Opinion: Ugly, but job done

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Giovani Lo Celso
Ian Walton/Pool via Getty Images

The instant Giroud rounded Patricio at Stamford Bridge, you realised it was going to be an OK day. Never more than that, because irrespective of formation or form (only Norwich have been worse than Palace since the restart), our lads were never imposing in this one. Palace got most of the 50-50 balls, were aggressive when we had possession, and generally took the front foot for long periods throughout.

Kane was ruthless in the one chance he got, as Son sprung the ball free and LoCelso threaded a perfect little through ball for Kane to finish with. Other than that, Lucas had one good chance at a volley and another when he split the defence and almost stripped Guaita with enough angle to score, and Toby on a headed corner, but that was about it. Their goal was the result of some horrorshow defending as no fewer than four Spurs defenders were there to watch Schlupp find the top of the net.

Other than that lapse, I thought we defended fairly well, with the Zaha v Aurier duel the highlight of the game—and it was basically a draw as Serge gave as good as he got. Dier added little today, Winks and LoCelso were generally pretty static, both Son and particularly Sissoko had a mare of an afternoon, losing possession constantly.

The substitutes offered little but they were on just to avoid a fatigue-induced mistake.
So we can somewhat skip the gruesome watch of the FA Cup final and remark that whatever this season was or wasn’t (we were 4th since Jose’s takeover, and 2nd since the restart) one thing is clear. Four years on the trot ahead of them, and we all know but for a post-Battle of Bridge letdown, it would be five.

There will be time for simmer transfer decisions/speculation soon enough. Bye, bye Jan—you wore the shirt proud these past 8 seasons. I can’t imagine we can rise to the level of Liverpool or Man City by September—and certainly not both—so the three trophies we will be competing for will not include the two that Poch always said were the ones that mattered. No mind, in Jose’s first full season any silverware will be the goal.

After the shock beginning, and given the two crucial injuries, things worked out about as well as they were ever going to. The style of play, the depth, the defensive problems, the need for a playmaker and back-up striker are all issues to be joined over the next few months. It will start again sooner than we think. And while our voices may still be limited to our couches, we will be present in spirit in hopes that this dip will soon be followed by resurgence.

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