Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bournemouth pay the penalty - twice!

You want  to get the decisions when your team is involved with penalty claims at either end but my mind always expects a negative outcome in such cases when AFCB are involved, and they certainly did not get any joy from having Zaha seeking to influence decision's Palace's way. Still, Bournemouth for their first goal and I guess things were all equal in the end with a 2-2 scoreline.
A good job that Begovic practised a few of these pre-match.
It is not often you get two penalty claims against your team in a game and Kevin Friend will not be popular next time he turns up in front of Bournemouth fans. I do give him credit for seeking  the attention of the assistant referee on the second penalty claim, but I'm not sure that the assistant referee told Kevin Friend anything he did not already know. At the time, I felt the second penalty was the most likely to be not given as Daniels rarely mis-times his tackles, and made what I thought was a valid attempt to get the ball. Replays show that he did touch Zaha's foot on the way to the ball, but I still felt Zaha was looking for the option to go over if Daniels made a challenge.
The replays show that the first penalty was perhaps even lees of a penalty. Begovic I thought had put his arms out and caught Zaha on his way through. But look at that incident back on replay and we see that Zaha had already been going down before he actually ran into Begovic's arms to make the contact. It is very hard to call such decisions these days as players want to win penalties and referees are under so much pressure to get the decision right. Another annoying aspect of this penalty though was that Begovic picked up another yellow card.

It was a real kick in the teeth though to also see the very last minute shot of the game from Wilson being blocked by Schlupp's arms and the referee didn't even give it a second's thought, as he had already made his mind up that he was blowing for full time.

A point at Palace is hard when every tackle is a penalty!

Match Report
Crystal Palace 2 v 2 AFCB
9 December 2017
Attendance: 24,823

AFCB take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
What a strange game this was. Bournemouth were well in control when a swiftly taken corner move from the training ground led to a clear shot for Jermain Defoe to open the scoring, and even when Wilfried Zaha was running at Bournemouth's defence Palace did not look like scoring. Unfortunately. Begovic wanted to make sure and Zaha won the penalty to get Palace in the game, while a second Palace goal from Scott Dann, who else - he always scores against AFCB - should have given Palace a half time lead, but Defoe's remarkable lofted chip made it 2-2 at the break. Bournemouth looked to have secured a point in injury time, but Zaha was up to his old tricks and Daniels almost lost the game with a last ditch tackle on him. Justice was done though when a greedy Benteke took the spot kick and Begovic saved it t leave the score 2-2.  
The Christmas spirit was going well at Selhurst Park
until the penalties started to get awarded.
Bournemouth only made one change with Steve Cook replacing the suspended Adam Smith, while Harry Artur made it back on the bench. 

Crystal Palace made three changes with Ward, Kelly ad McCarthy dropping out of the starting line up and Fosu-Mensah, Cabaye and Tomkins coming into the team.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.
Bournemouth and Crystal Palace go all out for a win. 
Bournemouth were under pressure from the start with Jeffrey Schlupp firing over from distance. Benteke then had a chance at the near post but headed wide. 

Defoe did his best to get a header just wide of the target from a right wing cross, but after some good work from King to win a corner Defoe would get another chance. This time Surman took it short to Stanislas who played it back for Surman to pick out a centrally -laced Defoe who slotted past Seproni from about 12 yards to make it one-nil on 10 minutes. Josh King had illegally held Schlupp back from making a challenge but the referee had not seen and nor had I at the time.

Palace were undeterred with Benteke forcing a save from Begovic off his knew, before Aké made a strong block from Townsend. From the Palace corner Sakho missed almost a sitter on the line with Surman in attendance, but Bournemouth scrambled the ball away. 

King was working hard and almost got to Sakho at the back. Cabaye then made a great tackle on Defoe to deny him a striking chance when he was almost through. Sakho had played Defoe onside, because he was injured and had to be replaced by Scott Dann on 25 minutes. 
Tomkins then fouled King and picked up a yellow card. Tomkins later had a shot from distance that went wide, even if the offside should have gone up earlier. Milivojevic then went in the book for chopping Fraser down. Stanislas almost broke through but Speroni came out quickly to deny a chance. Stanislas did get a shot off a moment later but it was deflected right at the keeper. 

