It’s great to be back! And what a difference a year makes.
12 months ago I was buzzing to get back to football after the restrictions of Covid. Then Arsenal let me down.
A year on we opened the Premier League season up once more with a trip away in London.
A much changed team from that Brentford defeat and a new wave of hope across the land. And this time the team didn’t let us down.
It was just good to be meeting up once more with old friends. Starting out drinking in London Bridge.
The football season is a bit like the first day back at school. You see people you have known for years for the first time in months and there are plenty of hugs, fist bumps and kisses to go around!
Selhurst Park is a great old ground which is still the heart of the community. But it is not without its faults.
It is probably the worst ground to try and get into and if (like me) you are on the rows for 40 upwards, you can only see half the pitch.
But I will take these to be in a proper football ground rather than a soulless bowl on an industrial park.
It was a bit cringey at the beginning as the famous Palace ultras (lol) did some weird display.
Over the summer Palace decided they were founded in 1861 rather than 1905. Anyone that has followed the story will know some historian has created some very tenuous links between a group of lads that played at Crystal Palace park in 1861 and the team that was established in 1905.
Palace have used it as some sort of marketing tool to launch plenty of ‘1861’ merchandise. And then Friday night they used the Holmsdale fanatics to publicise this. So much them claiming he displays are “fan led”.
Some plane flew about the ground before the game, but the less said about that the better. Palace fans also took the opportunity to boo Thomas Partey’s every touch.
With what has gone on publicly in the last few weeks, this was not a surprise and something Thomas will need to get used to during the season. Just like Robin van Persie had to about 10 years ago when he was accused of similar acts.
We looked good. We looked very good.
The movement and versatility of the front 3 had Palace defenders chasing shadows and we really should have scored before we did.
Eventually the opening goal came from a well worked corner with Gabriel Martinelli getting on the end of a smart header back from Olexsander Zinchenko.
On Zinchenko and Ben White, both performed excellently.
Considering both lack a little pace, the pair dealt with Palace’s speedy wingers with ease. White was especially impressive at right back where he let Zaha quiet for 90 minutes.
William Saliba also put in a fantastic debut. I might write a longer blog on him at a later date.
Back to the game. After going 1-nil up we had a few jittery moments at the back. This seemed to make us lose confidence and we reverted to backs against the wall defending.
The front 3 got through a lot of work and began to tire. Mikel Arteta probably should have freshened it up before he did but eventually he bought on KT at left back and Eddie up top.
Eddie reenergised upfront and shortly after he came one we got the second goal.
We have to remember that Jesus rarely played 90 minutes for Manchester City and has a high energy, high pressing game. What Arteta needs to do is establish the optimum time when Jesus is about to fall off a cliff physically and swap him out for Eddie. My bet is this will regularly be around the 65-70 minute mark.
The game perhaps showed that we are also on short out wide.
Like Jesus, Saka and Martinelli also dropped off physically. We could have done with another wide option (that isn’t Pepe) on the bench to bring on.
Maybe in the future this will be Zinchenko – if KT starts – but I wouldn’t mind if we added another winger to the first team squad.
Another player to come away from the game with immense credit was Granit Xhaka.
Whilst Martin Odergaard might wear the captains armband, Xhaka is this teams leader.
He was booked unfairly – highlighting once more than he is referees differently to any other player – but kept his cool and ran the game.
Post game it was a trek back to London Bridge, hit up the George for a few more beers till closing.
Great evening out with some great people watching some great football. It was just great.
Enjoy your Sunday.