Block G Report: Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Swansea City

By - Sunday 22nd September, 2013

A goal at the start of each half sees off injury-stricken Eagles

Much of the pre-match focus was on how Swansea’s busy schedule may damage their chances of a result, this being their third match in six days; albeit the previous two games had yielded impressive results, a draw away at Liverpool and in particular a 3-0 away win at Valencia in the Europa League. For Palace, the focus was on the debutants, with four players (Mariappa, Guedioura, Bannan and Jerome) making their first appearances at Selhurst Park in the red and blue.

Unfortunately for the home team, Swansea striker Michu banished any thoughts of tiredness from the Welsh side within the first two minutes; with Palace barely having a touch of the ball, the tall Spaniard slotted the ball past Speroni after a good pass from Jonjo Shelvey. The Eagles failed to really get going in the first twenty minutes, with a lack of confidence evident in misplaced passes and late challenges. For their part, Swansea were excellent – it is hard to imagine that they were newcomers to the Premier League themselves just two years ago.

Palace grew into the game as the half went on, but had no clear cut chances on goal – Algerian Guedioura with a long range drive from a well worked free-kick, and a cross which narrowly missed Marouane Chamakh’s head the only opportunities of note. Swansea had the greater of the chances, with Speroni forced into a trademark spectacular save after a volley from Angel Rangel on the edge of the box.

The result was all but sealed soon after the start of the second half; with Palace defender Delaney replaced at half time after picking up an injury in the dying seconds of the first half, forcing captain Jedinak to an unfamiliar centre back role, the team looked in disarray as Nathan Dyer buried an easy chance from eight yards, following another good Speroni save from Alvaro Vazquez.

From thereon, Palace created few chances, with Swansea missing the opportunity to grab another couple of goals after wasteful play from Michu and Vazquez, and having another ruled out for offside. The home team threw on Jerome Thomas, Dwight Gayle and Jose Campana in the second half, which added more pace and guile to the attacking play. Yet it was Swansea who were deserved winners, controlling the ball for the vast majority of the game and effortlessly seeing off the threat from the home team.

There will be concern in the Eagles’ ranks as to whom will form the defence next weekend against Southampton

Much to learn then for Crystal Palace. The south-Londoners shouldn’t be too downhearted; whilst many imagined Swansea would be tired after a busy week, alternatively having played more matches than Palace this season (owing to European commitments) they have had more time to integrate new players and ideas. This was, as mentioned, the first time many of the Palace players had started a competitive game with each other, and perhaps it showed. The disjointed passing and lack of confidence was in stark contrast to the previous home game against Sunderland.

Michu’s early strike sapped the confidence of the south-Londoners. Photo by Benjamin Blackler. Image used under Creative Commons License.

There were some positives to take. Barry Bannan in particular had a promising debut; the Scotsman’s alarming similarity to fellow Eagles midfielder Jonathan Williams can only be a positive, with the former Villa man confident in possession and busy in pressing the Swansea midfield. both fullbacks, Moxey and Mariappa, also impressed against goalscorer Dyer and Wayne Routledge, an integral member of Palace’s last promotion campaign in 2004.

However, the injuries and suspensions are already taking their toll on the Palace squad. Dikgacoi, controversially sent off last weekend, would have provided a stronger presence alongside Jedinak in midfield. In particular, the defence looks thin. With Delaney hobbling off, and with existing injuries to Palace defenders Joel Ward, Jack Hunt, Paddy McCarthy and Jonathan Parr, there will be concern in the Eagles’ ranks as to whom will form the defence next weekend against Southampton.

Back to the drawing board then after the weakest performance of Palace’s season. Once again, simple passing manoeuvres and close pressing of the opposition may have produced a better result today, as would greater focus at the start of each half. Perhaps too much respect was given to Swansea’s slick passing game; more aggression from the Eagles may have disrupted the Welshmen’s game more and although it wouldn’t have been pretty, a point may have been dug out. With Southampton playing a similar style of football to Swansea, the Eagles have plenty to work on before next week’s encounter at St. Mary’s.

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney (Campana 45′), Moxey; Jedinak, Guedioura, Bannan (Thomas 67′); Puncheon, Jerome (Gayle 67′), Chamakh.

Swansea City: Vorm; Davies, Chico, Williams, Rangel; Canas (Britton 78′), Vazquez (De Guzman 61′), Shelvey; Dyer (Pozuelo 71′), Routledge, Michu.

Goalscorers: Swansea City: Michu 2′, Dyer 48′.

Attendance: 22,466

Referee: K. Friend

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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