Tag Archives: Crystal Palace

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers (August 1992)

Goalscorers: Mark Bright 37, Stuart Ripley 42, Gareth Southgate 63, Alan Shearer 66, 81, Simon Osborn 90

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Nigel Martyn, Chris Coleman (Simon Osborn 81), John Humphrey, Richard Shaw, Gareth Southgate, Andy Thorn, Eric Young, Eddie McGoldrick, John Salako (Simon Rodger 73), Geoff Thomas, Mark Bright

Blackburn Rovers: Bobby Mimms, Tony Dobson, Colin Hendry, David May, Kevin Moran, Alan Wright (Chris Price 28), Mark Atkins, Tim Sherwood, Stuart Ripley, Mike Newell, Alan Shearer

Referee: Roger Milford, Attendance: 17,086

On the very first day of FA Premier League football, there was plenty of attention on an expensively assembled Blackburn Rovers squad as they made the trip to south London to take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Blackburn were fielding the most expensive player in British football as 22-year old Alan Shearer made his club debut after his summer switch from Southampton. He wouldn’t disappoint and nor would the match itself on day one of the new era.

Played in bright, blazing sunshine, it did take both teams a while to get to grips with the humid conditions and only sporadic half-chances were created in the first 35 minutes. Eight minutes before the interval though, Crystal Palace took the lead. Young full-back Richard Shaw produced a great cross and Mark Bright was in the right place with a downward header to beat Bobby Mimms in the Blackburn goal. It was one of Bright’s final contributions in a Crystal Palace shirt. He would be sold to Sheffield Wednesday a few weeks later.

Newly-promoted Blackburn were level though just five minutes later. Shearer, who had experienced a quiet first half, provided a cross which drifted over the penalty box but was rescued by his new strike partner, Mike Newell. Newell’s cross was spot-on and an unmarked Stuart Ripley scored a rare header on his Rovers debut to level the score at half-time.

After a cagey first 45 minutes, the second half was more open and entertaining. Ripley, a summer arrival for £1.3 million from Middlesbrough, was a menace all afternoon and the winger nearly got his second of the game early in the second half, launching a shot just over the crossbar after one of his trademark runs from out wide. Steve Coppell’s Eagles, who had finished 10th in the last season of the old First Division also had their moments. John Salako produced a fierce drive which Mimms did well to tip over the crossbar. However, the Blackburn goalkeeper was culpable for Palace’s second goal. His weak punch out from a corner was returned in spectacular fashion by 21-year-old Gareth Southgate. His volley from the edge of the penalty area found the back of the net for his first goal in senior football.

Then, Shearer made his first major repayment on the transfer fee Blackburn had forked out for him. From a long punt up the park on 66 minutes, Newell’s flick-on found Shearer and he demonstrated his qualities with a dipping, swerving volley over the top of Nigel Martyn for a spectacular equaliser. Blackburn’s first top-flight match in 26 years was turning into a gripping contest and with nine minutes to go, Kenny Dalglish’s side went infront for the first time with another marvellous goal from Britain’s new record signing. Chasing a hopeful ball from Tony Dobson, Shearer cut inside from the left-hand side and hit another special shot that once again gave Martyn no chance of saving.

However, Crystal Palace kept battling on and in truth deserved a point as they played a major role in how the match unfolded. With virtually the last action in the contest, Eddie McGoldrick won a free-kick and substitutes Simon Rodger and Simon Osborn combined to earn the home side an equaliser. Rodger’s free-kick was guided into the net by Osborn’s late header. Roger Milford blew the full-time whistle virtually straight after the restart of play to highlight how late this goal was.

It was a season of contrasting fortunes for these teams. Blackburn coped well with the expectation and finished fourth but Crystal Palace were relegated on the final day and Coppell resigned shortly after the season concluded.

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Premier League Files: Wilfried Zaha

Premier League Career: Manchester United (2013), Cardiff City (2014), Crystal Palace (2014-PRESENT)

Wilfried Zaha is the key player at Crystal Palace. His ability is unquestionable and so is his talent. When Zaha plays well, Palace are a much better side. When he is injured or not in the side, the Eagles find it a major struggle without his presence. Now 26, many Premier League experts believe Zaha is one of the best players outside the top six teams. Recent form would suggest that too, although he has had a taste of the big time at Manchester United which didn’t work out for all parties.

Born in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Zaha moved to the London Borough of Croydon at the age of four and joined the Crystal Palace academy when he was just 12. Given his first-team debut at home to Cardiff City in March 2010, he signed a two-year professional contract with the club shortly afterwards.

He immediately made his impact on the Palace side and missed just two matches in the 2010-2011 season although one goal and two assists in all competitions suggested there was more to come from the gifted winger. In March 2012, he was voted the Football League’s Young Player of the Year and his real breakthrough came in the 2012-2013 season. Eight goals in 50 appearances in all competitions were a key component of a successful season for the south Londoners. It also won him international recognition from Roy Hodgson, who gave him his first of two England caps as a substitute against Sweden in November 2012.

Two months later, Zaha got his big money move to Manchester United. He would turn out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last-ever signing as Manchester United manager. United paid £10 million and immediately agreed to loan him back to Palace for the remainder of the campaign. He played a huge part in the Championship play-offs that season. Two goals in the semi-final against bitter rivals Brighton & Hove Albion took Crystal Palace to Wembley. In the final itself, he won the penalty for Kevin Phillips to score the only goal against Watford which guided Crystal Palace back to the Premier League.

Mission accomplished, Zaha was off for a shot in a big team but circumstances meant it wasn’t a period in his career he will want to remember. Ferguson had retired in May 2013 from first-team management and he was replaced by fellow Scot, David Moyes. He was rarely used by Moyes and didn’t make a Premier League appearance until coming off the bench in December 2013 when Manchester United were beaten 1-0 at home by Newcastle United.

Desperate to play, Zaha moved on-loan to Cardiff City in the January transfer window but failed to score in 12 appearances as Cardiff were relegated in their debut Premier League season. It was clear Zaha’s spell at Old Trafford had seen his confidence take a substantial knock. He later criticised Moyes for not being given a fair opportunity and also felt hurt about rumours online that he had been seeing Moyes’ daughter. He mentioned: “There were rumours about Moyes’ daughter from Twitter. It was weird. I was getting tortured for something I hadn’t done. I hadn’t even met her!”

Moyes was sacked in April after a dismal season but Zaha wouldn’t be staying under new manager Louis van Gaal. He was on his way back to his spiritual home of Crystal Palace, initially on-loan in August 2014 before the transfer became permanent in the 2015 January transfer window.

In his first match back, he scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a point for Crystal Palace in a 3-3 draw with Newcastle United – Neil Warnock’s first match of his second spell as Eagles boss. Zaha was back and the fans loved it. He scored four times as Palace finished 10th in the table, including a goal with virtually his first touch as a substitute in Steven Gerrard’s farewell Liverpool FC match at Anfield in May 2015. In 2015-2016, he won Crystal Palace Player of the Year at the club’s end of season awards dinner. He also scored twice in the club’s run to the FA Cup final and featured in 34 Premier League matches.

