Tag Archives: Crystal Palace

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.

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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.

Premier League Rewind: 24th-26th November 2017

Results: West Ham United 1-1 Leicester City, Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke City, Manchester United 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United 0-3 Watford, Swansea City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool FC 1-1 Chelsea, Southampton 4-1 Everton, Burnley 0-1 Arsenal, Huddersfield Town 1-2 Manchester City

By the end of November 2017, Manchester City were looking absolutely unstoppable. Eight points clear at the start of the weekend, that figure remained intact for Pep Guardiola’s men but only after they survived a major scare away at Huddersfield Town.

A month earlier, Huddersfield had defeated Manchester United at The John Smith’s Stadium and for a few moments, it looked like a shock double was on the cards when Nicolas Otamendi headed the ball into his own net on the stroke of half-time. Sergio Aguero did quickly equalise in the second half via the penalty spot but it looked like the points would be shared until six minutes from full-time. Through a bit of fortune and persistence, Raheem Sterling scored the winning goal to extend City’s winning run in the Premier League to 11 games.

24 hours earlier, Manchester United also required a big slice of fortune to defeat plucky Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at Old Trafford. Ashley Young’s shot deflected off Lewis Dunk and looped over a stranded Mat Ryan in the 66th minute to give the Red Devils three points. It was a weekend where the established elite all generally struggled.

For the second season running, Arsenal needed a stoppage-time goal to claim all three points at Turf Moor against Burnley. In the second minute of stoppage-time, James Tarkowski was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Ramsey in the penalty area. Alexis Sanchez made no mistake from 12-yards out to score the only goal of the game and took Arsenal into the top four, having won four of their last five games.

They replaced north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the top four after Tottenham stumbled to a 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion at Wembley Stadium. West Brom had sacked Tony Pulis earlier in the week and caretaker manager Gary Megson’s side put in a stoic defensive display to earn a hard-fought point. Since beating Liverpool FC 4-1 a month earlier, Tottenham had picked up just four points from four games.

At the wrong end of the table and Everton’s horrific season continued. Despite Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first Premier League goal for the club, the Toffees succumbed to a heavy 4-1 defeat away at Southampton. Charlie Austin scored twice for the home side, as the Saints climbed into 10th spot off the back of this handsome victory. Wayne Rooney was an unused substitute for Everton who sat just two points above the relegation zone and were still without a permanent manager since sacking Ronald Koeman a month earlier.

Crystal Palace recorded a second victory of the season, coming from behind to defeat Stoke City 2-1. Mamadou Sakho scored the winning goal deep into stoppage-time to extend the Eagles’ unbeaten run on home soil to four games and took them to within three points of safety. David Moyes achieved his first point as West Ham United boss as the Hammers drew 1-1 in the Friday Night Football encounter against Leicester City but it wasn’t enough for the home side to escape the bottom three.

What else happened in November 2017?

  • After 37 years of ruling Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe resigns after being placed under house arrest. The military take control of the country.
  • Prince Harry announces his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle.
  • Ratko Mladic is found guilty of genocide committed in Srebrenica during the 1990s Bosnian War. He is sentenced to life in prison.
  • Sir Michael Fallon resigns as Defence Secretary following allegations of inappropriate previous behaviour. He is replaced by Gavin Williamson.
  • One of Leonardo da Vinci’s finest works, Salvator Mundi, sells for $450 million at Christie’s in New York. It becomes the new record price for any work of art produced.
  • Ex-Czech tennis player and winner of the women’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, Jana Novotna dies after a battle with cancer, aged 49.
  • A huge new leak of documents known as the Paradise Papers is reported, revealing how wealthy and powerful the rich really are with offshore investments. The Queen’s private estate is included with tech giants Apple and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton also facing tough questions following the leak.

Great Goals: Jermain Defoe – Crystal Palace vs. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (December 2017)

AFC Bournemouth had two Carling Goal of the Month winners in the 2017-2018 season. Whilst Charlie Daniels scored his thunderbolt against Manchester City in August, Jermain Defoe rolled back the years against Crystal Palace in December.

Now 35, Defoe is not afraid of scoring spectacular goals and this effort on a chilly Saturday afternoon in south-east London is among the best in his career. With half-time drawing closer, Bournemouth had just suffered a double blow, conceding goals in quick succession to Luka Milivojevic and Scott Dann. It looked like the Eagles were going to head into half-time leading 2-1. Defoe though, had other ideas.

There didn’t seem to be much danger when Defoe made an angling run to chase down Lewis Cook’s pass. Dann didn’t seem too worried to allow Defoe to get to the ball but the experienced forward swivelled suddenly and hit a sumptuous shot over a rattled Julian Speroni from almost an impossible angle.

It was the 201st goal of Defoe’s glorious league career and has to rank among his top 10.

