Crystal Palace's victory over Chelsea: The turning point of their season?
Many a pundit have predicted the demotion of Crystal Palace this season. While this looked inevitable prior to the October international break -- owing to Palace poor run of form which saw them with no goals and points -- there are clear indications that Palace could turn their season around, especially after a surprise victory over Premier League champions, Chelsea, last week, at Selhurst Park.
Palace went into the game as underdogs, despite Chelsea looking depleted with injuries to key men -- Kante and Morata -- but gave hope to the already frustrated home fans after an Azpilicueta deflected goal.
Chelsea pulled one back with Bakayoko's header, but Palace would eventually leave with all three points, as Zaha's strike heaped pressure on Conte.
Victories over teams in the first half of the table (by teams in the second) have always served as motivations for future tasks. It is against this backdrop that one would say that Palace look set to turn a poor start to a good run.
With certain players in top form, this will only be a reality than a wish, as manager Roy Hodgson has got the experience to twist the game to get results. Sakho's rejuvenation looks unending. And with Cabaye at the heart of the midfield, the team could be on the verge of finding a purple patch.
Speroni did a lot to prove his legendary status at Palace, shutting out efforts by Chelsea and intercepting crosses. Palace's talisman, Zaha, posed a greater threat to the Champions, beating defenders with his pace and dribbles at various times. It was not a surprise that his goal was the decider after 90 minutes.
Palace, in spite of their victory, still sit at the bottom of the table with 3 points, just above Bournemouth with 4 and Leicester with 6. They face Rafa Benitez's Newcastle in Matchday 9.
Newcastle currently sit 9th with 11 points, after 3 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses. Palace would bank on the extra motivation they have gathered after victory over Chelsea, as they seek to pull out of the relegation zone. Although Newcastle might appear stronger, Palace possess greater threats with Zaha, Townsend and Cabaye, all charged up.
This calls for caution from the rest of the teams, as Hodgson is not a neophyte in the league. Palace may not have the squad to challenge for a top-four finish, or a place in the Europa league, or maybe even the top-ten, but they certainly do possess what it takes to finish above 15th place.
Almost written off last season, Palace, under Big Sam, struggled to remain at the apex league in English football. This, along with their recent victory, offers greater belief in the possibility of a turnaround, not only among the players and staff, but also with the fans and a greater percentage of the admirers of the Palace boys.