It wasn’t pretty and it was another performance where we lacked quality and intent in attack, but it’s a good point in the end – with us standing strong and defending well in a game that Palace dominated.
In a game where we were hoping for our first win of the season, it’s fair to say three points never looked likely, but a point on the road, several strong performances at the back and an away clean sheet are three positives to take.
A worrying sign was our lack of creativity or cutting edge in attack – with us rarely looking keen to commit bodies forward – however it’s perhaps quite apt that Mike Ashley was in attendance (for the first time in 18 months!) to see how much we lack quality in those areas.
I said before kick off that keeping Zaha quiet was key – and Yedlin did a superb job of that.
Zaha didn’t quite look his normal self – and the fact he had problems with his back in the warm up could explain that – but we did a very good job of keeping him at bay.
We did get lucky, mind. Despite 62% of the ball, they did only manage four shots on target, however Mamadou Sakho should’ve given them all three points. In his only mistake of the game, Dubravka misread the flight of Townsend’s cross, leaving Sakho free to nod into an empty net at the far post. It looked a certain goal, but, thankfully, he missed.
Dubravka was reliable and, aside from the above, did everything right – but it was Lascelles and Fernandez’s strong showing at centre-back that was perhaps the biggest plus point.
They won just about everything in the air, read the game well and made some brilliant covering tackles to stop Zaha in his tracks. We’ve come to expect strong and reliable displays from the skipper, but Fernandez was outstanding once again and my man of the match.
Shelvey showed glimpses of quality (although our deep lying position in the game limited his ability to do damage), Diame got stuck in well, Kenedy struggled, Perez was soft and ineffective and Rondon barely got a kick.
Interestingly, we’ve not actually conceded a goal yet when we’ve played a side outside the top 6, but we’ve not scored one in those games either (with Palace and Cardiff away both ending 0-0) – a stat that perfectly sums up our biggest strength and clear weakness.
Leicester at home next. A point is something to build on, but we’ll have to be much better going forward if we’re to get all three next weekend.