James McArthur

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.

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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.

Blades battle to victory at Palace

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Sheffield United’s remarkable season continued as they won 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

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An own goal from Vicente Guaita was the difference at Selhurst Park as the Blades missed chances and limited Palace’s attack to very few efforts.

With the win Sheffield United have 36 points, while Palace stay on 30.


3 things we learned

1. VAR does its job: The pitch side monitor was used and it worked a treat. Joel Ward was initially sent off but Andy Madley used the VAR monitor and took the red away. This is what the technology is there for. Well played.

2. Blades dream of Europe: In a nutshell this was what Sheffield United’s success has been all about. They defended well, looked dangerous on the counter and made set pieces count. New signing Sander Berge settled in well on his debut and Chris Wilder‘s side are well in the hunt for the Europa League, and maybe the top four is within reach. What a season for the newly-promoted side who are so tough to break down.

3. Palace’s attacking woes continue: As good as Sheffield United were defensively, palace were woeful in attack. They have scored three goals in their last five games in all competitions and Wilfried Zaha had another off day.

Man of the Match: Dean Henderson – Made a big save when he was needed and marshalled the Blades back line well.


A scrappy first half saw both teams have chances but the game opened up in the second half and Sheffield United took the lead.

A howler from Vicente Guaita put them 1-0 up as he caught the ball from a corner but fell over the line and conceded.

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Two good saves saw Guaita make amends for his error, then Dean Henderson denied James McArthur.

Joel Ward was then shown a red card for a challenge on Enda Stevens but Andy Madley checked the screen on the side of the pitch and overturned his own decision.

Late on John Egan flashed a shot just over from a set piece situation as the Blades sucked the life out of the game as their fantastic season continues.

Palace grab VAR-assisted draw at Norwich

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Norwich City were pegged back late on by Crystal Palace to draw 1-1 as VAR once again denied the Canaries victory in the Premier League.

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Todd Cantwell gave them a deserved lead but they squandered several chances and Connor Wickham then had a goal awarded via VAR after it was initially given offside on the pitch.

With the point Norwich stay bottom of the table on 14 points and are seven points from safety, while Palace are on 28 points and remain in the hunt for Europe.


3 things we learned

1. Zaha wins superb battle with Aarons: This was a great battle between a winger and full back as Aarons got the better of Zaha in the first half but Zaha’s quality shone through late on to create the equalizer. Aarons caught Zaha with a meaty challenge in the second half and that showed that he was getting tired. Zaha got better the longer the game went on and as rumors circulate that Chelsea want to push hard to sign him in January, his recent form proves he is one of the best out-and-out wingers in the PL. If not the best. Aarons, just 19 years, will also be a man in demand at the end of this season as a price tag of $55 million has been slapped on his head. On this viewing it is easy to understand why.

2. VAR hits Norwich again: They had decisions go against them in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham and Norwich were again hit by VAR. Wickham was onside by an outstretched kneecap and the Canaries will be cursing their luck as they had ample chances to put the game to bed when they were 1-0 up. VAR correctly ruled the goal onside and it denied Norwich a big win on a day when plenty of other teams around them at the bottom secured victories.

3. Canaries cut adrift: Norwich are now seven points adrift at the bottom and Daniel Farke‘s side are starting to show that they have the lowest budget in the Premier League. They’ve now gone eight games without a win and they are so close to turning draws into victories but that extra bit of quality just isn’t there. Do they spend big in January to try and stay up? Or do they call it quits and build for another promotion push? Probably the latter as they are becoming the ultimate yo-yo team.

Man of the Match: Emiliano Buendia – Set up the first goal, made Norwich tick and although he faded a little, he has real quality on the ball. He will be in the PL next season, but maybe not with Norwich.


Norwich got off to a perfect start as Emiliano Buendia and Cantwell combined and after the former had a shock blocked, the ball fell to the latter who finished to send Carrow Road wild.

Pukki then had a goal correctly chalked off for being offside as the Canaries were slick in attack and causing Crystal Palace’s banged up defense plenty of problems with their movement.

The Eagles played their way into the game with Wilfried Zaha their main target but he was involved in a tough battle with young Norwich right back Max Aarons.

Palace had a huge chance to equalize just before half time as Jairo Riedewald was played in but decided to pass instead of having a shot and James McArthur‘s shot was superbly blocked with Tim Krul out of his goal.

Zaha was a growing influence in the game but Norwich almost doubled their lead but James Tomkins defended Pukki well and Aarons then pulled a shot wide.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Palace dominated the play as Norwich sat back and tried to manage the game.

Vicente Guaita saved superbly from Buendia’s free kick ahead of a tense final 30 minutes in Norfolk. Max Meyer turned well but his low shot lacked the power to concern Tim Krul.

Alex Tettey‘s shot was deflected wide and Mario Vrancic couldn’t convert at the near post as the game turned into an end-to-end encounter, as Jordan Ayew‘s cross somehow evaded everyone as Palace pushed hard for a late equalizer.

