James Tomkins

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.

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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.

Southampton held by Crystal Palace

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Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday in an even, tight battle on the South Coast.

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James Tomkins gave Palace the lead at the start of the second half but Danny Ings equalized late on as the Eagles held on to grab a point against the surging Saints.

With the point Southampton have 22 for the season, while Palace have 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. Peak away day Palace: This was a vintage away day display from Palace, who scored from a set piece, looked dangerous on the counter and solid in defense. Until Martin Kelly’s poor back pass they didn’t look likely to concede and in the end they held on for a point. Palace’s away form has always ben superb and that was no different at St Mary’s.

2. VAR debate rumbles on: Wilfried Zaha and Palace were livid at a goal being disallowed in the first half as his armpit was offside as he crosses for Max Meyer to slot home. There have been so many marginal offside calls in the PL over the festive period and although the debate over whether the offside rule should be tweaked rumbles on, you can’t argue with the technology proving players are offside.

3. Ings leads Saints’ charge: He now has 11 goals in his last 13 appearances and 12 for the season, as only Jamie Vardy has more Premier League goals than Ings this season. Rested against Chelsea on Boxing Day, he came back into the team and went close on several occasions before slotting home to grab a point for his hometown club. Ings is on fire and he is the difference between Saints staying up or going down this season.

Man of the Match: Vicente Guaita – Palace’s goalkeeper made a string of saves in the second half to deny Saints and grab a point for his side.


VAR chalked off a goal for Palace early on as Zaha dazzled down the left and crossed for Max Meyer to finish but the replays showed that Zaha’s armpit was offside and the goal didn’t stand.

Southampton grew into the game as James Tomkins cleared brilliantly with Che Adams lurking, then Jan Bednarek couldn’t convert at the back post.

Jordan Ayew had a half chance which Alex McCarthy saved easily, as the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break.

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At the start of the second half Palace took the lead as Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was on the money and Tomkins sent home a header off the bar and in.

Southampton had plenty of the ball in the second half but struggled to break Palace down as Cedric‘s header was close but then Martin Kelly gave Saints a gift. His back pass was latched onto by Ings who slotted home to make it 1-1, as Southampton’s first shot on target was successful.

Substitute Moussa Djenepo then went on a mazy run into the box which ended in him curling a shot on goal but it was too close to Vicente Guaita who tipped it over.

Ings then flicked a header on goal at the near post which Guaita saved and he flicked another over as Saints laid siege to the Palace goal late on.

Guaita then saved James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick and Milivojevic then slid in to deny Ings late on as the points were shared.

Watford, Crystal Palace play to feisty draw

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Watford and Crystal Palace played out a 0-0 draw a Vicarage Road on Saturday as the hosts squandered several chances to pick up their first home win of the season.

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Wilfried Zaha was involved in plenty of hefty of challenges, for and against, as Palace huffed and puffed but didn’t really get going in attack. Gerard Deulofeu and Ismaila Sarr both went close for Watford, who had new manager Nigel Pearson watching on from the stands.

With the point Watford remain bottom of the team and have nine points for the season, while Palace are in seventh place on 22 points.

3 things we learned

1. Pearson already having an impact: This was so much better from Watford. Similar to their narrow defeat at Leicester in midweek,  they looked compact and solid defensively and Deulofeu was a menace underneath Deeney. Pearson watched on from the directors box tentatively throughout, as caretaker Hayden Mullins oversaw a solid display which should have yielded three points.

2. Rattled Zaha targeted: Wilfried Zaha and Watford mean one thing: Fouls. Zaha was clearly targeted by the Hornets and he went down on several occasions all game long, but was booked for a foul of his own and to his disbelief his calls for fouls were often overlooked. There is previous here as Zaha was the target for the home fans and players, and Roy Hodgson did his best to calm the Ivorian winger down. Eventually he did calm down, but he was rattled. After his fine displays in recent wins, Zaha was far from his best.

3. Sarr adds cutting edge: Palace had to bring in Jairo Reidewald for Jeffrey Schlupp at half time at left back to try and stop Sarr’s driving runs down the right flank. He came close to scoring to add to his goal at Southampton last weekend, and his power and pace perfectly complimented Delofeu’s trickery. If Watford can stay solid defensively, Deulofeu, Deeney and Sarr will give plenty of defenses problems.

Man of the Match:


Both teams went close early as Troy Deeney‘s scuffed effort was cleared by James Tomkins, James McArthur sent a volley wide of the far post and then Ismaila Sarr’s shot was deflected wide at the other end.

Watford took the game to Palace early on as Pearson’s arrival as their new manager on Friday, even if he wasn’t in the dugout, had an impact. Gerard Deulofeu was popping up time and time again and his deliveries from set pieces caused Palace problems.

Once again in a game between Palace and Watford it was Wilfried Zaha who was at the center of things as the players piled in after he was caught by several defenders as he was on the floor, then he was booked moments later before Craig Cathcart also received a yellow for fouling Luka Milivojevic.

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Watford pinned Palace back in the second half as they peppered the goal and Deulofeu raced clear before smashing just wide.

The Spaniard then crossed for Sarr but his effort was saved by Vicente Guaita as the game opened up in the closing stages with Ayew firing just over on the counter and then Gary Cahill twice denying Sarr with brilliant blocks.

