Crystal Palace the better side for the first time this season
23 shots to 4 and 65% possession in Crystal Palace’s favour just about tells the story of the game this afternoon – aside from a lapse in concentration from Lee Chung-yong we were the better side. At times our play going forward was laboured and lacked precision but we kept the ball well, pressed well in parts and threw the limited resources we did have at Burnley in the last 20 minutes to try and salvage a draw from a game which we really deserved to win. Even Sean Dyche agreed.
As for Frank de Boer’s supposed blind spot when it came to 3 at the back, his adaptability was clear today. Some will argue it came too late but I disagree. He alluded to it in his interview with Sky Sports – if we had got some more new faces through the door then perhaps we could have given the new system a better stab. As it was our deadline day business, and window overall, fell short of what I am convinced de Boer was promised so the evolution which he had to put into practice at the start of the season was short of bodies. He prepared for a future which never materialised and in the first game since the window shut he has made it clear that our comfort zone is the place to be. For the time being.
Read more: De Boer must be judged on performances
Individual mistake proves our undoing once more
There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Lee Chung-yong’s name appeared in the starting lineup this afternoon. Unfortunately, he didn’t do his chances of ending his near-permanent hiatus from first team action when his skewed back pass found Chris Wood who bore down on an out of position and flapping Wayne Hennessey.
For all of the chances we had going forward, the result is just another sloppy mistake to add to the pile. Poor marking, lapses in concentration and poor decision making have littered our opening four games and for all the talk of systems, formations and “failed” managers Frank de Boer cannot legislate for those type of mistakes.
Read more: Eagles flatter to deceive on deadline day
Returning stars provide reason for optimism
We were better than Burnley today but ultimately lost the game. The absence of Wilfried Zaha cannot be overstated – in a team that is lacking in confidence and struggling to unlock the door of a tricky defence Zaha has proved himself the man with the key on many an occasion.
Crystal Palace also lacked physicality in the middle without both Milivojevic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the side. One moment this afternoon sticks in my mind and it was a trivial one in the grand scheme of things. Hennessey cleared down the middle and one header, virtually unopposed in midfield set Chris Wood clear in goal. Dann got back to clear on that occasion, but it just typified our lack of physicality in the middle.
The upside to all of this is that these players, along with Sakho, will soon be involved again. Increased competition at centre-half, Puncheon and McArthur dropping down to the bench to accommodate Loftus-Cheek and Milivojevic and a welcome return for Wilfried Zaha. That is one of the best starting lineups outside the top five or six, make no mistake and if de Boer can’t churn out results with that side then, and only then, is it time to examine his future.
Read more: Frank de Boer MUST stay at Selhurst Park