Iconic Moments: Palace’s gamble backfires (September 2017)

After guiding another club to survival in May 2017, Sam Allardyce elected to step down as Crystal Palace manager, insisting his time as a club manager was over. Of course, ‘Big Sam’ wouldn’t be finished just yet. Owner Steve Parish turned to Frank de Boer to fill the vacancy at Selhurst Park.

As a player, de Boer’s CV is really impressive. He won league championships with Barcelona and Ajax and was part of Louis van Gaal’s squad at the latter that won the UEFA Champions League in 1995. In management, he’d enjoyed title success at Ajax too but had a dismal time in Italy, lasting less than three months in the Inter Milan job in 2016.

His appointment at Selhurst Park was a gamble that spectacularly backfired. The Eagles were woeful on the opening day, being heavily beaten 3-0 by Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town. Further losses followed to Liverpool FC and Swansea City and the pressure was already on the Dutchman. His ambitious style of football he wanted his players to play wasn’t working. They had been used to Allardyce’s style and the methods between the pair were vast to say the least.

After the August international break, Crystal Palace tumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor against Burnley. With four games played, no points and not even a single goal scored, Parish decided to admit to his error in judgement. De Boer was dismissed after just 10 weeks in the job. His reign is the shortest in Premier League history. Jose Mourinho later labelled him as “the worst manager in Premier League history.”

With statistics like de Boer achieved, it’s hard not to disagree with this sentiment but the story had a happy ending for Eagles supporters. Roy Hodgson came in and steered the club comfortably to safety. They finished a commendable 11th, considering they lost their first seven matches without scoring a single goal.

Shock Results: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea (October 2017)

Goalscorers: Cesar Azpilicueta 11 OG, Tiemoue Bakayoko 18, Wilfried Zaha 45

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt, Joel Ward, Yohan Cabaye (Jairo Riedewald 86), Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur (Timothy Fosu-Mensah 85), Jeff Schlupp (Jason Puncheon 75), Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Victor Moses (Davide Zappacosta 39), Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Willian (Charly Musonda 65), Michy Batshuayi (Pedro 57)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 25,480

Crystal Palace looked in dire straits at the start of October 2017. Seven games into their campaign and the Eagles had made the worst start ever in Premier League history. Seven defeats, no points earned and not even a goal scored. Their situation seemed hopeless already. Frank de Boer had been sacked just four games into his reign, replaced by Roy Hodgson. Hodgson had a reputation to repair himself. He had been out of work since England’s humiliating exit in the 2016 European Championships at the hands of Iceland. The chance to revive Palace’s fortunes and put himself back on the managerial map was too good to turn down.

After the October international break, Selhurst Park was packed to welcome the visit of league champions Chelsea. Antonio Conte’s side had recovered well from a shock opening day loss at home to Burnley and were boasting a 100% away record following fine victories away at Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Stoke City. The Blues were widely anticipated to keep that record going.

After 641 goalless minutes at the start of the season, Crystal Palace finally registered a goal to take a surprising early lead. Andros Townsend picked out Yohan Cabaye who showed great persistence in the penalty area, causing havoc which Chelsea’s defenders couldn’t deal with. David Luiz panicked and the ball eventually came off his teammate Cesar Azpilicueta and rebounded into the back of the net. It set the tone for an uncomfortable afternoon for the reigning champions.

Conte’s side were missing the energy of N’Golo Kante, who had been injured playing for France during the international break and it showed. However, his replacement did provide the equaliser. Tiemoue Bakayoko escaped his markers to guide home a corner from his central midfield partner, Cesc Fabregas. However, Chelsea’s front three of Michy Batshuayi, Willian and Eden Hazard failed to seriously test Julian Speroni on a regular basis.

It was another Palace returnee who would ultimately score the winner. Wilfried Zaha had been out of action since the opening day of the season but he returned with perfect timing. On the stroke of half-time, he escaped Azpilicueta’s challenge and slotted the ball beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Despite enjoying 60% of possession and piling the pressure on in the second half, Conte’s side couldn’t find a way through. He experienced back-to-back defeats for only the second time as a Premier League manager. Palace were finally off the mark for both goals and points. Their season finally had lift-off, thanks to the management guile of Hodgson and the skill of Zaha, who proved to be their integral matchwinner throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Great Goals: Pajtim Kasami – Crystal Palace vs. FULHAM (October 2013)

Now playing for FC Sion in Switzerland, there are two things Pajtim Kasami is probably known for. One is a brief fling with X-Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, the other for this amazing long-range volley in October 2013 against Crystal Palace.

It was a London Derby which both sides needed to win as both teams had made slow starts to the 2013-2014 season. Palace had scored early on but this goal from Kasami completely shifted the momentum away from the home side. Sascha Riether claimed the assist as his long ball found Kasami. The Swiss international controlled his pass superbly on his chest and with his second touch, produced an outstanding volley that Julian Speroni had simply no chance of saving.

Fulham won 4-1 and Ian Holloway left his position as Crystal Palace manager two days later. It didn’t quite win Goal of the Season for 2013-2014 but it was a strike that was talked about all over the country.