Christian Benteke

Ayew the hero for Palace against Watford

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Crystal Palace beat Watford 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday in a tight, feisty clash between two teams who know each other very well.

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Jordan Ayew was once again the hero for Crystal Palace as he rifled home a fine goal in the first half and Roy Hodgson‘s side held on for the all three points thanks to a third-straight shutout and 1-0 win. Nigel Pearson‘s Watford huffed and puffed but remain in the relegation scrap after they failed to build on their incredible win against Liverpool last weekend.

With the win Palace move into 10th place and have 40 points, as they are just five points off the top four. Watford remain in 17th place and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.


3 things we learned

1. Ayew having a sneaky good season: Eight goals in the Premier League is his best-ever return and Ayew has been so important to Palace, especially with Wilfried Zaha not hitting top form week in, week out this season. Ayew isn’t the most natural finisher in the world but he works hard and is taking a lot of the chances Palace create for him. He has now scored one goal on eight occasions this season and on each occasion he has scored Palace are unbeaten with six wins and two draws.

2. Watford’s inconsistency infuriating: They have now beat Liverpool, Wolves and Man United since Nigel Pearson arrived but are still in the thick of the relegation battle. Nigel Pearson’s Watford just can’t string together a run of wins against teams just above them.

3. Hodgson underrated: The 72-year-old Palace coach has led them to 11th and 12th place finishes in the last two seasons and they are now 10th. Does he get the credit he deserves? Probably not. Hodgson signed a one-year contract extension this week and after not being given funds to strengthen in January and after Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sold in the summer, you have to applaud the job he has done. What you see is what you get with Hodgson. His teams are organized and grind out wins. Palace may not be the best team to watch but they are getting it done.

Man of the Match: Christian Benteke – So often a scapegoat, the center forward held the ball up, almost scored with an acrobatic effort and brought out the best in Ayew and Zaha around him. Benteke gets plenty of stick but he is finally playing regularly and even if the goals aren’t flowing he provides a focal point to Palace’s attack.


Abdoulaye Doucoure almost squeezed home a shot at the near post early on and from a corner soon after Watford caused all kinds of problems but Crystal Palace cleared.

Will Hughes then dragged a shot wide as Watford came flying out of the traps and were obviously buoyed by their win against Liverpool.

Palace then took the lead with a superb goal as Ayew smashed home from the edge of the box after a lovely flowing move down the left which saw Zaha play in Benteke who found James McArthur to assist Ayew.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The game was very feisty with plenty of flash points, most involving Wilfried Zaha, as Watford and Etienne Capoue in particular targeted the Palace winger.

Zaha responded by going on a mazy run and forced Ben Foster into a fine stop down low as Watford’s goalkeeper stood tall.

Troy Deeney forced Vicente Guaita into a fine stop after his powerful effort from outside the box, then Christian Benteke sent one of his trademark acrobatic efforts inches wide.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 28

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One and two are pretty much set in stone, but there’s a new three on the block and only they seem a threat to challenge two.

It’s a lot of words to preview one of our final club power rankings of the Premier League season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Norwich City — A great win over Leicester inspires thoughts that the tricky schedule won’t be as big of an issue as it first looked.
Last week: 20
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Sheffield United

19. Aston Villa — The guts shown in the League Cup Final are replicable. Can Dean Smith coax them out again (and again)?
Last week: 19
Season high: 6
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Saints
Up next: 4 p.m. ET Monday at Leicester City

18. Bournemouth —  Nice draw with Chelsea.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Chelsea
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Liverpool

17. Watford — The win over Liverpool is a dream. The loss of Gerard Deulofeu is a nightmare.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Palace

16. Newcastle United — So drab. And if there isn’t another win soon, the back end of the schedule will send them down.
Last week: 15
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Southampton

15. Brighton and Hove Albion — At some point, the unluckiness has to wear on the Seagulls. Performances have been better than the depths of the table.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Wolves

14. West Ham United — much-needed win has them out of the table on goal differential.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Southampton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Arsenal

13. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson deserves a lot of praise for conjuring life back into the Eagles. If Christian Benteke could finish, the Eagles would be tempting the UEL places.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 1-0 at Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

12. Southampton — The Saints are on a plateau.
Last week: 12
Season high: 7
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-1 at West Ham
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

11. Sheffield United — Did the week off provide Chris Wilder a plan to play Sander Berge and John Lundstram together effectively?
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday v. Norwich City

10. Burnley — Unextinguishable.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Newcastle United
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

9. Arsenal — Pablo Mari looked good against Portsmouth. West Ham will be a slight step up.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Won 3-2 v. Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday v. West Ham

8. Leicester City — Two points from four matches, with Villa next. Brendan Rodgers should count his blessings the chasing pack has largely taken a collective nap.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Norwich City
Up next: 4 p.m. ET Monday v. Aston Villa

7. Manchester United — Bruno Fernandes is a magician. It’s a shame we won’t get to see him with Marcus Rashford any time soon (though he’s set to make it back before the end of the season).
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Everton
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday v. Man City

