All of the time: Hart of the City (Ain’t No Love)

Wimbledon Guardian: Holding role: Joel Ward excelled in the defeat at Manchester City Holding role: Joel Ward excelled in the defeat at Manchester City

I could not watch Palace at Aston Villa on Boxing Day, but rest assured I went a bit manic at a family dinner table on 93 minutes after checking my phone.

Probably slightly more restrained than the travelling support in Birmingham, but bending the rules of polite Christmas etiquette.

But suddenly, before the euphoria of our late winner had died down, Manchester City seemed to come around quicker than a clumsy Yannick Bolasie step over.

The game had all the markings of a tired thrashing – despite, or perhaps because of, the Eagles’ heroic exertions at Villa Park.

Somehow, that did not happen.

Manuel Pellegrini accused Palace of parking the bus, and to some extent we did just that – we defended admirably at times. But the insinuation is that we simply kept City at bay and never ventured forward.

Just ask Jason Puncheon, Joel Ward or Joe Hart's face. I'm sorry but that’s patently fibbing, Manuel.

We may have lost, but a bit more respect for Palace’s achievement wouldn’t go amiss, considering this was the second time the Manchester club has scored so few goals at the Etihad in all competitions this season; the last occasion being their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in October.

Not to mention that we matched their shots on target, with England’s number one goalkeeper coming to their rescue several times.

At the back, Danny Gabbidon and Damien Delaney were monstrous, playing with grit and intelligence as well as tenacity.

During his long absence I’d actually forgotten just how much Jonny Parr is preferable to Dean Moxey, with far better positioning, reliability and awareness.

He covered Jesus Navas capably as well as bombing forward pluckily, and it’s really heartening to have the Norwegian back in the team.

Apart from our impressive defensive organisation and cover, with both Mile Jedinak and Joel Ward having brilliant holding games, our work on the flanks was also a joy to behold.

Puncheon had the sort of showing we've been waiting for since he joined the club on loan from Southampton.

Against Newcastle he looked scared of the ball, distracted and dispassionate. Against City he plundered and fought, involved in so much good passing, dribbling and shooting it was as though he finally felt the stage fitting to show us what he can do.

Despite the two recent high-level performances, Palace obviously need new signings in January to be able to build on (or even maintain) our current level.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Reinforcements: Tony Pulis is in for a busy January

Yet I was quite interested to read Tony Pulis once again reiterating after the game that we need reinforcements.

He constantly repeats this same statement after every game, win or lose. It makes me believe he might be preparing us for some serious upheaval – beyond the expected areas that most blatantly need shoring up.

Then again, maybe it's directed at the board; extra messages to get the cheque books at the ready and warn the bank manager.

It certainly suggests we’re not going to have a quiet start to 2014.


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