His international future was cleared up later in 2016 when in November – frustrated at not getting competitive opportunities for England, Zaha elected to switch allegiances and represent the country of his birth, Cote d’Ivoire at international level. Despite Gareth Southgate’s best efforts, Zaha stuck to his principles and made his debut for his new country at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, although it was disappointing for the team as they were eliminated in the group stages.

In 2016-2017, his levels and end product drastically improved. He scored seven times which was his best goalscoring return for any season. Among the highlights was an early goal in the 4-0 victory over Hull City that confirmed Crystal Palace’s Premier League status for another season and relegated Hull in the process.

One criticism of Zaha has been his tendency to complain about a lack of protection from officials and his tendency to go to ground easily in the penalty area. After not winning a spot-kick against Watford on Boxing Day 2016, Watford’s mascot decided to mimic a dive infront of him at full-time. It didn’t go down well with the Palace hierarchy. Recent data published has shown Zaha is the second most fouled player in the Premier League in the last three seasons – only behind Eden Hazard in this statistic.

After injury saw a delayed start to 2017-2018, Zaha’s return to first-team action was well-timed. Hodgson was now Crystal Palace manager and determined to make Zaha the focal point of his team after missing out on using him more regularly at international level with England. In his first game back, he scored the winning goal against reigning champions Chelsea – the club’s first goals and win of the season.

In April 2018, he scored four times in the month and was given the Premier League Player of the Month award, including two goals – one was a rare header in a crucial 3-2 success over Brighton. He was voted as the club’s Player of the Year again for a third successive season, matching a feat only previously achieved by Julian Speroni.

2018-2019 began with a goal on the opening day at Fulham in a 2-0 win and in a 2-1 loss at Watford a fortnight later, Zaha scored his 24th Premier League goal for the club, which saw him overtake Chris Armstrong as the club’s most successful top-flight goalscorer. His recent form has seen him score crucial goals against both Leicester City and Burnley in priceless away victories that mean the club is looking at another mid-table finish this season.

The Managers: Steve Coppell

Premier League Clubs Managed: Crystal Palace (1992-1993), (1997-1998), Reading (2006-2008)

As a player, Steve Coppell was a flying right winger who won domestic honours with Manchester United and represented England at the World Cup finals in 1982. His work-rate levels have served him well in management, having four separate spells in a variety of different roles at Crystal Palace and also guiding Reading to the top-flight in 2006, followed by an impressive eighth place finish in their debut Premier League campaign.

Coppell played a huge role too in the career of Ian Wright. He signed Wright from the depths of non-league football and turned him into an international footballer and one of the leading strikers in English and Arsenal history. He continues to manage today, currently with Atletico de Kolkata in the Indian Super League.

A promising career cut short

In the mid-1970s, Steve Coppell was multi-tasking to the extreme. He was studying for a degree at University, coached a University team and played part-time for Tranmere Rovers. His life changed forever when Manchester United offered Tranmere £60,000 for his services, offering to double his wages too. Unsurprisingly, Coppell signed on with the Red Devils.

Manchester United allowed him to complete his degree in his spare time whilst he made his professional debut for the club. He made his debut in March 1975 as a substitute in a 4-0 victory over Cardiff City. He made 10 appearances before the season’s end and also broke his goalscoring duck as United bounced back to the First Division at the first attempt of asking.

The following season, he won honours for the England Under-23 team and made a big mark on the Manchester United first-team, scoring 10 times in 39 games. One of those goals came at his boyhood club, Liverpool FC at the famous The Kop terrace. It was an exciting Manchester United side that manager Tommy Docherty was putting together and Coppell experienced cup glory in 1977 when the Red Devils beat Liverpool 2-1 in the Wembley showpiece. He did end up as a loser though in both the 1976 and 1979 finals despite claiming two assists in the latter match against Arsenal.

He made his senior international debut with England in 1977, playing in their final qualifying game for the 1978 World Cup finals. They beat Italy 2-0 but the damage had been done earlier in the campaign, so the Three Lions missed out on the finals in Argentina. Coppell would win over 40 caps, scoring seven times and he featured in Ron Greenwood’s teams on a regular basis including at the 1980 European Championships.

His career took a major change in 1981. He was the victim of a vicious tackle from Hungarian player Jozsef Toth during a World Cup qualifier whilst on England duty. He sustained bad knee damage and needed two operations. He was never quite the same player again. Coppell did struggle on through the 1982 World Cup finals and the 1982-1983 season but further setbacks and operations followed. In October 1983, he announced his retirement from playing, aged just 28. He had broken the record for the most consecutive appearances for an outfield Manchester United player making 207 from 1977 to 1981. It is a record which still stands to this day.

Making his mark at Palace

Less than a year after his retirement from playing, Coppell became one of the youngest men to ever manage a club in the Football League. He was 28 years and 10 months old when he was appointed Crystal Palace manager. He would remain in the post with the Eagles for the next nine years.

He had to rely on signing players who had been rejected by other First Division sides and took the opportunity to give a young Ian Wright his chance, signing him from the non-league. When he took over, Palace were in the Second Division and it took until 1989 before the Eagles were promoted to the top-flight via the play-offs. In 1990, they went on a wonderful journey in the FA Cup, knocking out champions-elect Liverpool FC 4-3 in an epic semi-final at Villa Park. They met Manchester United in the final, still looking for their first major piece of silverware under Alex Ferguson. Wright sparkled, scoring twice and the first game finished 3-3. United won a scrappier replay 1-0 to take the prize.

In 1991, they finished in third place in the top-flight, only below Arsenal and Liverpool FC. However, they had to sell their main striking assets. Wright eventually moved to Arsenal and his long-time strike partner, Mark Bright went to Sheffield Wednesday just a few weeks after the start of the Premier League. Crystal Palace were relegated on the final day after losing 3-0 at Highbury, whilst Oldham Athletic’s 4-3 success over Southampton saw them complete a late escape from the drop at the expense of the Eagles. Coppell resigned from his position as manager shortly after their relegation.

The 33-day experience in Manchester

When Graham Taylor stepped down as England manager following their failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals, Coppell’s name was linked with the job but he swiftly ruled himself out of the running. Another job where his name was strongly mentioned was Middlesbrough following Lennie Lawrence’s departure in May 1994. Ex-Manchester United captain and Coppell’s former teammate Bryan Robson was ultimately chosen as Lawrence’s successor.

In fact, Steve remained out of the game until June 1995 when he returned to Palace in a Director of Football capacity. It was a role he held until October 1996 when the lure of managing Manchester City was simply too much to resist. Coppell was appointed with the club struggling to make an impact in the First Division. It looked like it would be a great moment for him but it turned into a nightmare. His reign lasted just six games and 33 days.

He gave a press conference where his facial expression and tone of voice was completely different to how he had been when he took the job on. He admitted:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have suffered for some time from huge pressure I have imposed upon myself, and since my appointment this has completely overwhelmed me to such an extent that I cannot function in the job the way I would like to. As this situation is affecting my well-being, I have asked Francis Lee to relieve me of my obligation to manage the club on medical advice.”

His reign at the club is the shortest of any City manager to date.

So, he went back to Crystal Palace in another different role, this time as Chief Scout. Before the end of the campaign, he was back in the managerial hotseat after Dave Bassett left in February 1997 to take a role with Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest. He secured promotion back to the Premier League with the south Londoners after David Hopkin’s dramatic late winner in the First Division play-off final against Sheffield United.

