Tag Archives: Wilfried Zaha

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 3-3 Crystal Palace (August 2014)

Goalscorers: Dwight Gayle 1, Daryl Janmaat 37, Jason Puncheon 48, Rolando Aarons 73, Mike Williamson 88, Wilfried Zaha 90

Teams:

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Massadio Haidara, Daryl Janmaat (Vurnon Anita 79), Mike Williamson, Remy Cabella, Jack Colback, Moussa Sissoko, Siem de Jong (Ayoze Perez 79), Yoan Gouffran (Rolando Aarons 67), Emmanuel Riviere

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly, Adrian Mariappa, Joel Ward, Mile Jedinak, Yannick Bolasie (Glenn Murray 83), Jason Puncheon, Marouane Chamakh (Fraizer Campbell 52), Dwight Gayle (Wilfried Zaha 70)

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 49,226

This encounter in late August was between two teams who hadn’t enjoyed positive starts to the 2014-2015 Premier League campaign. Newcastle United had failed to score in their first two matches, whilst Crystal Palace had started without a manager after Tony Pulis’ abrupt departure on the eve of the campaign and two successive defeats. However, they had appointed Neil Warnock on the eve of the game for his second spell at Selhurst Park. It would be a thrilling return.

The visitors made a wonderful start and Dwight Gayle scored the opening goal after just 29 seconds. He was in the right place to finish from close-range after Tim Krul had diverted Marouane Chamakh’s effort onto the post. This followed up a midweek hat-trick for Gayle in the League Cup win over Walsall.

Managed at the time by Alan Pardew, Newcastle knew they needed to end their goalscoring drought; otherwise the natives on Tyneside would get incredibly restless. Sure enough, they levelled eight minutes before the interval. Full-back Daryl Janmaat broke into the box and when his first attempt on-goal was blocked, he followed up swiftly to defeat Julian Speroni and level the scores. It was his first Newcastle goal since joining in the summer from Dutch side Feyenoord.

Only a couple of minutes had passed in the second half before Jason Puncheon restored Palace’s lead. Newcastle backed off Puncheon and it was a fatal error. His volley took a nick off Fabricio Coloccini which was enough to leave goalkeeper Krul stranded and beaten for the second time in the afternoon. It was a nice moment for Puncheon. Doubts had immediately surfaced about his future at the club after Warnock’s appointment. The pair had fallen out the previous season over a missed penalty at Tottenham when Warnock was a TV pundit. An unsavoury post on Twitter followed from the midfielder, earning him a £15,000 fine from the FA for his actions.

Pardew responded by bringing on 18-year-old Rolando Aarons and the Jamaican added some zest to the Newcastle attack. He scored his first senior goal in the 73rd minute, heading home in the penalty area after Scott Dann had failed to clear Remy Cabella’s corner. Aarons then had a big part to play in Newcastle taking the lead. His 88th minute shot hit the bar but fell perfectly for Mike Williamson to tap home his first Magpies’ goal.

However, just when it looked like the points would be staying in the north east, Palace rallied again. In the fifth minute of stoppage-time, Newcastle failed to clear their defensive lines and Wilfried Zaha bashed home an equaliser in his first game back at the club on-loan from Manchester United.

A point apiece was a fair result. Warnock would be sacked by December and he would be replaced by…Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. He took the Eagles’ to their highest league finish in the Premier League era of 10th.

Memorable Matches: Swansea City 5-4 Crystal Palace (November 2016)

Goalscorers: Wilfried Zaha 19, Gylfi Sigurdsson 36, Leroy Fer 66, 68, James Tomkins 75, Jack Cork 82 OG, Christian Benteke 84, Fernando Llorente 90+1, 90+3

Teams:

Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Neil Taylor, Jordi Amat, Federico Fernandez, Kyle Naughton (Jefferson Montero 86), Jay Fulton, Jack Cork, Leroy Fer, Wayne Routledge (Fernando Llorente 66), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Modou Barrow (Angel Rangel 80)

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Martin Kelly (Zeki Fryers 73), Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Joel Ward, James McArthur (Bakary Sako 82), Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon, Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham (Andros Townsend 52)

Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 20,276

From an entertainment perspective, the match between Swansea City and Crystal Palace in November 2016 will go down as one of the most exciting ever played in the Premier League. If you are looking for a defending masterclass, my advice would be to stay well clear of this match.

Going into the game, neither side was in any kind of form. Swansea were yet to win under American manager Bob Bradley since he took charge in early October. Crystal Palace were on a ghastly run of five successive defeats and Alan Pardew was the bookies’ favourite to be sacked next in the top-flight. This would turn out to be the 21st Premier League game to see nine or more goals scored. However, the first half never threatened to preview what would happen in a crazy final 25 minutes.

It was 1-1 at the interval. Wilfried Zaha put the visitors’ infront in the 19th minute. Zaha, who was about to confirm he would represent the Ivory Coast at international level, easily beat two defenders before slicing a low shot past Lukasz Fabianski. The Eagles’ lead lasted 15 minutes before a trademark Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick levelled the scores.

There was a worrying start to the second half when Crystal Palace forward Connor Wickham needed extensive treatment on the pitch. His foot got trapped in the turf whilst he was attempting to tackle Sigurdsson. The game was delayed for seven minutes. Wickham went off on a stretcher with a serious knee injury. His match and season were over. The match first turned Swansea’s way when Bradley brought Fernando Llorente off the bench on the hour mark. With his very first touch of the game, the Spaniard caused panic in the Palace backline and Leroy Fer cashed in to hand the hosts the lead. Two minutes later, Dutchman Fer slid in from close range from a Sigurdsson free-kick.

Pardew’s side looked down and out in the 74th minute. Yet 10 minutes later, they had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Now, it was Swansea’s defenders to feel the jitters. James Tomkins scored a scrambled effort, before Jack Cork flicked in Zaha’s free-kick over Fabianski and into his own net. Then, more atrocious defending allowed Christian Benteke to hit a shot off the post and rebound in. However, there was another twist in this enthralling encounter.

Llorente had a point to prove. He had been dropped from the squad for the previous weekend’s match with Everton. He answered the doubts of his manager in fabulous fashion. In the first minute of time added on, Sigurdsson had an effort saved and Llorente was quickest to flash the ball past Hennessey. He wasn’t finished. More kamikaze Palace defending in the third minute of stoppage time allowed Llorente to stab the ball past Hennessey and seal Swansea’s amazing 5-4 victory.

Neither manager survived 2016 in their post. Pardew was sacked four matches later, whilst Bradley went after a Boxing Day battering by West Ham United. Both clubs would ultimately win their fights against relegation. There were some great games in the 2016-2017 campaign but none could topple this see-saw afternoon in south Wales.