Selhurst Park was always going to be a tough ground to take any points home from and many of us would have been happy with a point on Saturday, particularly when Adama Traore’s cross was diverted into the net by Pape Souare to level the scores with ten minutes to go.
Unfortunately, it was not to be and the manner of Crystal Palace’s winning goal was incredibly frustrating for the players, manager and supporters. Jordan Amavi losing possession near his own box was naïve whilst Brad Guzan should be experienced enough to know that rolling the ball out from the back isn’t the best idea with so little time remaining in the game. With this in mind, I would like to see Tim Sherwood’s men play slightly differently in order to avoid conceding a similar goal against Sunderland.
The footballing world has become obsessed with playing football in a style similar to Barcelona’s, where endless possession in midfield is used to wear down the opposition’s defence and find the net. Paul Lambert’s Villa team even tried this approach last Christmas but the tedious nature of the sideways passing on the half-way line sent many to sleep and had the manager believing that we had played like the Catalans. In the first three games of the season, the Villans have enjoyed too much possession in their own half, with Brad Guzan opting to roll the ball out to his defence on many occasions – and it was a decision that cost the team on Saturday.
I would like to see the Villans dominate in terms of possession in the opposition’s half, with players such as Gil, Grealish, Traore and Sinclair feeding off Rudy Gestede’s knockdowns and showing what they can do in the areas where they are most dangerous. There is an extremely slim chance that any Villan will score a goal that starts directly from the goalkeeper: while Guzan is a sensational shot-stopper, his distribution isn’t one of his stronger attributes. If Guzan is simply told to punt the ball up the field towards Gestede, his team-mates will be in a much better position to launch attacks from forty yards out than they will from the edge of their own area.
This isn’t a plea for Sherwood’s side to begin playing ‘hoof ball’ in each game; I just feel that the players would benefit from Guzan getting the ball down closer to our goal and allowing our more skilful players the benefit of playing on the front foot. There is little point in wasting time and possession with neat, intricate passing amongst the back four and it would be more beneficial for the team to get our most creative players on the ball more often – and in better areas of the pitch.