He stayed in the role going into the Premier League but stepped down in March 1998 as Crystal Palace supporter Mark Goldberg led a takeover of the club. The club were relegated at the end of the season. Goldberg though wanted to keep Coppell on and so, he reverted to a Director of Football position with Terry Venables appointed first-team manager on their return to Division One.

In January 1999, he was back as manager yet again after Venables’ resignation. By this point, the club had severe financial issues and high-earners had to be sold to cut spending such as Attilio Lombardo. They finished 14th in 1998-1999 and 15th in 1999-2000. Simon Jordan bought the club in the summer of 2000 from Goldberg and replaced Coppell with Alan Smith. That bought Coppell’s association with the club to an end. For both parties, it had been a loyal collaboration but both needed to go their different ways.

Record-breaking Reading

After spells managing Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion, Coppell’s next major project came at Reading in October 2003, succeeding Alan Pardew who had moved on to fill the West Ham United vacancy. After finishing seventh in his first full season as Royals manager, Coppell guided Reading to the Championship title in 2005-2006, setting a new league record of 33 league games unbeaten during the campaign. The Berkshire club finished with 106 points which was another record smashed and could look forward to Premier League football for the first time.

Reading impressed many neutrals with their style of play and results achieved in 2006-2007, finishing their first Premier League season in an impressive eighth position and just one point away from qualifying for European competition. He received praise from Sir Alex Ferguson, who said after Coppell won Manager of the Year: “I think it’s totally deserved. It’s a marvellous contribution he’s made. What’s encouraging for the Premier League is that it’s mostly British-based players in his side, with some Irish players thrown in. I think that says a lot for the way he has gathered his team together.”

Reading’s second season was not as good as their first and it ended in relegation back to the Championship. Coppell said he would consider his future as Reading manager after being relegated on the final day but he stayed on in an attempt to get the Royals back up at the first attempt. However, he missed out on promotion in 2008-2009 via the play-offs after a semi-final defeat to Burnley and this time, he elected to resign immediately after the game, feeling he had taken the club as far as he could.

One more challenge cropped up in England in May 2010 when he signed a 12-month rolling contract at Bristol City. However, he walked away from the position just three months later, saying that he would retire from football management altogether citing a lack of passion for the job.

He hasn’t retired from football management as mentioned but the job at Ashton Gate was his last in English management. He has since worked as Director of Football at both Crawley Town and Portsmouth before moving to Asia where he has managed Kerala Blasters FC, Jamshedpur FC and ATK where he was appointed manager in June 2018.

Steve Coppell has managed over 1000 matches in his career and boasts nearly a 40% win ratio rate. That’s a pretty decent return for someone who has spent nearly 35 years in the management game.

Premier League Rewind: 15th May 2005

Results: Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton, Charlton Athletic 2-2 Crystal Palace, Fulham 6-0 Norwich City, Liverpool FC 2-1 Aston Villa, Manchester City 1-1 Middlesbrough, Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-2 Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Portsmouth

The centre of attention on the final day of the 2004-2005 Premier League season was at the bottom of the table. For the first time in the competition’s history, all three relegation spots were up for grabs and by full-time, only one set of supporters from Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion would be celebrating survival.

The team in the driving seat were Norwich. They were outside the bottom three and a first away victory of the season at Craven Cottage against a Fulham side with little to play for would secure their top-flight status and relegate the other three sides irrespective of their results. However, as soon as Brian McBride had the Cottagers infront after just 10 minutes, it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the Canaries supporters. Any hope of beating the drop was virtually extinguished by Papa Bouba Diop’s cracking free-kick and it turned into a mauling for Nigel Worthington’s side. Andy Cole came off the bench to round the scoring off in stoppage-time. Fulham won 6-0 and Norwich were relegated.

The Canaries’ miserable afternoon in west London meant there was an opportunity for the other three teams then to escape the drop. Southampton had the trickiest fixture even though they were at home on the last day to FA Cup finalists Manchester United. They made a brilliant start, with an own goal off John O’Shea giving the Saints a lead at virtually the same time as Norwich were going a goal down at Fulham. A Darren Fletcher header did little to change the outcomes and at half-time, the point was enough for Harry Redknapp to protect his record of not experiencing Premier League relegation on his CV. Ruud van Nistelrooy had other ideas. The Dutchman had experienced a difficult campaign plagued by injuries by his 62nd minute header – his sixth league goal of the season put the Red Devils infront and they held on for a 2-1 victory to end Southampton’s 27-year stay in England’s top-flight.

So, Norwich and Southampton were both down, which meant it was a straight shootout between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion for survival. Palace travelled to a Charlton Athletic side without a win in their last eight games but they trailed at half-time to Bryan Hughes’ first half effort. Iain Dowie then brought Dougie Freedman off the bench and soon after his arrival; he put the Eagles level with a cute chip over the advancing Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely. Then, Mark Clattenburg pointed to the penalty spot when Jonathan Fortune handled the ball in his own penalty area. Andy Johnson’s 21st goal of the season meant Dowie’s side were now just 19 minutes from safety. However, with eight minutes remaining, Fortune made amends with a towering header from a free-kick to level the scores at 2-2. That is how it ended but would it be enough for Palace to avoid a fourth Premier League relegation?

It wouldn’t be the case if West Bromwich Albion beat Portsmouth at The Hawthorns. The Baggies were bottom going into the final day and only a win would be enough to give them a chance of achieving survival. Just a minute after his arrival into the match as a second half substitute, Geoff Horsfield drilled the Baggies into the lead and on-loan midfielder Kieran Richardson settled the contest with 15 minutes remaining. When he scored, Palace were winning so the three points weren’t enough but Fortune’s equaliser at The Valley sent The Hawthorns into a carnival atmosphere. No team in Premier League history had ever done what West Brom had just done. They were bottom on Christmas Day but had achieved survival on this, the ultimate Survival Sunday.’

Away from the drama at the bottom of the table and the other dramatic issue was who would take seventh place and the final UEFA Cup position in the table. Middlesbrough held the advantage and were playing chief rivals Manchester City at Eastlands. The scoreline was 1-1 when City had a late penalty. If Robbie Fowler had converted it, the Citizens would have claimed seventh position but his spot-kick was saved by Mark Schwarzer so Boro held on for the point that secured the last European qualification spot.

What else happened in May 2005?

  • Labour and Tony Blair win their third successive General Election but only a majority of 66 seats – a great reduction on their recent margin of victory in 2001.
  • After the election, Conservative party leader Michael Howard announced his intention to step down.
  • Liverpool FC win their fifth European Cup in sensational fashion, beating AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul after coming back from 3-0 down at half-time to draw 3-3.
  • The Eurovision Song Contest is won by Greece’s Helena Paparizou with her song “My Number One.”
  • 27-year-old transport manager Tim Campbell wins the first series of The Apprentice, winning a £100,000 job with Lord Alan Sugar’s firm, Amstrad.
  • American businessman Malcolm Glazer gains control of Manchester United after securing a 70% share. The takeover angers many United supporters.
  • BBC Weather relaunches, changing to 3D graphics.

 

Great Goals: Andros Townsend – West Bromwich Albion vs. CRYSTAL PALACE (March 2017)

Crystal Palace were in desperate need for points when they travelled to The Hawthorns in March 2017 to face West Bromwich Albion. They were 1-0 ahead with five minutes to go when Andros Townsend produced a natural piece of solo skill.