The game to a big turn when a long ball was headed on by Benteke to Zaha to chase. While Akee looked to have got across, Begovic came out to make sure and Zaha went down. A penalty was awarded and Milivojevic stuck it away. Zaha left his leg trailing and looked like he was already going down before Begovic made contact.

It was only three minutes later when the game changed completely and a Palace corner  was kept alive by Benteke and then Cabaye who put a low cross in from the right and Scott Dann popped up at the far post to make it 2-1.

Bournemouth were rocked but as half time approached Lewis Cook put a speculative ball forward from half way towards Defoe who not only get their first, ahead of Scott Dann, but with one bounce looped his shot over Speroni and in to the top left corner to make it 2-2. It was an absolute beauty!
Half time dancing at Palace.
Second half
Bournemouth came out early and they soon had Palace on the back foot with Surman hitting a shot at Speroni. But Begovic soon also had to make a save from Rubens Loftus-Cheek.

Stanislas was starting to see more of the ball and had a shot deflected. He then found Defoe who shot wide just in front of Dann. Bournemouth were not getting the decisions at this point.

Howe changed things to bring Ibe on for Stanislas on 65 minute and Palace too Cabaye off and brought McArthur on. Ibe did his usual in running into trouble straight away, but a few moments later he had his head down and drilled a fierce shot that Speroni could only push away.

Lewis Cook then clipped Zaha and the Palace forward lost his cool and went for Lewis Cook. It was a yellow for Zaha.

Palace were getting closer when Benteke headed a free kick on to Scott Dann who shot over from six yards. Townsend was then subbed for Sakho to come on with 12 minutes to go. Ibe was fouled by McArthur who got booked before Callum Wilson replaced Defoe with 10 minutes left.

Benteke was then booked for a foul on Lewis Cook. Palace were still mounting a challenge and Loftus-Cheek has a low shot saved by Begovic at his left post. Ibe made a terrible mistake playing the ball back towards the D when he could have cleared, but Milivojevic finally put the chance wide.

Afobe replaced King for the last three minutes. The passing became more erratic and with five minutes of added time it was Bournemouth that were hanging on. A long ball up to Zaha had Steve Cook back peddling and while he blocked a first shot from the number 11, Daniels came in with a stronger challenge to put the ball out for what looked like a corner, but Kevin Friend pointed to the spot. I couldn't believe it and nor could the Bournemouth players as Daniels looked to have made a clean attempt to get the ball. Yet, on Match of the Day's replay we did see that Daniels had touched Zaha's foot first.

Benteke was not the appointed penalty taker but he stepped up anyway having not scored all season. So it was something he'll have to explain when he saw his spot kick saved by Begovic, low to his right.

Bournemouth were not finished. They even had a shout for a penalty themselves after Wilson tried to get a shot off in the box and Schlupp had his hands up that blocked the shot.
Match line up for AFCB.
Palace possibly deserved one penalty, but two was a rather fortunate for them. Bournemouth's players were adamant that neither should have been a penalty kick, but you are not going to win every decision when you make last ditch challenges in the box. Zaha knows to go down when he feels the challenge and he was impressive in playing the victim. But Bournemouth's defenders know he would do that, and getting into those situations in the first place is the thing that should concern Howe. Still, Bournemouth showed some good moments and Defoe finally showed us how he is a goalscorer that only needs a slight chance to get his goals. While three points would have been handy from this game, it is a good point against an improving Palace side.

AFCB escape with a draw.
Bournemouth players surround the referee after the match.
AFCB Ratings
Begovic 8, Francis 5, S Cook 6, Aké 6, Daniels 6, Fraser 6, L Cook 7, Surman 7, Stanislas 6, King 7, Defoe 9

Crystal Palace
Speroni, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Sakho (Dann), Schlupp, Townsend (Sako), Cabaye (McArthur), Milivojevic (Loftus-Cheek), Zaha, Benteke

Palace Subs

Hennessey, van Aanholt, Dann, McArthur, Sako, Kelly, Puncheon

Referee Watch: Kevin Friend 2/10 - Far too many free kicks and penalties awarded. It was a well contested game but seven yellow cards was excessive and players were winning free kicks for just hitting the ground - unfortunately, Zaha did most of his falling over in AFCB's penalty box.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

What's the best way to get at Crystal Palace?

