Wednesday, December 4

Feeling bad all over

Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 0

The Arthur Wait Stand is a throwback structure with aisles that are two feet wide, wooden seats and a camera gantry that obscures aerial action. Well worth £32. Meanwhile there are dancing girls on the pitch and a live eagle is flying around the Selhurst Park pitch, which makes me fearful that Andy Carroll might find another way of getting injured through an unfortunate talon attack. 

“We all live in a Winston Reid world…” sing the West Ham fans, though it’s telling that our best player is a defender and is injured. Nigel joins me and eventually Fraser — who is performing with Dexys later to judge by his beret — and Matt arrive ten minutes late as they have been supping real ale at Victoria, with Matt traumatised by his failure to buy a programme. He has therefore missed the Kevin Day column and a picture of the Palace chairman with a dodgy Barnet who looks like a cloned Simon Jordan.

Palace have ex-Hammers Gabbidon and Chamakh playing for them, with Fraser remarking that Chamakh will never score in the PL again. West Ham have much the better of the first half, nullifying Palace and then creating several chances around the half hour mark. Morrison is clattered and from the free kick Noble scoops the ball to Nolan who fails to connect properly with his volley. Diame sends a free header over and then Carlton Cole is through, but rather than shoot he passes to Downing who fails to control it and another chance is gone.

Just before half-time Palace win a corner after a mistake by Nolan. The first corner is cleared but Bannon flights in a decent second ball and useless Marouane Chamakh who looked so lightweight at West Ham loses his marker to glide in a header. Typical. Palace are now feeling Glad All Over.

We try to head to the concourse at half-time but by the time we get through the crush it’s time to come back. Palace look inspired and have three quick chances, with Jussi saving well from Puncheon and the lively Jerome, and another header going over the bar.

Several players are underperforming; Downing is not playing anything like as well as he did on Saturday, Nolan is anonymous, Diame is out of position out wide and Rat looks unfit at left back. We have a close-up view of endless overhit balls from Diame being chased by Joey O’Brien down the right-wing.

West Ham do exert pressure though, as Maiga and Joe Cole come on. Downing looks to have fired home an equaliser but Joey O’Brien is penalised for a dubious foul on Chamakh when both players are tugging each other in the sort of tussle that happens all the time in the box.

Downing has a free kick saved but generally our crosses head into five Palace defenders with Gabbidon suddenly becoming a colossus against his old team and Tony Pulis having obviously instilled some organisation and resilience. The Palace end is now bouncing and waving flags. 

Even five minutes of added time can’t save WHU as Palace go close again and the Vicar’s Son gets angrier. At the final whistle Tomkins gets involved in a scuffle and then Morrison runs 40 yards to shove a Palace player in the face – he gets a yellow card but is lucky not to receive a red.

Nigel fails to be clinical in his train-catching at Selhurst station as we just miss the fast train to Victoria, but at least we make it to the Shakespeare for a pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord. We contemplate the fact that Sunderland is now a must-win game, assuming we lose at Liverpool and Man United. And then there’s Arsenal to come… we could certainly be in the bottom three at Christmas.

At least Allardyce is angry after the game, furious at the poor defending from a corner and the officials for penalising O’Brien. We’ve wasted the Fulham performance and once the Irons have paid the price for not scoring when in control of a game.

PLAYER RATINGS: Jaaskelainen 7, O'Brien 5, Tomkins 6, Collins 6, Rat 5, Nolan 5, Noble 6, Diame 6. Morrison 6, Downing 6, Cole 5. 


Phil Nichols said...

Two performances that demonstrate we really are in a relegation fight. Fulham we were woeful, but Pulis has clearly galvanised Palace. I think our saving grace is that there are at least 3 teams worse than us, which is not much to cling to.

Where to start? Diame is not a wide player, nor is he the force he was a year ago. Nolan needs a rest (that's being polite), at least until the big Geordie makes his triumphant return. Downing is frustrating, but there is always an expectation that something might happen when he gets the ball.

Pete May said...

Yes Phil, we have to hope likes of Norwich, Fulham, Palace and Sunderland are worse than us. And agree about Nolan…