Jonathan Leko of West Brom lost possession to Townsend just outside his own area and he began a mazy run up the park. He then took on Leko, shaking him off as he fell to ground in a vain attempt to get a foul. This put the visitors on a 2-on-2 situation. Christian Benteke made a run to drag Jonny Evans out of the firing line and this left Townsend in a one-on-one with Gareth McAuley. He beat the central defender before driving his shot beyond Ben Foster at the near post.

It was a wonderful goal and won the Premier League Goal of the Month award for March 2017. Palace won the game 2-0 and began a decent run of form that ensured they maintained their Premier League status by the end of the campaign.

The Managers: Roy Hodgson

Premier League Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers (1997-1998), Fulham (2008-2010), Liverpool FC (2010-2011), West Bromwich Albion (2011-2012), Crystal Palace (2017-PRESENT)

Few in the management game have a CV that is as globalised as Roy Hodgson. He has managed 16 different teams in eight countries in a management career that has spanned over 40 years. It began in Sweden with Halmstads BK in 1976 and continues today as manager of Crystal Palace. Hodgson has also managed the Switzerland, Finland and England international teams, as well as the likes of Malmö FF, Inter Milan, Fulham, Udinese and Liverpool FC.

The Swedish connection

Roy Hodgson’s playing career wasn’t one filled with much success. He was in the youth setup at Crystal Palace but never quite broke through into the first-team. He spent time in the non-league with the likes of Tonbridge, Maidstone United and Gravesend & Northfleet. However, he was already into coaching and he started his managerial career in Sweden with Halmstads BK in the top-flight. His success there is considered as one of the biggest surprises in the history of Swedish football. When he took over, Halmstads were a team fighting against relegation on a regular basis but in his five seasons with them, he guided them to league championships in 1976 and 1979.

After an unhappy time in England with Bristol City which included a brief four-month spell as caretaker manager, he returned to Sweden in 1982, managing lower-league sides Oddevold and Örebro. In 1985, he took over at one of the biggest teams in the country and enjoyed his best win ratio rate of his career at Malmö. He led the team to five consecutive league championships and two Swedish Cups.

On the continental stage, the club’s biggest achievement was knocking out Italian champions Inter Milan in the first round of the 1989-1990 European Cup season, helped by drawing 1-1 at The San Siro. Malmö crashed out in the next round to Mechelen of Belgium. Due to his successful time with the club, he is still greatly appreciated by the supporters who have unofficially named a section of the stadium “Roy’s Hörna.”

Swiss factor

In July 1990, Roy moved to another country to manage, starting a five-year association with Switzerland. First up was unheralded club side Neuchatel Xamax, guiding them to third and fifth place finishes in his two seasons managing in the top-flight. In January 1992, Hodgson took over as manager of the national team, replacing Uli Stielike, who replaced Hodgson in the vacancy created by his departure from Neuchatel Xamax.

Switzerland had been absent from major international competition for nearly 30 years but under him, they qualified for the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, coming ahead of Portugal and Scotland in a tricky qualification section. He also took the Swiss to their highest-ever position in the FIFA World Rankings of third.

With no home nation involvement, Roy was one of the few Englishman at the 1994 World Cup and his team were drawn into Group A, together with the hosts, Romania and highly-fancied Colombia. The opening match against the United States was the first World Cup game to be played indoors at The Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. They drew that game 1-1 and finished runners-up in the group after an impressive 4-1 victory over Romania. Elimination followed in the round-of-16, losing 3-0 to Spain.

Under Hodgson’s tenure, they easily qualified for the 1996 European Championships, losing just once in 10 qualifying matches. However, Hodgson left after qualification was assured as he had already accepted a position as manager of Italian giants, Inter Milan. At Inter, he guided them away from relegation danger on his arrival to seventh place in 1995-1996 and third in 1996-1997. He managed the likes of Youri Djorkaeff, Paul Ince and Javier Zanetti on a run to the UEFA Cup final, where they played FC Schalke 04 in the final. It was the last year where the final was played over two legs and after two 1-0 home victories, the final went to penalties. Schalke triumphed and Inter fans were furious, pelting Hodgson with coins and lighters afterwards. It was his last match in-charge of the Italians and he returned to England for his first crack in the Premier League.

Blackburn downfall

Blackburn Rovers had won the Premier League title in 1995 but had slipped to 13th just two seasons later and Jack Walker had persuaded Hodgson to come to England and attempt to steer the Lancastrians back in the right direction. Things started well. Blackburn were second on Christmas Day 1997 and he won two Manager of the Month Awards in the process. In Chris Sutton, he had a player who knew where the back of the net was and his 18 goals meant he shared the Golden Boot with Dion Dublin and Michael Owen. Blackburn eventually finished in sixth place and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

His second season was unsuccessful. Numerous injuries, talk of unrest in the dressing room and the failure to find a suitable replacement for Scottish defender Colin Hendry, who had joined Rangers in the summer combined to a season of struggle. After a 2-0 home defeat to Southampton in November 1998, Blackburn dropped to the foot of the table. Moments after the game, Walker sacked Hodgson after Roy had refused the opportunity to resign. He later admitted: “To Blackburn’s honour, Jack Walker wanted me to resign; he wanted to still pay for the rest of my contract. I refused to do that, arrogant of course as I was in those days. I thought if they stuck with me I’d save them from relegation. I gave him no choice but to sack me.”

After Blackburn, he returned to Inter Milan as technical director before returning to Switzerland to coach Grasshoppers Zurich for a season. In October 2000, Kevin Keegan resigned as England manager and Hodgson was shortlisted for the job. However, he was ruled out of the running when he agreed to take over in Denmark at FC Copenhagen. In his one season with them, he guided them to their first Danish championship since 1993 and they won the Danish Supercup too. He left them in the summer of 2001 to take up a post with Udinese which lasted less than six months with the club only ninth in the table. He has admitted it was a mistake to leave Copenhagen for Udinese.

After spells managing the United Arab Emirates international team and Viking FK in Norway, he became the national coach of Finland in January 2006. Finland had never qualified for a major tournament and narrowly failed to qualify for EURO 2008, finishing fourth in their group with 24 points and only missing out on automatic qualification by just three points.

Then, it was back to English football in a slightly surprise appointment in west London.

Saving Fulham

In late December 2007, Hodgson accepted the post of manager of Fulham who were sitting 18th in the Premier League table and had mustered just two wins in the entire campaign. His first game in-charge ended in defeat to Chelsea and he immediately looked at strengthening the squad, with Brede Hangeland being one of his key signings. The pair had worked together at Viking FK. Initially, results did not improve. Fulham were dismissed out of the FA Cup on penalties by League One outfit Bristol Rovers and in his first 13 league matches, the Cottagers amassed a meagre nine points.

At half-time against Manchester City in April 2008, Fulham were 2-0 down and seemingly destined for relegation to the Championship but some galvanising words at half-time saw a stirring second half fightback. A late goal from Diomansy Kamara helped Fulham to a 3-2 victory and spearheaded a dramatic recovery. Wins over Birmingham City and Portsmouth in the final two games saw Hodgson’s side achieve unlikely survival at the expense of Reading and Birmingham.