Andre Gray shanked a shot goalwards after more good work from Sarr, while Deeney went down in the box in stoppage time and wanted a penalty kick, as tempers flared late on with Zaha involved again.

In the end the two teams canceled each other out with Palace lackluster in attack and Watford disappointed not to take three points to lift themselves closer to safety.

Klopp relieved as Liverpool beat Palace

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Jurgen Klopp was a relieved man as Liverpool left Selhurst Park with a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Premier League leaders were pegged back late on by Wilfried Zaha and it looked like they would draw, but Roberto Firmino scored a late winner and thanks to a poor finish from Zaha in stoppage time they secured a 12th win in their first 13 Premier League games of the season.

Speaking after the game, Klopp was happy his team came up with the goods and dug deep. But he admitted they had got away with one.

“I’m fine with it. When you finish the game on the up then it is okay. They [Crystal Palace] worked hard, I can only imagine what Roy Hodgson is feeling like because they would have deserved a point today. But we won the game and it was deserved today as well,” Klopp said. “We had today to fight with different things. We weren’t compact enough. Our distances between the full backs and midfielders, the half spaces, were too big. The set pieces were really dangerous and gave them the time to go there. It was a tough job to do today and at the end of the day I am happy with the result and big parts of the performances as well.”

Mohamed Salah didn’t feature as he has only just returned from injury, as Klopp said he will have to continue to nurse the Egyptian winger back into the team. Sadio Mane stepped up to lead Liverpool and Roberto Firmino bagged the winner as the ball fell perfectly to him in the box after a scrappy effort from Virgil Van Dijk, as Liverpool found a way in attack.

At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool’s defense looked shaky and was saved by VAR as it ruled out James Tomkins‘ first half goal for a foul by Jordan Ayew on Dejan Lovren despite the Liverpool defender going down easily.

Sadio Mane popped up with another goal to put Liverpool ahead and his display was a major positive, but overall this was another game where Liverpool didn’t play to their best but ground out a win.

They sit eight points clear atop the Premier League table and they now things are going their way right now.

Klopp’s face at the final whistle said it all, as Liverpool roll on.

Liverpool strike late (again) to beat Crystal Palace

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Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s Premier League leaders secured another dramatic late victory.

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Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead after VAR drama denied Crystal Palace an opener, but Wilfried Zaha equalized late on as it looked like Liverpool would drop points.

But Roberto Firmino then popped up to secure the win for Liverpool as the leaders make it 12 wins from 13 to start the season and remain unbeaten.


3 things we learned

1. Mane delivers again: Sadio Mane popped up to put Liverpool ahead and he was a constant threat, especially in the second half. Everything they did well going forward, Mane was at the heart of it. The Senegalese forward stepped up with Mohamed Salah out for Liverpool, and proved that he is their main man this season.

2. VAR drama takes center stage: Yes, Jordan Ayew pushed Dejan Lovren, but the Liverpool defender made the most of the contact. VAR was used to rule out James Tomkins‘ goal in the first half and in slow-motion the push looked clear, but in real-time there was a reason the foul wasn’t given. This decision was very harsh on Palace and Liverpool will be very relieved.

3. Liverpool grinding it out: Jurgen Klopp’s side put in their worst display of the season and they still won. They have a great habit of grinding out wins this season and they did it once again. But even after Firmino’s late winner they gave up a big chance which Zaha skied. Liverpool shouldn’t have won this game, but they did. That is why their are the champions elect.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – He stood tall in attack without Salah and even though many of his Liverpool teammates failed to perform, he did. Mane is the man of the season for Liverpool.


After a tight start to the game Palace had the first big chance of the game but Jordan Ayew flicked just wide.

Ayew then cleared brilliantly just as it looked like Liverpool would finish off Virgil Van Dijk‘s downward header.

All hell broke loose at the other end of the pitch just before half time as James Tomkins thought he had given Palace the lead but VAR ruled out his goal for a foul by Jordan Ayew on Dejan Lovren. The home fans and players were livid as Lovren went down easily but there was a clear push. No goal as Liverpool survived a huge scare.

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Mane was put clean through by Jordan Henderson at the start of the second but he put his effort wide.

Moments later Mane made no mistake.

A ball into the box saw him hit his shot into the ground and although Vicente Guiata got a hand to his shot, the ball hit the post, rolled across the goaline, hit the other past and just squirmed past Patrick Van Aanholt who was trying to clear it.

Palace had a few shots from distance which troubled Liverpool but they became more vulnerable on the break as Mane and Lovren almost got on the end of a ball across the box, then Guaita denied Roberto Firmino on the break.

Former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke came on and had a big impact as his acrobatic effort flew wide.

Benteke was then involved as Townsend teed up Zaha who equalized to send Selhurst Park as it looked like Palace would deny Liverpool victory.

But then, just as they’ve done all season, Liverpool found a way to win when they weren’t at their best.

Van Dijk’s effort caused havoc in the box and the ball eventually found Firmino who slotted home after an almighty scrap. Cue wild scenes in the away end.

In stoppage time Palace almost equalized as Zaha skied an effort over the bar, but Liverpool held on to make it 12 wins from 13.