Crystal Palace beat their South East London rivals Charlton at The Valley for the first time on a league fixture for the first time since 1968. A goal from South African midfield Kagisho Dikgacoi from a poorly defended corner was enough to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory.
It wasn’t as simple as it may sound for the away side, as Charlton created a number of chances but failed to convert, most notably from Ricardo Fuller and a Ben Hamer header as the keeper came up for the dying seconds of the game. The incident that made the Charlton fans most bitter was a goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips after a Leon Cort flick on that was wrongly ruled offside when the score was still 0-0.
The cracks can be glossed over thousands of time, the ‘we were unlucky’ comment can be passed around and the officials can be blamed, but the facts still remain. Charlton have not performed in the last two fixtures. Mainly due to individuals not performing, but Chris Powell’s team selections and tactics haven’t helped.
Crystal Palace’s strengths highlighted where The Addicks are going wrong. Wilfred Zaha and Yannick Bolasie teared the Charlton defence apart with great pace and trickery down the wings. Those two players were the difference in the overall game and the reason Palace dominated possession so much. Charlton were forced to play long ball football, and with Ramage and Jedinak limiting Kermorgant’s threat brilliantly at the back, it was often a case of lumping the ball up only to lose it straight away.
Johnnie Jackson and Bradley Pritchard have not been up to scratch this season, partly through no fault of their own. They are not wingers. Neither have the pace or trickery that the likes of Zaha and Bolasie do. Time and time again, the ball is lost or chances aren’t created because of the weakness of the wings. Jackson has the support of Wiggins, and it was evident how ineffective he became without the Welshman’s ability down the flank when he was forced off with an injury that has caused concern.
Starting with out and out wingers is a must. It was no coincidence that Charlton played their best football, all be it in a 10 minute spell, when Danny Green came on. An inconsistent and frustrating player, Green has a talented player hiding away inside him, and if he can replicate his performance last night consistently, that player will stop being so shy. A similar last 10 minutes happened at Forest, with Salim Kerkar coming on, creating a goal and almost scoring one himself. We have a number of wingers at the club: Green, Kerkar, Wagstaff, Cook. They’re all talented. Two of the four must start at Derby.
Both Jackson and Pritchard were fantastic players last season, and I don’t doubt their ability, but bring them inside. A centre midfield paring of Jackson alongside Stephens or Hollands would be excellent. Pritchard has shown he has a lot to learn, but against Birmingham and Leicester, he showed his talent. He should be an impact player off the bench at the moment, but not forgotten.
It’s early days, and anything can happen. I think we’ll be safe and in no danger of relegation at any point, but things need to change.