In the summer of 2008, the experienced Mark Schwarzer arrived on a free transfer from Middlesbrough and Hodgson also completed a permanent move for Danny Murphy, signed teenage defender Chris Smalling and strikers Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson. He guided Fulham to a fantastic seventh place in the table which remains the club’s highest-ever finish in the top-flight and ensuring qualification for the new UEFA Europa League.

In 2009-2010, Fulham’s Premier League form was inconsistent throughout the campaign but Roy still enjoyed notable victories over Liverpool FC, Everton and Manchester United, collected two Manager of the Month Awards and a solid 12th place finish, just four points behind Birmingham City in ninth. The main attention of Fulham’s campaign was saved for their historic run in the UEFA Europa League. The Cottagers eliminated holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian superpowers Juventus, German champions VfL Wolfsburg and former European Cup winners Hamburger SV in the knockout rounds. The win over Hamburg took Fulham to a major European final for the first time in their 130-year history. They would visit Hamburg’s ground for the showpiece event against Atletico Madrid. The final went to extra time at 1-1 before Diego Forlan scored the winning goal for the Spaniards. It had been an epic run which ended in cruel disappointment.

After winning the LMA Manager of the Year by a record margin, Hodgson left Fulham in the summer of 2010 to take over the vacancy at Liverpool FC following the departure of Rafa Benitez.

Anfield villain turns Baggies hero

When Hodgson turned up at Anfield, it came against the backdrop of an unstable period. The club’s owners had put the Merseysiders up for sale and the takeover went through in mid-October during his reign. Also, news broke that club legend Kenny Dalglish had applied for the vacancy and been turned down. As soon as the faithful found this out, Hodgson was never going to win the supporters over.

Poor results didn’t help matters. Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties at Anfield by League Two strugglers Northampton Town and a 2-1 home defeat by Blackpool in early October saw the club drop into the bottom three of the top-flight for the first time since September 1964. He admitted afterwards that Liverpool were potentially facing a relegation battle.

There was a 2-0 victory over league champions Chelsea and progress into the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League but more alarming displays and defeats to Stoke City, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers left him on borrowed time. After a 3-1 reverse at former club Blackburn in early January, his ill-fated spell was brought to an end by John W. Henry. He won just seven out of his 20 Premier League matches and left with the club in 12th and just four points above the drop zone.

A month later, he was appointed as West Bromwich Albion boss, replacing Roberto Di Matteo. West Brom had the worst defensive record in the league, lost 13 of their previous 18 outings and were only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. He immediately tightened up the backline and five wins and five draws took the Baggies clear of any danger, finishing in a creditable 11th position.

He went one position better in 2011-2012 with some impressive away performances which included a 1-0 victory at Anfield and a 5-1 thrashing of Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers. Now, his national side was calling him. England needed a manager ahead of EURO 2012 and Roy answered the emergency call.

The England experience

After Fabio Capello had resigned as England manager in February 2012, it was widely anticipated that Harry Redknapp would take the job but FA chairman David Bernstein insisted only Hodgson had been approached for the position. He agreed a four-year contract.

England were just a month away from competing at the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, so expectations were low going into the tournament. However, they won their group with two wins from three matches before bowing out to Italy via a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

The Three Lions then produced an unbeaten qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup finals and Hodgson was praised for giving several youngsters and newcomers a chance in the international setup. The likes of Andros Townsend, Adam Lallana, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Rodriguez all won their maiden caps during his tenure in the international post. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was a major disappointment. Defeats to Italy and Uruguay saw England eliminated before the first week of the competition was complete. A dire goalless draw with Costa Rica ensured England finished bottom of Group D. Whilst the group was one of the toughest, a total of one point was not good enough for all concerned within the England setup.

Worse was to come at the 2016 European Championships. England went into the tournament considered as one of the favourites to go into the latter stages, especially after a stirring friendly victory in Berlin over Germany a few months before the competition got underway in France. However, it never seemed like he knew his best line-up, his best tactical system and he stayed far too loyal to underperforming players. Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling were among those to have a terrible individual tournament. Having been beaten to top spot in the group by Wales, England put in a diabolical performance in the round-of-16 match against Iceland. England led but lost the lead through poor tactics at a throw-in and a goalkeeping error. Iceland won the game 2-1 to provide Hodgson with his biggest humiliation in his career. He promptly resigned shortly after the full-time whistle.

Revival at Palace

After a year on the sidelines to reflect on the Iceland defeat, Hodgson came back from what appeared to be the managerial scrapheap to take charge of his boyhood club, Crystal Palace. Palace were in big trouble, having lost their first four matches without scoring a goal and had sacked Frank de Boer. Although he lost his first three matches by a margin of 10-0, a surprising 2-1 victory over league champions Chelsea in October 2017 started a revival in form.

No team had previously survived relegation from the top-flight after losing their first seven games but a revitalised Palace achieved this feat fairly comfortably. Leicester City were beaten 5-0 for the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory and they eventually finished 11th, just one place below their best Premier League finish of 10th, achieved during Alan Pardew’s tenure in 2014-2015.

It looks like the Eagles will be involved again in a relegation battle in 2018-2019 but recent home victories over Burnley and Leicester City suggest the club are finding their best form at Selhurst Park again and with Hodgson’s experience in the game, they will always feel confident of achieving the minimum target every season which is survival and plenty more top-flight football to come in south-east London.

Premier League Files: John Salako

Premier League Career: Crystal Palace (1992-1993, 1994-1995), Coventry City (1995-1997), Bolton Wanderers (1998), Charlton Athletic (2000-2001)

Born in Nigeria, John Salako’s first club and most prominent period of his career came at Crystal Palace. He gave a decade of service to the Eagles, experienced the utmost highs during this time of winning five England caps from Graham Taylor in 1991 and two crushing Premier League relegations in 1993 and 1995.

Salako’s game was all about pace and plenty of it. Defenders were often scared to face him with this trait. His imagination meant he had a good pass and decent dribbling skills too. He often linked up well with Chris Armstrong and his best Premier League season was arguably one that saw Palace relegated. In 1994-1995, Salako missed only three games and scored four goals. This included a fantastic double away at Highbury in October 1994 as Alan Smith’s side won 2-1. It was a pleasurable moment for Salako. A knee injury meant he had missed a huge portion of the club’s maiden Premier League season when they went down on the final day with defeat at Arsenal’s ground.

Pre-Premier League, John was part of the Palace squad that reached the FA Cup final in 1990. He started both games but ended up with a loser’s medal after the club were narrowly beaten in the replay by Manchester United.

After Crystal Palace’s second Premier League relegation, Salako moved on in the summer of 1995 to Coventry City. He was a regular in their team, making 72 appearances before a brief loan spell at Bolton Wanderers during the second half of the 1997-1998 season. After an unhappy 10 games with Fulham, Salako returned to the Premier League with Charlton Athletic in 2000. His last Premier League appearance came as a 10-minute substitute against Fulham in September 2001. He moved soon afterwards to Reading before ending his career with Brentford in 2004-2005.

Since retirement, Salako has done some television work for Sky Sports and returned to Crystal Palace as a first-team coach between August 2015 and December 2016 as part of Alan Pardew’s coaching staff. Since March 2017, Salako has been working as a Marketing Director for SME Business Finance.

