When you hit a hurdle in the race of life, you have two options.
The first is you regain your balance, and drive towards the next hurdle. The other option is you fall to the floor, feel sorry for yourself and blame that hurdle for ruining your race.
I had two choices today with the blog.
The first was to look back on Thursday’s result, feel sorry for ourselves, dwel on nothing going our way, point out everything that went wrong, and then allow it to ruin the build up to our next game.
Alternatively, I could look forward. Put the game in my wing mirrors and drive away for it, focusing on the further journey ahead. And that is what we are doing.
Crystal Palace at home is up next.
We face a Palace team who are the worst in the Premier League in 2023, and that have just sacked their manager Patrick Vieira.
Zero wins and just 4 goals in their 11 games since the turn of the year, in recent weeks they have not even been able to muster a shot on goal.
On paper, it should be an easy win. But games are not won on paper.
We all remember Everton away not too long ago, and how they bounced back with a new manager. Beat us 1-nil.
Palace have also been a bit of a bogey team for us in recent seasons – we have beaten them just twice in 9 games.
They are set up perfectly to exploit our high line, with the quick, strong, trickey wingers. And that is how they have scored 16 goals against us in those 9 games.
Traditionally they would sit back, soak up pressure, and then hit us on the counter. And when Palace were 1-0 up they were more dangerous.
As sides would throw more men into attack, they would be more space for them to launch a counter.
But then they have crumbled for a reason. And I would be surprised if that reason is suddnely lifted in the 48 hours they have without Vieira.
Wilfried Zaha looks a shadow of the man he was, whilst his heir apparent Michael Olise has not really kicked on.
Olise is one of these players that looks classy on the ball. A silky right winger with a lovely left foot. But his output does not justify the hype around his talent – just 4 goals in the 2 seasons he has been at Palace.
Eberechi Eze is another who has not really kicked on. Now 24, he is no longer a talented youngster and looks distinctly average.
The 3 are all fairly lazy in defence. None are high tempo pressers. And that does not suit the current game where your forward line are expected to put in a shift.
You could perhaps accomodate one of them (Zaha) and the lack of defensive shift. But having all 3 on the pitch means that sides can too easily build up their play.
Connor Gallagher has been a huge miss this season. He was the one that covered that ground defensively in the attacking third.
Palace will also be without Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga tomorrow.
The Belgium has played well since getting a taxi south of the river. He will probably be replaced by Luka Milivojevic.
Milivojevic best days are behind him and his legs are gone. And with no James McArthur, it will be down to Chieck Doucoure to be to try and cover Arsenal’s midfield.
And this is where Palace differ to Everton,
Everton could pack the mdifield with Gueye, Onana and Doucoure (a different one!). Whilst on the wings they had the hard working Alex Iwobi and Dwight McNeil.
They worked hard to keep a clean sheet and took their chance with a corner.
I just can not see a midfield of Milivojevic and Doucoure having the answer to Odegaard, Xhaka, Partey, Saka and Martinelli. Especially when you take into account how little cover they will have from their attackers.
We could probably afford to sit a little deeper against Palace. Their front 3 should be fairly easy to play through and Partey will have the space of the Emirates to dictate play on the half way line.
With Palace at home followed by an international break, you can see why Mikel Arteta went fairly strong on Thursday night.
Like me, Arteta will already have the team looking forward to tomorrow. There will be no space to lick your wounds. We need to have the mentality of champions and focus on our next 11 games.
And that is what it is all about. The next 11 games.
We can not let a single game against Sporting define our season. We need to regain our balance and drive forward once more.
We might have lost the battle on Thursday night, but we can still win the war.
Quite harsh on olise considering the quality around him plus in terms of assists he is quite impressive.if we have him in our team i’d be delighted but dare i say i think marquinhos will be ready next season so no need for another RW except if reiss nelson is released which is unlikely. i’m now more confident we will win the league now that it’s all we’ve got to focus on.COYG!!!