Bournemouth take on Crystal Palace knowing that a win could push the Cherries well up the table, and yet the Eagles know they have to improve their home record if they are to get out of their situation. Much of Palace's problems have been of their own making. But they are starting to get it together and under Roy Hodgson they are getting their belief back.
Is time up on Crystal Palace's Premier League journey?
The first thing Bournemouth will aim to do is stop Wilfried Zaha from terrorising them. He is the quality in Palace's team and keeping him quite is not going to be down to one Bournemouth player but several. But shackling Zaha alone won't be enough. Yohan Cabaye is another player who can find gas and the crosses of Townsend are just perfect for Christian Benteke if he times his runs well. The aerial battle is something that I expect Hodgson to target, and it is as well that Steve Cook is likely to come back into the Bournemouth side. Bournemouth will need all the height they have it's just a shame that Tyrone Mings is not ready yet to play. We know how good Scott Dann is in the air as well and even if Crystal Palace find it hard to play fluent football they will get set-pieces.

So Bournemouth have to defend well and this season we have seen them improve at keeping set-pieces out. The form of Nathan Aké and the catching ability of Begovic has added some security, but even in recent games some of the defensive headed clearances went virtually know where in Bournemouth's own box. Clearing the lines was a problem all right and it led to Charlie Austin's equaliser, so the Cherries need to do some work on that.

I also believe that Bournemouth will get chances though against this Palace defence that has let in 25 goals from 15 games. But from their last five games, Palace have only conceded four goals. So, there is improvement there for the Eagles.

Meanwhile, AFCB are not scoring goals in any great quantities away from home. The best away result remains the 1-2 away win at Stoke. Getting a second goal in an away match has been a rare event and Bournemouth need to see a sharper and more aggressive desire to get goals than they have been showing if they want to win games.

Possible AFCB line up for Crystal Palace game.
AFCB Subs: Boruc, Simpson, Gosling, Ibe, Pugh, Afobe, C Wilson

Friday, 8 December 2017

Are Crystal Palace on the up?

I am a bit anxious that the feel good factor is re-emerging at Crystal Palace. This last week they have climbed to 18th in the table with a draw against WBA and talk of a new expanded Selhurst Park stadium befitting of a Premier League club.

AFCB go to Selhurst Park this Saturday.
Their problem is will they play well enough this season to retain their status? Well, Palace are past masters at picking up points when they have to. The win they had against Chelsea is proof that they are a far better team than their position shows in the table and while it hasn't all been going well for them this season with the earliest managerial sacking in Premier League history, Roy Hodgson has them organised again and playing on the front foot.

Where they still have a weakness is surely in defence. Patrick van Aanholdt is still getting used to the English game having gone on loads of loans and struggling at Smderland before his move to Palace, Mamadou Sakho has not been as influential as he was at the end of last season, while Scott Dann has been out of form and Jeffrey Schlupp is still making his way at the club. Hodgson will make them more settled though at the back and if he gets the foundation right back there, we know that they have pace and skill in abundance further forward.
Wilfiried Zaha and Andros Townsend could fit into many Premier League sides and the big man Christian Benteke is back now, even if he is not in goalscoring form yet. Jason Puncheon is now the captain and no doubt he has been feeling the pressure with the start the Eagles have made.

I think palace just need to play games to improve now. They have strong players in Rubens Loftus-Cheek and Yohan Cabaye in the middle and once they get an understanding of each others game they should pick up. But a set back now could really hinder their progress and of course do wonders for AFCB. It's a big game in how the bottom six might unfold and Eddie Howe has to get this across to his players without making them frightened of going out and playing their best football. Crystal Palace are on the up but AFCB can do something about that.

Crystal Palace Home Form

AFCB Away Form

Rival Lines: Hodgson - "the right man at the right time," says The Eagles Beak

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Crystal Palace v AFCB
Blogger Interview: The Eagles Beak
Twitter: @Theeaglesbeak

Talking to a Crystal Palace fan is a little easier than it might have been a few weeks ago. They are starting to believe that they are not the worst team in the Premier league and with players coming back and Roy Hodgson getting a tune out of what was a disjointed side. Sam at the Eagles Beak is quietly confident of things turning around.

CC: Did you think that Frank de Boer's ill-fated period in charge says more about the board at Palace, who took a risk with an untried foreign manager in the Premier League and yet didn't have the courage to stick with their convictions?