6. Everton — Is Jordan Pickford really a problem? For your average side, no, but Everton wants to shoot high. He needs to do a bit better with the expected stops, because he’s got a knack for the wild stops.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Manchester United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday at Chelsea

5. Tottenham Hotspur — Results must improve, but so much the system. What’s the plan?
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 3-2 v. Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

4. Chelsea — Disappointing draw with Bournemouth, but few behind them did anything to justify dropping them further.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday v. Everton

3. Wolves — They can and will out-run and outlast you, and Raul Jimenez will devour your back line.
Last week: 7
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 3-2 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Brighton

2. Man City — Bold prediction considering Aymeric Laporte is out: City will finish within 19 points of Liverpool to preserve their record triumph from 2017/18 over Manchester United.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 1-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

1. Liverpool — A loss was bound to happen, and more may come as Liverpool reprioritizes the Champions League and perhaps the FA Cup.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

Crystal Palace beat bitter rivals Brighton

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Crystal Palace beat Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at the Amex on Saturday as the Eagles made the Seagulls pay for wasting plenty of chances.

Jordan Ayew scored with 20 minutes to go to give Palace the win as Roy Hodgson’s side secured back-to-back victories in the Premier League, while Graham Potter’s Brighton are embroiled in the relegation battle.

With the win Palace move on to 36 points for the season and look set for a top 10 finish. Brighton sit just four points above the drop zone.


3 things we learned

1. Brighton in big trouble: They okay great stuff but just haven’t been clinical enough and this game was Brighton’s season in a nutshell. They haven’t won a game in 2020 yet and are sinking towards the bottom three. One season there is always one team which starts off well but then drops into the relegation battle. That is Brighton as Potter’s side just don’t score enough goal.

2. Zaha wins the battle: He was goaded by the home fans and embraced it. Zaha, once again, led Palace to victory against their bitter rivals. Zaha has scored more goals against Brighton than any other team. Zaha switched flanks early and clashed with subs, had some banter with the home fans and then smashed the post late on as he was Palace’s biggest threat. This may be his last derby game for Palace against Brighton as he continues to be linked with a move away. If it was, Zaha won another battle against Brighton. And probably the war.

3. Palace have bragging rights: For the first time since April 2018 Palace beat Brighton. They have bragging rights and even though they are just over 40 miles apart, that means a lot. This is not the most traditional rivalry in English soccer but it is a growing one and the intensity on and off the pitch summed up the passion.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha – Hit the post, gave Brighton’s defense a tough time and was always an outlet for Palace. Superb display when he was the target of taunts all game long.


In an even first half both Christian Benteke and Neal Maupay both had chances, while Palace went close to opening the scoring as Kouyate forced Mat Ryan into a fine stop.

Brighton put Palace under pressure the longer the first half wore on and Zaha was involved in a spat with the home fans and sub Schelotto who was booked.

Zaha put both his hands up to his ears towards the crowd and pushed Schelotto who appeared to have said something. The best chance of the first half then arrived as Maupay and Trossard combined to set up a counterattack but Solly March missed the chance.

At half time James McCarthy was replaced by Jairo Riedewald.

But Palace couldn’t get going as Brighton missed a big chance to take the lead. Maupay collected the ball after a deflection found him but he hit his shot straight at Guiata.

Palace then made the most of that reprieve as Ayew put them 1-0 up to send the away fans wild behind the goal.

Benteke held the ball up superbly and played in Ayew who finished with ease as flares were set off in the away end.

Late on Alzate wanted a penalty kick and Zaha hit the post as Palace won a tight, tense derby.

Palace rides Van Aanholt free kick past messy Newcastle

Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United recap and video highlights
Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
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Patrick Van Aanholt starred against his former derby rivals as Crystal Palace beat Newcastle United 1-0 on Saturday at Selhurst Park.

Palace snaps a three-match losing run with the win, moving 13th with 33 points.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Newcastle stays on 31 points in 14th.

Valentino Lazaro took a straight red card for a take down of Wilfried Zaha deep in stoppage time and will miss the next three games.


Three things we learned

1. Van Aanholt shines bright:  The Eagles’ fullback hasn’t been at his best too often this season, but he was marvelous on Saturday even apart from the free kick goal. Playing against his former Northeast rivals, Van Aanholt passes at 85 percent, completed five of eight crosses and two of four long balls. He was credited with six key passes and the creation of two big chances (via Sofascore).

2. Same two stars for Newcastle, the rest passengers: Martin Dubravka made eight saves to keep Newcastle in the match, and the attack only went so far as electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Newcastle has badly needed a difference-maker in the midfield, and it’s no surprise the midfield is a mess without a real January energizer. Sean Longstaff has been a shell of the man linked with a $35 million move to Manchester United this summer.

3. Scrappy affair: Referee Peter Bankes handed out plenty of yellow cards — five for Newcastle, two for Brighton — and there wasn’t much consistency as to what merited a mere whistle and what registered as a caution. Palace had 15 fouls to Newcastle’s nine despite the discrepancy in cards.

