The word outplayed springs to mind when looking back on Sunday’s defeat to Swansea. Not in possession terms, as Palace had enough of the ball, particularly in the first half, in which they could have created opportunities. But in the sense that Swansea did not seem to be playing at their highest level yet were still cutting their way through from defence to attack. And in the sense that their technical ability left Palace often chasing shadows.
This is in no way an attack on the Palace performance. Although nowhere near the sort of level they know they can be, there are times when you have to hold up your hands and say “fairplay”. This is one of those times. Had Palace’s performance been improved, it would undoubtedly have seen an increase in Swansea’s level.
On the way out of the ground, there were a number of supporters who could be heard talking along the lines that Swansea are a team in and around the relegation zone like Palace. Perhaps in some quarters expectations are getting a bit out of control, as Swansea are in a different class to Palace. That is not to say that one day Palace cannot consider themselves on level footing, just not yet. It is certainly the model to aspire to.
Sunday was a game that Palace would have hoped for a point at best, but it did not happen. In the Premier League there has to be a list drawn up of teams that you target to pick up points against and Swansea is one of the difficult ones.
When looked at in this way, the result is not as much of a disaster as some have made out. There are still a number of opportunities for the Eagles to realistically pick up points and these must be the focus.
Palace’s tactics of passing out from the back follows the Swansea model, but in certain positions there are key differences which mean it would be difficult against them. One obvious one was Michu. There were times when he dropped back into a defensive midfield position to pick up the ball and he did plenty of chasing down, something Palace lack.
In certain areas Palace were found wanting on Sunday which did not help, but this was always going to be a difficult game against a team, who had come off the back of a 3-0 win in Valencia, that has received vast praise and attention for the way they play football.
As the team looks to continue these tactics and will undoubtedly improve as they get used to them and playing with each other, Palace supporters can be hopeful of some good results. This Saturday would be a good start.
Daniel Smith - @dmsmith1987