TEB: There were many more factors to de Boer’s dismissal than were obvious to the naked eye. The results were an obvious stumbling point; they were not good enough but the performances were gradually improving and we were not as bad as many suggested. The players also had a problem with de Boer behind the scenes: apparently he showed off in training and senior members of the squad disliked his approach. While this seems extremely petty on the squadms behalf, if you’re in a predicament such as we were and the relationship between coaches and players ceases to exist, he needs to go.

The board clearly made a mistake in appointing de Boer. They were providing a squad far more familiar to Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew with a very progressive perfectionist whose own mistake was his insistence on an immediate revolution rather than making gradual tweaks. The general consensus is that his time was up.

CC: Were you pleased when Roy Hodgson was made Crystal Palace manager or do you think there were better options out there?

TEB: Hodgson’s appointment was as underwhelming as Allardyce’s and that turned out perfectly. Perhaps from a neutral’s perspective it seems like a risk but the former England manager has gone about his work well, going back to basics and getting the best out of a squad that was previously underperforming. The ‘look how far we’ve come’ narrative is overplayed by Palace fans but Hodgson - being a Palace fan as a kid - ‘gets’ the journey this club has been on and that has come across in his press conferences. He speaks well about the club which bodes well with Palace fans and has made the transition from ‘underwhelming appointment’ to ‘we have the right man at the right time’ far easier.

CC: November was a half decent month for Palace, but do you feel the team is functioning much better now?

TEB: Palace are picking up points where we would not have done under de Boer, such as the victories against Chelsea and Stoke City. There has been frustration that other points have not been picked up under Hodgson, such as the two 2-2 draws against West Ham and Everton in which the side dominated each game and all four goals were very avoidable. It’s a reflection on how poor the rest of the bottom four or five are that we have managed to catch up so quickly, though.

CC: You've scored two goals at home in each of the last two matches at Selhurst Park, so do you feel you have the goal power to get out of trouble?

TEB: This is the only worry with Palace. We relied on Christian Benteke’s goals last season and cannot rely on current top scorer, Wilfried Zaha, who is just going through a period of good form in front of goal. Everton, West Ham and Brighton could easily have been out of sight had good chances been scored and our goal difference could be the difference between survival and relegation.

CC: What have you made of Ruben Loftus-Cheek?

TEB: He’s doing well. His England performances have excessively increased his reputation but he has not quite performed the same for Palace, despite a few good games. He was the best player under de Boer, playing centrally and given license to go from box to box. Under Hodgson, he’s played a wider role and it hasn’t helped.

CC: What was it like when Sakho got that 90+2 minute winner against Stoke City?

TEB: That was a great feeling. It was the first time Palace had scored a 90+ minute winning goal at home since 1998 so it was a sign that the luck at Selhurst might be changing.

CC: Do you think you are getting the best out of Christian Benteke?

TEB: No. He was injured from September until mid-November which hasn’t helped but for him not to score a goal this season, after his heroics last campaign, is disappointing. He didn’t fit de Boer’s style of play and still looks unfit in fairness so we are expecting more from him.

CC: Wayne Hennessy and Scott Dann both missed out against WBA. Are you concerned with all the injuries that Palace seem to get this season?

TEB: Injuries have been a common theme for a few years and it is unclear whether that is pure bad luck or a deeper problem within the medical department. It doesn’t help, particularly when the squad is very thin. Hodgson was only able to name five subs last week.

CC: How will Palace set up against Bournemouth?

TEB: Two banks of four, Zaha playing off Benteke.

CC: Are you optimistic of finishing above at least three sides this season?

TEB: We’re quietly confident. There are some really poor sides this season - a result of the financial divide in the league - which could either play in our favour if we improve or could see us fall into that category ourselves.

CC: So, Crystal Palace are finding their feet and even some goals at Selhurst Park. They have also been looking to the future with a new ground plan announced in the last week. Another win and they'll be out of the bottom three. Things may lean towards this not being a good time to play the Eagles, but AFCB have also had a rough patch and are looking to add to their away wins and compared to the fixtures coming up, Palace doesn't seem such a bad place to visit this Saturday.