Man of the Match: Van Aanholt, who got the better of his only rival for the honors with his free kick goal.


Dubravka was as busy early as Palace was wasteful. Jordan Ayew and Christian Benteke failed to strike with force from 18 yards before the keeper palmed away a strong Scott Dann header off a corner.

Palace keeper Vicente Guaita was then troubled by a Joelinton rip from distance, and Newcastle had a corner and a chance to breathe.

Benteke missed a sitter on a perfectly struck free kick, Newcastle bailed out in the 21st minute.

Joelinton and Benteke seemed intent on competing for least clinical striker, with the former then bungling a chance to cross for a streaking Miguel Almiron.

It took ex-Sunderland man Van Aanholt to put Newcastle to the sword with a delightful 45th-minute free kick.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Ayew should’ve had it 2-0 in the 48th minute when Van Aanholt’s cross found him near the back post, which he struck.

Gary Cahill then headed a Van Aanholt free kick off the side netting from close range.

Dominated for 68 minutes, the Magpies saw two bits of danger through Danny Rose and Fabian Schar in the 69th. The latter led to a pair of corners.

Dubravka again got the better of Ayew after Zaha and Cheikhou Kouyate set up a brilliant chance. Wasteful.

Everton beat lackluster Crystal Palace

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Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday as Carlo Ancelotti continues to work his magic on the Toffees.

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Bernard and Richarlison twice gave Everton the lead with classy goals after Christian Benteke had briefly drawn a poor Palace side level thanks in part to a big mistake from Jordan Pickford.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin continued his great form to make it 3-1 late on and he could have added another too. With the win Everton move on to 36 points and up to seventh in the table, while Palace are six points off the drop zone but have played a game more than most of their rivals.


3 things we learned

1. Everton in European battle: All of a sudden Everton are one point off fifth place. Carlo Ancelotti has won five of his first eight Premier League games in charge of the Toffees and they have lost just once under the veteran Italian coach so far, and that was 2-1 at Man City. At the start of this season under Marco Silva they were supposed to be in a push for European qualification. Finally they are and if the Toffees can clean up sloppy defensive errors they can sustain this push for Europa League qualification. They have a tough run of games coming up but they have momentum.

2. Palace, Zaha low on confidence: There is always one team which sinks towards the relegation scrap and it looks like being Crystal Palace. Wilfried Zaha has gone off the boil and that has coincided with Palace not winning any of their last seven games, winning just one of their last 11 in the PL and they’ve now lost three straight. The Eagles have gone from top six hopefuls to relegation candidates in a matter of a month. Scoring goals has been a problem all season long as Zaha has three goals all season and Jordan Ayew is their top scorer with six. Palace now have a slightly more favorable run of games but their next four against Newcastle, Brighton, Watford and Bournemouth now seem like must win.

3. Richarlison’s quality clear: Many people raised several eyebrows when Barcelona reportedly put in a $105 million bid for Richarlison late in the January transfer window. But should we be that surprised? The Brazilian striker is just 22 years old and he already has 27 PL goals in 97 appearances in the competition and Palace couldn’t handle his direct running and threat in the air and in the box. Alongside Calvert-Lewin he has someone to feed in attack and the duo have a great understanding.

Man of the Match: Richarlison – Scored a superb goal, his header lead to another and ran Palace’s defense ragged.


Lucas Digne‘s free kick was pushed away by Vicente Guaita early on as Everton took the game to Palace.

At the other end Palace hit the post from a tight angle as Patrick Van Aanholt‘s low effort took a deflection onto the woodwork.

Everton deservedly took the lead less than halfway through the first half as Theo Walcott whipped in a delicious cross from the right and Bernard was on hand to volley home at the Gwladys Street End.

That was Walcott’s final act of the game as he was forced off through injury and Djibril Sidibe replaced him after a short delay as he took his time in the tunnel area.

Bernard almost set up Dominic Calvert-Lewin who couldn’t get on the end of the ball as the attempted a diving header.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Palace started the second half well as Yerry Mina failed to clear and Zaha failed to make the most of a good opportunity at the back post.

Zaha then played in Benteke after Palace won a few second balls and the Belgian striker sent a tame effort on target which somehow squeezed through Jordan Pickford and in. It was Benteke’s first Premier League goal in 34 games and it sprung Palace into life.

Moments later a corner caused havoc at the near post as the ball hit Benteke and then hit the post as Everton were all over the place defensively.

Everton then regained the lead as a long ball forward was flicked on by Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison raced onto it and finished calmly into the bottom corner.

In the closing stages the game turned into an end-to-end encounter as Benteke was then denied brilliantly by Pickford who spread himself to save his header from close range.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was then denied just as brilliantly by Vicente Guaita as he danced through the Palace defense but the Spanish goalkeeper saved his dinked effort.

Everton dominated late on and Richarlison’s header from a corner hit the bar and Calvert-Lewin was on hand to wrap up the win with his sixth goal in eight games under Ancelotti.