The Clubs: Crystal Palace

All statistics correct upto 9th January 2019

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
368 103 93 175 393 537 -144 402 10

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Joel Ward 162
Jason Puncheon 153
Wilfried Zaha 147
James McArthur 143
Damien Delaney 130
Scott Dann 123
Wayne Hennessey 105
Yohan Cabaye 96
Andros Townsend 93
Martin Kelly 92

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Wilfried Zaha 25
Chris Armstrong 23
Andy Johnson 21
Christian Benteke 18
Luka Milivojevic 18
James McArthur 16
Dwight Gayle 15
Jason Puncheon 15
Scott Dann 12
Yannick Bolasie 9

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester City 28th April 2018 2017-2018
Crystal Palace 5-1 Newcastle United 28th November 2015 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 4-0 Hull City 14th May 2017 2016-2017
Crystal Palace 4-1 Middlesbrough 12th April 1993 1992-1993
Coventry City 1-4 Crystal Palace 2nd November 1994 1994-1995
Sunderland 1-4 Crystal Palace 11th April 2015 2014-2015
Crystal Palace 4-1 Stoke City 18th September 2016 2016-2017
Crystal Palace 3-0 Ipswich Town 5th November 1994 1994-1995
Crystal Palace 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur 22nd January 2005 2004-2005
Cardiff City 0-3 Crystal Palace 5th April 2014 2013-2014

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Crystal Palace 1-6 Liverpool FC 20th August 1994 1994-1995
Liverpool FC 5-0 Crystal Palace 28th November 1992 1992-1993
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace 6th May 2017 2016-2017
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace 23rd September 2017 2017-2018
Chelsea 6-2 Crystal Palace 11th March 1998 1997-1998
Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005 2004-2005
Wimbledon 4-0 Crystal Palace 9th April 1993 1992-1993
Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 10th April 2005 2004-2005
Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace 16th January 2016 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland 4th February 2017 2016-2017

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Steve Coppell 1 17th May 1993
Alan Smith 1 15th May 1995
Steve Coppell 1 13th March 1998
Iain Dowie 1 22nd May 2006
Ian Holloway 1 23rd October 2013
Tony Pulis 1 14th August 2014
Neil Warnock 1 27th December 2014
Alan Pardew 3 22nd December 2016
Sam Allardyce 1 23rd May 2017
Frank de Boer 1 11th September 2017
Roy Hodgson 2  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United 21st April 1993 30,115 1992-1993
Crystal Palace 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur 23rd January 2016 28,467 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal 6th November 2004 26,193 2004-2005
Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea 13th September 1997 26,186 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 0-0 Arsenal 18th October 1997 26,180 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 0-3 Manchester United 27th April 1998 26,180 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur 28th March 1998 26,116 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 1-2 Newcastle United 29th November 1997 26,085 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 2-2 Southampton 7th May 2005 26,066 2004-2005
Crystal Palace 1-0 Liverpool FC 23rd April 2005 26,043 2004-2005

 

Intro

Crystal Palace’s first four Premier League campaigns ended with the same outcome in all of them – relegation from the top-flight. The Eagles have become a sterner and secure outfit since their latest promotion in 2013, although they are often a feature in the survival battle in most seasons. Their best campaign was a 10th place finish under Alan Pardew’s stewardship in 2014-2015 although Roy Hodgson’s achievement to keep them up last season from a position of no goals and no points after seven matches has to be considered extremely highly.

 

1992-1993

Founder members of the Premier League, Crystal Palace struggled to score goals throughout the season after selling Mark Bright in August to Sheffield Wednesday. Palace made a desperate start, winning just once (2-0 away at Everton) in their first 17 matches. However, a run of seven wins in their next 11 games took them closer to mid-table. However, although there were impressive home victories over relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Ipswich Town, the Eagles were relegated on the final day after a 3-0 defeat at Highbury against Arsenal, whilst Oldham beat Southampton 4-3. Steve Coppell resigned after relegation and was replaced by his assistant, Alan Smith.

 

1994-1995

After winning the First Division, Crystal Palace made an immediate return to the top-flight but made a nightmare start, as they were thrashed 6-1 at home by Liverpool FC on the opening day. Alan Smith signed Ray Wilkins to add experience to his midfield but he played just once for the club and left in November to take a managerial role at former club Queens Park Rangers. The Eagles made the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions but scored just 34 times in 42 league matches which was the lowest tally in the Premier League. Despite the best efforts of Chris Armstrong, Chris Coleman and Gareth Southgate, Palace were relegated on the final day again – this time after failing to beat Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

 

1997-1998

Hopes were high for Crystal Palace’s third Premier League season after the exciting acquisition in pre-season of Italian Attilio Lombardo from Juventus. Lombardo’s experience saw the club become one of the best away sides in the division, spearheading them to outstanding victories away at Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham Hotspur. In late November, they were 10th in the table. However, they didn’t win any of their next 16 matches and slipped back into relegation trouble. Not helped by constant rumours of a takeover by computer tycoon Mark Goldberg and a desperate home record with just two victories all term at Selhurst Park, the club were relegated again from the top-flight on 27th April after a 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United.

 

2004-2005

It was more final day heartache for the Eagles supporters in 2004-2005 as a 2-2 draw away at Charlton Athletic wasn’t enough to keep them in the top-flight because of West Brom’s home victory over Portsmouth. Iain Dowie’s side won just seven league games but did record notable home victories over Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur, whilst Andy Johnson scored 21 goals as he finished runner-up to Thierry Henry in the race for the Golden Boot.

 

2013-2014

After an eight-year absence, Crystal Palace returned to the Premier League but made a terrible start, losing seven of their first eight matches. Following a 4-1 home loss by Fulham in October, Ian Holloway resigned and was replaced by Tony Pulis. Pulis immediately made the team harder to beat and the Eagles climbed away comfortably from danger to avoid relegation for the first time in their Premier League history. This included a five-match winning run in April as they finished a brilliant 11th.

 

2014-2015

Pre-season plans were thrown in total disarray when after disagreements over the direction of the club with owner Steve Parish, Tony Pulis abruptly resigned just two days before the campaign was due to start. Neil Warnock returned to the club as his successor but just three wins from 18 matches saw the Eagles in the bottom three at Christmas. After a 3-1 defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day, Warnock was the first managerial casualty of the campaign. Parish then pursued and successfully tempted Alan Pardew away from Newcastle United to return to his former club. Pardew galvanised the Eagles to a 10th place finish as they ended as one of the form teams in the second half of the campaign which included a 2-1 home win over champions Manchester City in April.

 

2015-2016

The excellent end to 2014-2015 continued in the first half of the 2015-2016 campaign. The likes of Yohan Cabaye arrived and Wilfried Zaha by now had returned on a permanent basis to his first club. Palace were sixth on New Years’ Day and only a few points off the top four positions. They also became only the second club to defeat Jose Mourinho at home in the Premier League when the Eagles won 2-1 early season at Stamford Bridge. However, a 3-0 reverse to the faltering champions in January started a nightmare run of form that dragged them into relegation danger.

Late season victories over Norwich City and Stoke City kept them safe but a 15th place finish was a major disappointment for everyone connected with the club. The saving grace was a run to the FA Cup final but despite taking the lead against Manchester United, they lost the showpiece event 2-1 after extra time.

