender of the ball and chipped an audacious attempt over the goalkeeper to help seal a 5-3 home victory in which Jake Gray also netted twice. That goal won him the League Football Education goal of the season. His team-mate Gray still maintains his mazy run and finish in the same match was the better goal, but that just shows the good natured rivalry existing within the youth set-up at Palace.
The goal demonstrated was an awareness and determination to chase and win the ball, something KaiKai has never been afraid to do. The glamorous side of his game alongside the gritty side demonstrated in one goal.
A move which perhaps earned him a professional contract later down the line was the decision to change his position. Originally a striker, KaiKai was seen as a more natural wide man and as such the decision was made to put him on the left wing. He never looked back, impressing in the U18s and earning a step up to the newly established U21 side; where his goal ratio at one stage stood at 11 in 8 last season, with a similar record the year previous. Indeed, KaiKai highlighted his all round ability when it came to finding the back of the net. The 19-year-old fired home from a number of free kicks, before also troubling the scoreboard with some audacious long range efforts.
Joining Palace enabled him to develop into a more rounded player, and he was rewarded with a professional contract at Christmas 2012, before later extending it until June 2018. A trip to Portugal on the first team’s pre-season tour in 2013 presented an opportunity to impress in a first team environment, but a break-through was not forthcoming.
Nonetheless, an excellent goalscoring record at U21 level in the previous two seasons ensured KaiKai trained with and travelled with the first team to matches on a number of occasions, including Palace’s FA Cup tie with Wigan last season. Eventually, he made his debut, coming on against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup last week. What a debut it was, with time almost up and Palace frantically seeking an equaliser, the ball fell to KaiKai near the back post, but Rob Elliot saved his initial effort; before he tucked away the rebound with aplomb. Cue wild celebrations from the youngster.
KaiKai has matured as a footballer tremendously since joining Palace, and although he can be marked out of games at times, or fail to influence some matches, when he is on his game he can be unstoppable. Deadly from set pieces, another tick goes in the box for potential. A career in acting may beckon should football not work out, after he made a brief appearance on CBBC in the summer. If he keeps developing at the rate he has, then kids will know the name Sullay KaiKai for appearing on Match of the Day, not CBBC.