Crystal Palace secured their own Premier League survival and confirmed Hull City’s relegation to the Championship with a 4-0 demolition at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.
Knowing that they would go down if defeated, the visitor’s afternoon got off to the worst possible start when Wilfried Zaha capitalised on a defensive error to slot home after just two minutes.
Things began to look even bleaker for Hull City when Christian Benteke’s bullet header doubled the advantage, before Marco Silva’s side were denied a clear penalty when Jason Puncheon hand-balled.
Yet gaps appeared as the visitors pushed forward, and Luka Milovojevic’s late penalty and Patrick van Aarnholt’s injury-time strike topped off a miserable afternoon – and a miserable season – for Hull.
Hull’s woeful away form costs them top-flight status
Hull City’s relegation straight back to the Championship was confirmed on Sunday afternoon as a poor first-half display proved too difficult to over-turn at Selhurst Park.
Relegation to the Championship seems harsh on Hull City boss Marco Silva, who has transformed the side since arriving over Christmas, but even he was unable to fix the Tigers’ woeful away record.
In 19 fixtures on the road this season Hull have only managed one victory – which came in their opening away trip to Swansea City – and ended the season losing 15 of their last 18 away matches.
Even since Silva took over Hull have only recorded two points from a possible 24 since his first away defeat at Stamford Bridge, finding the back of the net just three times during this period.
It seems a shame that – despite winning six of his eight matches at the KCOM since his arrival – Silva’s legacy will be known for losing their top-flight status; but Hull just haven’t been good enough.
Crystal Palace’s big players step up at the right time
Ask anybody who Crystal Palace’s main men have been during their battle to avoid the drop this year, and the majority would undoubtedly come out with Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke.
It was perhaps fitting then that, inside 35 first-half minutes, Palace’s impregnable duo came up with the goods when it mattered and scored a goal apiece to mathematically secure the Eagles’ survival.
Zaha capitalised on a horrible defensive slip from Andrea Ranocchia to give the hosts the lead after just 133 seconds, before Benteke powered in unmarked for his seventh header of the campaign.
Benteke’s effort also took his tally to 15 Premier League goals – the most he’s scored in a campaign since his debut season in 2012/13 – and the impact his physical presence up front has had cannot be underestimated.
The downside for Sam Allardyce is that, with these two performing so consistently this year, there’s almost certainly set to be interest in the summer – particularly in Wilfried Zaha’s case with North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham set to battle it out – but for now, it’s time to celebrate their great escape.
Hull City’s defence isn’t up to the job
Hull City’s defensive frailties were exploited once again at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke ensured that their next season will be spent back in the Championship.
The hosts’ opener was crafted from an individual error by Andrea Ranocchia, slipping and allowing Zaha all of the time in the world to compose himself and slot under Eldin Jakupovic, whilst Hull’s zonal marking failed once again as Christian Benteke freely nodded home.
Marco Silva’s insistency on maintaining a zonal marking system from set-pieces this season has horribly back-fired, with 21 of their 73 goals conceded coming from opposition dead ball situations alone.
Hull’s misery was then simply compounded late on as they were caught on the counter twice by Palace – although by that point the away side looked defeated and resigned to their fate.
The 4-0 defeat at Selhurst Park now means that Hull City have conceded 73 goals this season, more than any other side in the league; and it’s these issues at the back that have ultimately cost them.
Should Marco Silva remain in charge for the start of the Championship season in August – which is by no means a dead cert – then he’ll have no choice but to make heavy investment in the back four.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Christine Sanjaya.
Crystal Palace’s Premier League run-in could see them beat the drop
The Eagles are in the relegation zone with eight matches to play.
On the surface, Crystal Palace has little to cheer at the moment. Their last win came exactly two months ago, and although Roy Hodgson brought an initial uptick in results to Selhurst Park, the Eagles currently occupy 18th position.
Furthermore, Palace are coming off a brutal stretch of three straight losses to top-five clubs, all of which they excruciatingly lost by the solitary goal. Injuries have destroyed their first-team squad to the extent that an entire starting 11 can be compiled with players on the treatment table.
Yet, although this picture may appear bleak, a favourable run-in combined with the anticipated return of crucial players means Crystal Palace will be confident of retaining their Premier League status for a fifth straight season.
After a grueling stretch of matches versus Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea, the remaining eight matches present a plethora of winnable fixtures against teams in the bottom half of the table. Palace will play Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Brighton, Watford, Leicester, Stoke, and West Brom; a run-in of dreams.
The only match where the Eagles would not be expected to pick up all three points is the March 31st encounter with Liverpool. But Palace have shown remarkable fighting spirit and drive in their matches against the top sides in the division.
Crystal Palace near toppled Manchester City back in December, they raced out to a 2-0 lead against Manchester United, came within minutes of a draw against Spurs, and deserved a draw against Chelsea but were denied by a questionable disallowed goal.
The vital return of integral players in the coming weeks is also a massive boost for Palace’s survival hopes. On Monday, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye, and Mamadou Sakho all returned to training.
Welcoming these experienced professionals back into the first team set-up will be priceless, as all four returning players played enormous roles in the early revival under Hodgson.
Add in a run-in brimming with winnable fixtures, and the Eagles should just about have enough to avoid relegation come May.
Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United: Three talking points from Selhurst Park
The Red Devils mounted an incredible comeback at Selhurst Park.
Nemanja Matic scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit to inflict more pain on struggling Crystal Palace. Matic fired home from 25 yards to complete a memorable comeback from United, whose victory helped them regain second spot in the Premier League. Palace, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone after slipping to their third successive defeat.