 

2016-2017

Alan Pardew was a man under pressure going into 2016-2017 and despite breaking the club’s transfer record to sign Christian Benteke from Liverpool FC, he couldn’t revitalise the Eagles. Just four wins from 17 games and he was sacked just before Christmas and replaced by Sam Allardyce, who was available after his short reign as England boss. Allardyce did the job required, got Benteke scoring, tightened the backline up and wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool FC in the last couple of months kept them once again in the Premier League. They finished 14th but Allardyce quit at the end of the season.

 

2017-2018

It was Frank de Boer who succeeded Allardyce but a lack of summer investment and no wins from their opening four matches saw him sacked in mid-September after just 10 weeks in the post. Roy Hodgson returned to his boyhood club but started with three successive defeats. After seven games, the club had no goals, no wins and no points but a 2-1 victory over champions Chelsea was the galvanising lift everyone needed. Crystal Palace remained in relegation trouble for much of the season but always looked like they would have enough in the playing squad, helped by Zaha’s best-ever season in the Premier League and 10 goals from midfielder Luka Milivojevic. In the end, they finished 11th and a 5-0 win at home to Leicester City at the end of April became the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory.

 

2018-2019

Crystal Palace’s 113th season of existence began with an opening day 2-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage. Hodgson’s side struggled to sustain any consistency in the first four months of the season but they are going in the right direction after wins in December over Burnley, Leicester City and more recently, a surprising and deserving 3-2 victory away at champions Manchester City, helped by a Goal of the Season contender from Andros Townsend.

Premier League Rewind: 28th-30th April 2018

Results: Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Burnley 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester City, Huddersfield Town 0-2 Everton, Newcastle United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion, Southampton 2-1 AFC Bournemouth, Swansea City 0-1 Chelsea, West Ham United 1-4 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Watford

The 2017-2018 season was drifting towards its conclusion and with the championship already settled in favour of Manchester City, attention was starting to turn towards the bottom of the table. With three games left to play, only AFC Bournemouth and Watford came into the weekend virtually safe in the bottom half of the table. There was still plenty to play for.

West Bromwich Albion still had a mountain to climb but Darren Moore’s side were showing some resolve and steel that had been missing for much of the campaign. Matt Phillips’ goal after 29 minutes steered them to a fantastic 1-0 away victory at Newcastle United. In four games in caretaker charge, Moore had now amassed eight points and kept Albion still with a slender chance of beating the drop. Newcastle remained 10th but this was their first home loss in 2018.

Time was starting to run out for Stoke City. Paul Lambert had failed to muster a single victory since his first match in-charge and that run increased to 12 games despite a battling 0-0 draw away at Anfield against Liverpool FC. Mohamed Salah missed a great opportunity after just six minutes and a well-drilled Stoke side kept the home side quiet who were in-between their two legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against AS Roma.

Southampton had won just one match in the Premier League throughout 2018 but they kept themselves in with a shout of beating the drop after overcoming AFC Bournemouth 2-1 in a tense South Coast Derby. Dusan Tadic’s final parting gift to Southampton fans before his summer departure for Ajax saw the Serbian international score twice to help Mark Hughes to his first victory in the league as Southampton boss. It would ultimately turn out to be an imperative three points for the club.

Going in the wrong direction were Swansea City. The Swans had failed to win a game in the Premier League since early March and that run stretched to five matches after losing 1-0 at home to Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas scored the only goal of the game after just four minutes. It was the Spaniard’s 50th Premier League goal.

One team who had nothing to worry about now were Crystal Palace. Safety was virtually guaranteed after the Eagles recorded their biggest-ever victory in the Premier League, dismantling Leicester City 5-0. The Foxes had Marc Albrighton sent off in the second half but never looked at the races at Selhurst Park with Wilfried Zaha in scintillating form. Six points clear of safety, Palace were heading towards the comfortable reaches of mid-table.

Before the game at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Arsenal, Arsene Wenger was given a special presentation to celebrate his 22-year stint as Gunners boss pre-match by current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and his old adversary, Sir Alex Ferguson. On-the-pitch, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored on his first visit back to The Theatre of Dreams since his January departure but Arsenal were denied a point by Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time header.

A 4-1 win at The London Stadium over West Ham United saw Manchester City achieve another landmark. Thanks to an own goal from Declan Rice, Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering superstars had now achieved the milestone of 100 goals in the season and saw them equal Chelsea’s record of 30 wins in a Premier League season achieved in 2016-2017.

What else happened in April 2018?

  • Another of Theresa May’s closest allies in the Conservative government resigns, as Amber Rudd forfeits her position as Home Secretary following the revelations in the Windrush scandal.
  • The United States, the United Kingdom and France order the bombing of Syrian military bases, in response to the sarin chemical attack in Douma.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a baby boy. Louis Arthur Charles become fifth in-line to the throne.
  • 10 people are killed in a vehicle-ramming attack in Toronto, Canada. A 25-year-old suspect is arrested.
  • The Gold Coast in Australia hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
  • Cinemas open in Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1983.
  • Miguel Díaz-Canel is sworn in as President of Cuba. It is the first time in 59 years that the surname Castro hasn’t occupied office in Cuba.

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 3-2 Brighton & Hove Albion (April 2018)

Goalscorers: Wilfried Zaha 5, 24, James Tomkins 14, Glenn Murray 18, Jose Izquierdo 34

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Patrick van Aanholt, Joel Ward, Yohan Cabaye (Christian Benteke 71), Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Jairo Riedewald 80), Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

Brighton & Hove Albion: Mat Ryan, Gaetan Bong (Solly March 86), Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Ezequiel Schelotto, Dale Stephens, Beram Kayal, Pascal Gross (Leonardo Ulloa 71), Jose Izquierdo, Jurgen Locadia (Anthony Knockaert 45), Glenn Murray

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 24,656

The rivalry between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion is nicknamed as The M23 Derby. It’s nickname coming as the motorway between Sussex and London. Despite there being 45 miles between the clubs’ home grounds, its rivalry stemmed from the 1970s when young managers were appointed at the same time and they went up the league pyramid system together.

It was the third meeting already between the teams in 2017-2018. They’d played out a stale goalless draw at The AMEX Stadium in November whilst Brighton had progressed from an FA Cup third round tie two months later. This would turn out to be a much better game. Five goals were scored; all coming in the first 34 minutes where attacking instincts simply overpowered defensive maturity.

Crystal Palace started the game one place above the relegation zone but had received a boost earlier in the day after 18th place Southampton threw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at home to Chelsea. Buoyed by that result and the occasion of the game, they started at breakneck speed and scored twice in the opening 14 minutes.

Brighton failed to clear a corner sufficiently and allowed Luka Milivojevic plenty of time to have a shot on-goal. The Serbian’s effort was kept out by Mat Ryan but Wilfried Zaha was in the right place to tap the ball into the net. The home side were infront after just five minutes. Only Burnley had been beaten in a Premier League match at Selhurst Park in 2018 before this game but the Seagulls looked like being added to that list when their Achilles heel struck again. This time, it was James Tomkins who pounced from close-range after more hesitation from Brighton defenders at a set-piece. They had the worst record for conceding goals from set-pieces during the 2017-2018 season.

