We dropped more points against Crystal Palace this past Sunday afternoon, and we’re now painfully close to dropping out of the top four. We’ve still got a four point lead on Manchester United, but if we can lose to a team with form as bad as Crystal Palace then we can certainly drop four points between now and the end of the campaign.
We dominated possession in the first half, but were lacking that killer instinct. Mesut Özil really should have scored after combining well with Alexis Sanchez, but was unable to get much purchase on his shot as he stretched and unfortunately saw it saved.
Thankfully, Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring just before half time, with Danny Welbeck supplying the assist. The England international chipped a ball over the top of the defence, with Alexis racing onto it. He got his head on the ball and dinked it over Wayne Hennessey. 1-0.
It was more of the same in the second half, with the opening goal annoyingly not spurring us on to get a second. We had most of the possession yet again, with half chances consistently being created. We were anything but clinical though, with everyone missing opportunities.
Özil again came close in the second half, with a free kick flashing just wide of the post, while Alexis Sanchez almost scored with a headed effort from a quick free kick.
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We were eventually made to pay for the missed chances, with Palace equalising late on in the game. Yannick Bolasie – who has been struggling for form recently – got the better of Francis Coquelin, creating some space for himself at the edge of the box. His rasping shot headed straight for the bottom corner, and frustratingly Petr Cech failed to get down in time. He looked like he expected it to head towards the far post rather than down to his near post, but he still should have done better. 1-1.
Palace then looked the more likely to score again, and with every counter there was real concern. There was one counter in particular where it really looked like we were set to lose all three points, with Wilfried Zaha getting the better of Nacho Monreal. Laurent Koscielny raced out to cover, but his poor blocked clearance fell right back into the path of the pacey wide man. Zaha was left two on one with Gabriel Paulista, Emmanuel Adebayor supporting him in the box. The Brazilian put in a great last ditch tackle though, rescuing his centre-back partner and the draw.
Although Palace hadn’t been great, we really didn’t deserve all three points. The players looked totally lacking in motivation, and there was no urgency in our game whatsoever.
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We’ve yet again gone from challenging for the title to having to hold onto top four, and if we continue playing like this then Manchester United could really cause us some problems.