No Clean Sheet Again

Monday 18th April 2016

I do wonder whether those who were questioning why Petr Cech wasn’t picked last week when he was fit enough to be on the bench will now ask the question as to whether Ospina would have saved Palace’s equaliser. I doubt it. As that would mean admitting the player they demanded being back’s error arguably went a long way to us losing 2 crucial points.

That’s not me being critical of one individual, it would take something seriously out of order for me to go down that line, not just a mistake. We didn’t play well enough as a team yesterday from the first to the last minute unfortunately. And although that is definitely the most worrying aspect, one fact remains more important than all others. The result.

And short of totally boring you with my repetitiveness, if you don’t concede there is always a very good chance you will go on to win the game. Yet again however, we were unable to achieve that and that has lost us two more points, no matter how badly we played or lacked the creativity to match our considerable possession.

Continuing my light hearted look back at corresponding fixtures down the years, neither scoring or not conceding were a problem 25 years ago when a Palace side containing the likes of Nigel Martyn, Geoff Thomas, Mark Bright and someone called Ian Wright were thoroughly spanked 4 nil at Highbury.

Everyone has a ‘nearest game to their birthday’ situation and on this occasion this was mine. Not only was it my 21st and we had bumper numbers in our group on the North Bank that day but little did I know as we tore the Eagles apart that my family and friends had arranged a surprise party for me that night when we returned home. I always think it is strange how if your train of thought is completely off the scent in this situation, you genuinely have no idea. Even when one or two of my mates completely forgot the plan and said, “see you tonight” when we parted company after the game!

The season was to prove one of memories, some of them were not so good such as getting docked 2 points due to the Old Trafford ‘brawl’, our captain doing a ‘stretch’ and a cup semi defeat when another potential double was on but ultimately winning the league title is always going to far outweigh anything like that. The Palace at home win was another step to adding that historical achievement to that already lengthy list, one that has got longer and longer ever since.

3 months from glory

3 months from glory

As for the matchday programme, his manager’s notes saw George revelling in our success in the FA Cup up at Leeds the previous week, our 4th attempt to overcome the men from Yorkshire and progress to the 5th round and the right to take on Shrewsbury at a sodden Gay Meadow. Elsewhere the Highbury Mailbag contained a letter from a fan quoting the line ‘I hope we don’t have to get used to TV dictating the fixtures’! Oh dear!! The info page advised umbrellas were now banned from the stadium whilst Commercial Corner confirmed shell suits were now in stock in the club shop. “But please hurry because demand for the first consignment was very intense!” they warned us!!!!

I think I’ve still got mine.

Coming back to the present and taking a bag to a football match is never easy, especially one of any size. An entertaining weekend involving Muse at the o2 on Friday night and a visit to friends and fellow Gooners up near the Essex/Cambridgeshire border dictated I had little choice on this occasion, especially with time being of an essence if I was to get home at a sensible hour after the game.

Today’s understandable additional security of course makes the whole situation even more of a grind. Consequently I have fatigue in bundles accompanying my considerable frustration and disappointment.

So what went wrong?

It’s difficult to pinpoint to be honest. But we definitely lacked sharpness, creativity and ability on the day to overcome an extremely average Palace outfit despite having ridiculous amounts of possession as is the norm in the vast majority of our games.

Our powerful performance at Everton, the trouncing of Watford and even our efforts at West Ham made it difficult to see it coming to be fair, although if you analyse our whole season it has probably been our most inconsistent of recent times. Match reports and further debate can be read in many hundreds of places of course, with opinions ranging from the considered to the ridiculous. But too many games this season have been similar to yesterday. Where we have dominated the possession, usually conceded and failed to take the three points. And that has cost us. Possibly in fact, from winning the title.

What the long term future holds remains to be seen.

In the short term however, a win on a Thursday is completely essential.

Keeping that faith.



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