Vital Palace Blogs

The Palace Early Season Review


With the 2019/20 season well underway, the November international break has given us plenty of time to reflect on the first 12 games of the season. As usual, there has been plenty to cheer about and the odd low point to bring us all crashing back down to earth.

It was an underwhelming start to the season with the 0-0 home draw to Everton and it seemed as if both teams were still in pre-season mode. Our inability to capitalise on Morgan Schneiderlin”s sending off left us with worries about whether we would continue with our failure to score at home from last season.

Things didn’t get much better away at Sheffield United next. The newly promoted Blades outplayed us in every department and disappointment set in about the lack of cutting edge, creativity and talent in our squad after the hosts comfortably beat us 1-0.

With Man United our next fixture going into the August bank holiday, we were sitting in 14th place without winning or scoring and heading to Old Trafford, a ground where we historically find it difficult to gain points, having not won there since 1991. But Jordan Ayew’s beautifully composed finish in the first half and Van Aanholt’s injury time strike dramatically broke the 28 year run of disappointment as we earned a hard fought 2-1 victory to kick start our season in the best possible way.

In typical Palace fashion, we faced Colchester in the EFL Cup days after the historic win over United and lost on penalties after an awful display finished 0-0 at Selhurst Park leaving many of us to question Hodgson’s tactics and why we failed to play attacking football against a side two leagues below us, despite fielding a strong side.

Luckily, the loss didn’t carry over to our league form as a win over Aston Villa sparked an excellent run of form which saw us lose just once and win three of our next five, propelling us rapidly up the table to 6th place going into the October international break.

Within this run, controversy and talking points were aplenty. Henri Lansbury’s late goal was ruled out in the 1-0 win over Villa, sparking outrage in the away end at Selhurst Park. A dreadful display away to Spurs lead to a 4-0 defeat and questions were raised about the ability of defenders Patrick Van Aanholt and Mamdou Sakho and the declining impact of Wilfried Zaha.

A late equaliser from 10 man Wolves against in the following fixture left fans wondering how long we can put up with Benteke’s inability to score and again highlighted our scoring problems in general at home. Then the comeback against West Ham was saved by VAR as we secured all three points as Jordan Ayew’s late tap in was fairly given, much to the annoyance of West Ham fans.

This fine run left people questioning whether our form could be sustained and early talk of European qualification sprung up in pockets on social media. Jordan Ayew was rightly earning plaudits for his four goals so far and Hodgson was praised for his hard to beat set up and regimented drilling of the team.

However, the recent run against four teams in the top six has only yielded one point for us since mid October, quickly bringing most of us back down to earth and to 12th in the league. The solitary point coming from another VAR dominated display in the 2-2 draw at the Emirates.

With unbeaten table toppers Liverpool next, the losses could continue this weekend, although we can’t write off Palace in situations like this.

Largely speaking, it has been a steady start to the season and it has been one of our best in recent years. We picked up vital points against teams we will, realistically, be competing against in the latter stages of the season. After the Liverpool fixture, Hodgson must be targeting a more favourable run of fixtures and he will certainly be preparing the team for a stronger run of results moving into late November and through December.

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