Norwich hit the crossbar through Kenny McLean as they poured forward but at the other end Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was flicked on by a Norwich defender and somehow missed every single Palace player as it went out for a corner.

Zaha flashed a few wild efforts off target and he then got the better of Aarons and whipped in a superb cross which substitute Wickham tapped home but the offside flag went up.

However, VAR was used and after a lengthy delay the goal was awarded as Wickham was kept onside by a Norwich kneecap as the former Ipswich Town striker scored against their fierce rivals to make it 1-1.

Ayew wondergoal completes Palace comeback v. West Ham

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Jordan Ayew‘s solo wondergoal won all three points for Crystal Palace in a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at Selhurst Park on Thursday.

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Robert Snodgrass had put the Irons in front, but former West Ham man Cheikhou Kouyate equalized as all the goals came after halftime.

Palace moves 11th with 24 points, while West Ham slips 17th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Ayew delivers a beautiful winner: The Palace forward joined Wilfried Zaha in being a proper threat, but his winner was all about him. The 28-year-old Ghanian cut toward the 18 and moved free with a spinning turn before using a delightful chip to leave Roberto pawing at air.

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2. Pellegrini’s inconsistent Irons put him at risk: Michail Antonio was strong and Sebastien Haller had moments atop the attack, but the Irons attack only managed a pair of shots on target. Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini came off the bench to decent effect, but certainly are nowhere near their top form. Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini must be at wits’ end.

3. Quality, not industry, denies West Ham: The Irons won more challenges — 28-14 in the air — and had more tackles, interceptions, and clearances. Some of those are down to Palace’s time with the ball, but it’s worth noting that for as poor as the Irons have been, they have not quit on Pellegrini.

Man of the Match: Ayew was phenomenal. He was everywhere, involved in 22 duels while completing 8 of 9 dribbles and making three key passes. The goal was the moment, of course, but it was the richly-deserved reward for a day worth of work.


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Wilfried Zaha’s marvelous dribble down the left was deserving of an opening assist, but Palace’s right side didn’t run through the six to meet his pass.

Max Meyer found the loose ball and slid an invitation back through the box, but Jordan Ayew’s sliding effort went wide of the goal.

Ayew bossed Cresswell into a turnover but couldn’t rip a shot past Roberto.

The Irons went in front when Antonio created space and slipped through Snodgrass, who had the better of Patrick Van Aanholt and swerved home.

Van Aanholt nearly made amends but dragged his effort wide of the far post.

Kouyate equalized against his former club and declined celebration as the Selhurst Park faithful did plenty in his stead. Ayew popped a James McArthur cross onto the path of Kouyate for an unmarked finish.

Roberto denied Connor Wickham on a long solo run toward goal, a heavy touch defying the sub a wonderful moment.

Jaro Riedewald slid to deny Snodgrass’ 87th minute bid for a winner.

Ayew won it late with a classy maneuver into the 18 to dink over a fooled Roberto.

Almiron’s long-sought first Premier League goal drives Newcastle to win

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Newcastle United got back to winning ways via a first Premier League goal from Miguel Almiron.

The ex-Atlanta United man broke a 26-match scoreless streak with a second half goal as the Magpies beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

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Andy Carroll had the assist, as Newcastle rose ninth with 25 points.

Palace drops into 12th with 23 points.


Three things we learned

1. Almiron… finally: The Paraguayan regularly runs his shorts off for Newcastle, but his confidence has been so low. You wouldn’t have known it by the way he laced a side volley home for an 83rd minute winner. He had an exceptional day, passing at 93 percent while making four tackles, two interceptions, a blocked shot and a clearance.

2. Zaha neutralized: Javier Manquillo played one of the best matches of his life, the ex-Liverpool man tidy in dealing with Palace behemoth Wilfried Zaha. The oft-fouled Ivorian lost 15 of his 24 challenges, and was successful on just four of 12 dribbles.

3. Bruce takes another chance: The Magpies didn’t have Jetro Willems for the left side of a 5-3-2, and installed center back Florian Lejeune as a left back in a 4-4-2. So who played left mid? Bafflingly, it was Paul Dummett, but the Geordie big man fired in cross after cross. It was a surprise to everyone including Roy Hodgson. Kinda stunned that it worked, honestly.

Man of the Match: Manquillo is the tactician’s pick, but you can’t take the day away from the man they call Miggy.


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Miguel Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey put the first two shots on target, relatively easy work for Vicente Guaita. Florian Lejeune then zipped a shot from distance, saved by Guaita.

Palace had a single moment of danger, Wilfried Zaha forcing Martin Dubravka into a prone block and catch.

The Eagles were better to start the second half, with Dubravka charging out to stymy a James McArthur chance.

Patrick Van Aanholt nearly curled an Olimpico past Dubravka in the 66th minute, the match begging for excitement.

Dubravka made a terrific stop on Benteke when Jordan Ayew played him into the box.

Newcastle scored on perhaps its first true chance since halftime, as a long ball was knocked down by Andy Carroll and Almiron painted the side netting with his side volley.