Selhurst Park was rocking when Andros Townsend put the hosts ahead via a huge deflection, before Patrick van Aanholt doubled their lead shortly after the break. However, Chris Smalling gave United hope 10 minutes later and the visitors then restored parity through Romelu Lukaku. With time ebbing away the draw looked inevitable, only for Matic to break Palace’s hearts with his first goal for the club. Here are three talking points…
Palace’s survival hopes suffer a hammer blow
A week earlier, the Eagles thought they had earned a vital point against Spurs in their battle to avoid the drop. That was until Harry Kane popped up to snatch victory with practically the last touch of the game. A sense of deja-vu was palpable when, after another encouraging performance against one of the top-flight’s heavyweights, Matic ensured Palace went home empty-handed. It was a monumental body blow.
Roy Hodgson’s side had belied their lowly league position and taken the attack to United, deservedly assuming complete control. Had the score remained at 2-0, Palace would have been as high as 13th in the table. But United’s comeback, which left Hodgon and his players visibly deflated, means they are 18th, one point adrift of safety with an inferior goal difference. Although the performance was a positive one, the result leaves the South London club deep in the mire.
Mourinho buoyed as United show resilience
For all the talk about how this has been a disappointing campaign for United, they leapfrogged Liverpool into second place as a result of this stunning victory. Jose Mourinho’s men exhibited substantial amounts of steel in doing so. They faced a real test of character, having fallen behind against a team fighting for their lives. It looked like a mountainous task, but United fought their way back into the game before snatching all three points at the death.
This was the first time since 2013 that the Red Devils had clawed back a two-goal deficit to win a Premier League match. Of all their victories this season, perhaps this one will please Mourinho the most. Any divisions are quickly exposed when teams find themselves in trouble. But the way United stuck to their task was a big statement at a key stage of the season. It should give Mourinho belief that his side can see off the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the battle to finish runners-up.
Hodgson desperate for Wilfried Zaha’s return
Hodgson has previously tried to dismiss its significance, but Palace’s inability to win without Wilfried Zaha cannot be passed off as an anomaly. The Eagles have lost every single one of the nine Premier League games in which the 25-year-old has not featured this season, scoring only one goal in the process. For a while it looked as though that alarming record would be consigned to the history books, until United mounted an inspired comeback.
Zaha is clearly a talented individual whose absence would affect any team’s potency, but Palace’s over-reliance on him must be very concerning. The Ivory Coast international is currently sidelined through a knee injury and although he is back in light training, Hodgson has put no timeframe on his return to the fold. It’s no exaggeration to argue the Eagles’ survival aspirations depend on him.
Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham: Harry Kane proves his class with late winner
Tottenham managed to get a late winner against Crystal Palace to move into the Champions League places. They were the dominant force and had the better chances, but their final product wasn’t as reliable as usual. It looked as if an injury-hit Palace would earn a valuable point, but Harry Kane scored late on to win the game.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are hitting form at the right time and look a good bet to finish in the top four for the third successive season. Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson was visibly frustrated at the end of the game and he will be aware of his team’s position.
They are only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference and have a number of key players unavailable with matches against Manchester United and Chelsea on the horizon. Here are three talking points to come out of the game at Selhurst Park:
Harry Kane proved why he is world class
The England international will be the first to admit it wasn’t his best performance. He had six shots during the match and missed a couple of really good chances before he finally did find the back of the net.
However, he remained confident and continued to take attempts on goal. It was a good header and earned the side a crucial two points.
Although Kane can miss a lot of chances and he did during this match, he doesn’t allow himself to get affected by his misses. Alvaro Morata is a high-profile striker that appears to lose confidence in himself after a big miss and that is a worrying trait to have as a goal-scorer.
The Tottenham number ten doesn’t have that and a miss only motivates him more. That was evident on Sunday. That shows an elite level mentality and one of the reasons why Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world. Despite playing poorly against Crystal Palace, he worked hard and got the crucial goal. That is all that matters.
Crystal Palace’s injury crisis could cost them their Premier League status
With ten matches to go, Crystal Palace will be confident that they can stay up as they have a more talented squad than the majority of clubs down there.
However, a lot of their best players are out injured right now and they were hindered by that on Sunday. They had only 24% possession and offered little attacking threat.
They were missing Wilfried Zaha, Scott Dann, Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon, Joel Ward, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and a number of other first-team players. Their woes were compounded on Sunday as James Tomkins was forced off with an injury.
Palace’s next two matches are against Manchester United and Chelsea, two teams competing for a Champions League place. On one hand, these are tough matches that they would be outsiders in with a fit squad, therefore it is beneficial these are being played now.
That said, they are slipping closer to the relegation zone and building negative momentum at a bad time. Supporters will be more worried than they were at the beginning of the month.
Eric Dier impressed at centre-back
The 24-year-old is a great squad player to have and he showed his versatility on Sunday as he filled in at centre-back in the absence of Jan Vertonghen.
Toby Alderweireld suffered a setback and it was important that Tottenham fielded a player with experience there. Dier has benefitted from focusing on the midfield role in terms of development, but he remains able of filling in at the back.
During the match, he won four aerial duels and completed four ball recoveries. The time spent playing midfield has helped him develop on the ball and his distribution was very good on Sunday, as he completed 90% of his passes.
Tottenham will be hopeful of getting both Alderweireld and Vertonghen back together at the heart of their defence for the run-in, but the fact that they kept a clean sheet without both is encouraging. They have built a strong squad under Pochettino with plenty of options in every posiion and Dier’s centre-back display underlines that.
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