You can read my answers to the Eagles Beak's questions by visiting the Eagles Beak site.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Dropping points from winning positions

There was a stat that I was not too keen to see after the draw with Southampton. Bournemouth have apparently dropped more points in home games from winning positions than any other team except for WBA this season, according to reporters on the BBC. To drop points to Man City and Southampton at home having had the lead in those games has not crippled Bournemouth's season though, and they were not the worst performances that team has had this season.
Simon Francis talks with Fraser Forster after the Southampton game.
The match against the Saints was not a disappointing result or a game that was thrown away, it was a point recovered by Southampton. For Bournemouth to have been ahead in this game was a positive and I think vitally necessary for them to have got something out of the game. The problem has not been so much in losing games from winning positions, as in not getting enough leads in home games in the first place.

In fact, getting good performances from the outset is something I've been banging the drum about for some time. It may be that we are starting to see this happen now. The change in personnel in the last game did change the approach and Fraser and Stanislas were good at trying to force the pace on the wings. Southampton still attacked well in the first 20 minutes and there is a hesitancy that remains in Bournemouth's play in the early part of games.


I lost count at the amount of times when Charlie Daniels looked for someone to throw the ball to from the touchline in the opening half hour and struggled to let go of the ball. All that hesitancy can only put players on edge, but the players have to move into spaces and being decisive and knowing that you are on the same wavelength as colleagues is crucial if you want to retain possession.

Bournemouth will have other games where they lose leads but at least they are starting to take games to the opposition. This is a better way to approach games that trying to make comebacks as we have seen in the last week with games such as the Arsenal v Man Utd match. Getting a goal up should help the players and settle them, and the way Bournemouth kept Southampton out for the first 15 minutes of the second half we might have hoped that all would end well. But AFCB have only scored twice in a game or more in two matches at home so far this season (Brighton and Huddersfield) and that may be the real stat that needs to be addressed. 

ASK Fans' Match Preview by Cherry Chimes - Crystal Palace v AFCB

How do AFCB get Defoe's game going?

Jermain Defoe has made eight starts for the Cherries and four sub appearances, but his single goal tally is far behind what he and perhaps Eddie Howe would have expected at this stage of the season. Defoe was looking like a reasonable prospect to go to Russia next year but his World Cup hopes are hanging by a thread now, and he needs not only games but goals to get himself back into the reckoning.
Jermain is still seeking his second goal of the season.
Eddie Howe gave Defoe the opportunity to get himself back on the score sheet and he 69 minutes to try and get that goal against Southampton. There was only one real moment when Defoe looked like he might score though when he deflected a shot from Adam Smith and Fraser Forster made a great reaction save. They say chances for forwards come in bunches and Defoe is just being very unlucky in front of goal. One chance per game though tells me that he is not getting the ball in the right areas to hurt defences as his movement and speed looks as good as ever.3

While Bournemouth can swap between forwards to find a solution that moves the team forward, there is no time for Defoe to be on the bench if he wants to get a recall to the England team. He and Callum Wilson would no doubt love to be on that plane and yet bot are searching for consistent form which seems elusive. Eddie Howe must back his players though to get it right and with so many games coming in December he must hope that things turnaround for Defoe especially as he was brought into the team for his finishing last summer and he hasn't yet moved the team on.

Defoe needs the ball in the box and he needs to be fed in when one on one with the last defender. Getting into such positions seem beyond him and the team. I looked at what Charlie Austin managed to do up front for Southampton in the game against Bournemouth and I have to say that Charlie created a lot of his chances for himself, but Defoe is still not holding onto the ball for long whenever he gets a pass and perhaps he needs to start trying just to run at defenders when he is given the ball. 

What happened yesterday?
Apologies for only posting one article yesterday. I was at the AFCB Business Christmas dinner along with many other local businesses and charities. Rob Mitchell reminded everyone that it was an anniversary of sorts as at this time in 2009 the club had just played Notts County in the FA Cup and were about to take on Shrewsbury when it launched AFC Business. In those days the club had an attendance of about 5000 and season ticket holders numbered 2000, a bit different from today with gates of 11,000 and 7000 season ticket holders that is capped because the stadium is at its capacity.

Here are some photos of yesterday's dinner. Jeff Mostyn club chairman was in attendance.
The event was sponsored by Hill Osborne chartered accountants.
No we didn't get the presents under the tree!
The tree aagn.
Rob Mitchell's address.
Cherry Chimes was on Table 3.
There were 12 tables set out in the Top Floor Restaurant
 if my memory serves me right.
ASK Fans' Match Preview by Cherry Chimes - Crystal Palace v AFCB
Cherry Chimes also answers the questions from Crystal Palace blog The Eagles Beak