One thing Brighton did have in their locker was Glenn Murray. Only three Englishman; Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Raheem Sterling scored more goals than Murray did in the season and he added another to his tally here, poking the ball into the net via the crossbar after Lewis Dunk had flicked the ball on from another set-piece. 24 minutes had been played when the scoreline moved to 3-1. Milivojevic floated a ball to the back post and the alert Zaha was left unchallenged by Ezequiel Schelotto to score a rare header and his seventh goal of the campaign.

Roy Hodgson could never relax though and Jose Izquierdo reduced the deficit again on 34 minutes, finishing across Wayne Hennessey’s bows and into the net. Understandably, both managers took a more cautious approach to the second half but it was Brighton who had the better chances after the interval and Murray missed a glorious chance in stoppage-time to save a point, volleying wide from three yards out.

Palace held on for a valuable win that moved them six points clear of the drop zone and they would overtake Brighton in the table in the closing weeks to finish a respectable 11th.

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United (March 2018)

Goalscorers: Andros Townsend 11, Patrick van Aanholt 48, Chris Smalling 59, Romelu Lukaku 78, Nemanja Matic 90

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Patrick van Aanholt, Martin Kelly, James Tomkins, James McArthur, Luka Milivojevic, Jeff Schlupp (Jairo Riedewald 80), Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke, Alexander Sorloth

Manchester United: David de Gea, Antonio Valencia (Luke Shaw 67), Ashley Young (Juan Mata 67), Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay (Marcus Rashford 45), Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez

Referee: Neil Swarbrick, Attendance: 25,840

Crystal Palace’s 2017-2018 season had been one of contrasting fortunes. Pointless and goalless after seven matches, they had reached the dizzying heights of 12th position in the table when they defeated Burnley 1-0 in mid-January. Now, they were in a tailspin of alarming results. Five games without a win, Roy Hodgson’s side kicked off this match against Manchester United back in the relegation zone.

The home side looked sharper, quicker and hungrier than their opponents and deservedly hit the front after just 11 minutes. Andros Townsend’s shot from distance deflected in off the unfortunate Victor Lindelof to put the Eagles into the lead. Palace’s front two of Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth were working hard to give United’s defenders problems. Paul Pogba was sloppy in possession and youngster Scott McTominay struggled in the central midfield battle.

If Mourinho had tried to motivate his team in the half-time team talk, his defenders clearly weren’t listening. Three minutes after the interval, Jeff Schlupp took a quick free-kick and the visiting defence were caught completely off-guard. Full-back Patrick van Aanholt exposed this horrendous miscommunication and smashed a shot beyond David de Gea to put Crystal Palace into a deserved 2-0 lead.

If the scoreline stayed as it was, Hodgson’s side were going 13th in the table. The hosts were missing 10 first-team players due to injury and suspension and one of those missing was their influential winger, Wilfried Zaha. As soon as Chris Smalling pulled a goal back, heading home from Antonio Valencia’s cross, Zaha’s presence was clearly missed.

United started to gain a grip on proceedings and moments after Benteke had cleared a Nemanja Matic effort off the line, Alexis Sanchez had a shot that deflected onto the crossbar. The ball landed back into the path of Romelu Lukaku and despite having no fewer than five players around him, the Belgian stayed composed and squeezed in the equaliser with 14 minutes left to play. Mourinho still need another wonder save from De Gea though. The Spaniard produced a remarkable stop to keep out a powerful headed attempt by Benteke.

In the first minute of stoppage-time, Palace hearts were to be broken. From nearly 30-yards out, Matic tried his luck. The Serbian, who has shown his capability of finding the net from distance during his time in English football, did it again. His dipping volley beat Wayne Hennessey, winning the game for Manchester United with a stunning strike.

The Red Devils had shown great resilience to comeback from 2-0 down but you had to feel for Hodgson and his team, who put so much effort into this contest and were left with nothing to show for it. The season had a happy ending for Eagles supporters though. They lost two of their next three matches but then went on a six-match unbeaten streak at the end of the campaign to finish 11th. Manchester United wound up second but a record-breaking 19 points adrift of their city rivals.

Shock Results: Leicester City 0-3 Crystal Palace (December 2017)

Goalscorers: Christian Benteke 19, Wilfried Zaha 40, Bakary Sako 90

Teams:

Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire, Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson, Vicente Iborra (Shinji Okazaki 77), Wilfred Ndidi (SENT OFF), Marc Albrighton (Andy King 77), Demarai Gray, Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy (Leonardo Ulloa 85)

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Martin Kelly, Jeff Schlupp, Yohan Cabaye (Jairo Riedewald 85), James McArthur, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke (Bakary Sako 88)

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 31,081

After their truly abysmal start to the 2017-2018 season that yielded no points from seven matches, Crystal Palace were starting to recover by the time Christmas arrived. The Eagles had found some form at Selhurst Park but were still without the magic formula on their travels. They hadn’t even scored away from home by the time they travelled to The King Power Stadium.

They faced a rejuvenated Leicester City. Two months earlier, the former Premier League champions had dispensed with the services of Craig Shakespeare as manager after just one win in their first eight matches. Now, Claude Puel had steered them to four successive victories and just one defeat in seven matches, which had come against Manchester City. With Palace’s pompous away record, this looked like a home banker on many of the weekend’s accumulators.

However, Roy Hodgson’s team were about to tear up the formbook, producing a dazzling display that left the Foxes in a Saturday lunchtime daze. Palace took control of the game from the opening moments and deservedly took the lead after 19 minutes. Christian Benteke showed some of his old form to power a header past Kasper Schmeichel after he met Andros Townsend’s deep cross. It was the perfect response from Benteke, who had taken a spot-kick against AFC Bournemouth a week earlier and missed having gone against team instructions from his manager.

Only a yellow card which led to a suspension would temper Benteke’s afternoon. The Belgian was a menace throughout and so was the ever-increasingly influential Wilfried Zaha. Five minutes before half-time, he doubled the advantage for the south-east Londoners, producing a lovely stepover to beat Ben Chilwell, then producing a devastating finish past Schmeichel. Leicester looked shell-shocked. This was almost a completely different team from the one that had just dismantled Southampton 4-1 in their own backyard less than 72 hours earlier.

Puel’s side did rally after the break. Vicente Iborra had the ball in the net but it was rightfully disallowed for a foul in the build-up, whilst veteran goalkeeper Julian Speroni was at full stretch to deny Riyad Mahrez from distance. Any realistic hope Leicester had of getting back into the match though was ended by Wilfred Ndidi’s dismissal just past the hour mark. On his 21st birthday, Ndidi went down cheaply in the penalty area looking for a spot-kick. Martin Atkinson wasn’t falling for this trick and booked the Nigerian for simulation. That was his second bookable offence, leading to an early bath and a dressing-down from his manager. It wasn’t a birthday to remember for Ndidi.

Crystal Palace saw the game out comfortably with the extra man advantage and Benteke was slightly unfortunate not to win a penalty for his side late on when it seemed like Marc Albrighton had tripped him. In stoppage-time, it was his replacement, Bakary Sako who added the gloss to an almost perfect away performance with a fine finish.

There were still nine points between the sides on the full-time whistle but this win and a resounding 5-0 victory at Selhurst Park in April made Leicester a very favourable opponent for Crystal Palace in the 2017-2018 Premier League season.