5 Things From Palace/Spurs & Chelsea/Hull City. Ian Holloway & Referees, Jose's Back, & Signings

18 August 2013

Here are my thoughts on Sunday's games, which saw Tottenham win away at Crystal Palace 1-0 and Chelsea win at home against Hull City 2-0.

Ian Holloway Is Wrong About Refereeing Decisions That Led To Spurs Goal
After reading the Crystal Palace manager's quotes post-match, I decided to go back and re-watch the whole build up from tackle to penalty conversion. Having re-watched that three minute stretch multiple times, all I can conclude is that Ian Holloway is just asking to make life harder on himself this season.
Let's take a look at the beginning of the sequence, when Chadli dispossessed Dobbie. Dobbie lost possession of the ball when trying to make his run forward. From there, it's a 50-50 ball, that Chadli was able to pick up to spring another Tottenham attack. It wasn't a full on barge as Ian claimed. In my opinion, it could easily be argued that Dobbie made more of that challenge than it was. Furthermore, referees tend not to give fouls on tackles that are deemed shoulder to shoulder without any use of the arms, and that was this challenge was.
If Ian Holloway was wrong about an alleged Dobbie foul, he's even more so after seeing Moxey's handball. First off, the player is diving at the ball with his arms out. Secondly, he's making a play towards the ball. Moxey isn't sliding; he's lunging at the ball with his arms out. Once contact is made, the referee has the easiest decision he'll ever have to make. Those who have read my work for any length of time know how often I've dished out criticism of Clattenburg's work, but this is one instance where I simply cannot.
The Palace manager better be more careful about his words in the press about the refereeing of his team's play. It will eventually lead to a real decision going against them due to the subconscious from those men in the middle.

Crystal Palace Lack Any Forward Bite
Having watched all ten games this weekend, I am beyond baffled at how poor Crystal Palace were going forward this weekend. My first thought at full time was this team could threaten the point's total Derby County had in the 2007-08 season. At least then, Derby County fooled me opening day with a 2-2 draw.
If Palace were bunkered in all game, I don't think I would have reached this conclusion. However, Palace had plenty of possession in this one. The problem was, when trying to link the midfield to the forwards, the ball was going right back to Spurs through any of the various means a ball can be dispossessed with. Sure, you can argue with me that I am being too harsh considering how well Spurs played, but I'd counter that with looking at what Palace did when they made their triple substitution 25 minutes from time. It was pretty much more of the same, with only one late chance to seriously get back into it.
Kevin Phillips is a proven goal scorer, but at 40, his spells will be off the bench. Last season his super-sub abilities paid off, but he had chances created for him to do his magic. He only had one ball played to him in an attacking position, which allowed him to create. Later on, a ball played in to Phillips took him away from goal. It was one of the few times I've ever seen KP play where I thought he was rendered useless by his own side.
The learning curve from the Championship to the Premier League is a steep one. At least Palace's defense looks like it will keep them in matches this season. Jedinak played a vital role in slowing Spurs down today. Moxey, penalty aside, also held his own. That was despite Spurs tactic of trying to isolate him. If Palace want any serious chance to stay up, their midfield better figure out how to link play with their attack. They got away with a lackluster attack in the Championship late last season. This season, that will be exploited right to relegation and 20th position in the table.

Tottenham's New Signings Show Plenty of Promise
With all the changes Tottenham made in midfield and up top this summer, I was very leery about how long it would take all of them to mesh together. Having watched them against a better than expected Crystal Palace defense, they showed enough to make those fighting for a top position more nervous than they were before kickoff.
Using Lennon as the basis of their forward play, Paulinho and Dembele got into very good attacking positions. Once they got into those attacking positions, their efforts towards goal were quality efforts that on other days could easily go in. Soldado's touch in tight positions was very fluid, and made Speroni's afternoon difficult. While Soldado's goal came from the spot, he could have easily had one more.
The only one of the Spurs new signings that I thought could have played better was Chadli. He seemed too hesitant to get into the attack, but his play in defense was very strong. His lack of forward movement caused Spurs play to look more unbalanced to the eye than it in reality was. Capoure's cameo off the bench was uneventful, something needed when looking to close out matches.
As long as Spurs can stay healthy at the back, they will have more than ample opportunity to score goals. Tottenham's schedule the next two weeks is a tricky patch to navigate, but their play today showed more signs this won't be the Spurs side we've seen in years past. That's something that should worry their north London rivals like it hasn't had worried them before.

Jose Mourinho's Back to the Same Boring Chelsea
Sunday brought Jose Mourinho's brand of football to the Stamford Bridge pitch, and it was pretty much much of the same during Jose's first two seasons at the club. They pushed early and got their goals. From there, Chelsea's play slowed to a crawl, and it allowed Hull City to make an effort at getting back into things. However, with two matches coming up in the next week, it was completely understandable to slow it down against a side that didn't look too threatening until the hour mark.
It wasn't until Lukaku's replacement of Fernando Torres late in the second half that Chelsea stepped up their tempo again. Part of that is because Lukaku wants to be that main starting striker, but I don't see that happening. His role under Jose Mourinho for now will be to play that super sub role that he mastered at West Brom last season.
Chelsea weren't threatened at all, but that's because of the opposition they were playing. Their defensive frailties are going to be put to the test next week. However, Chelsea look like they will be able to attack at will this season. Based on what I saw today, if Chelsea were to simply make some defensive signings in this transfer window, they would be better off than they would be if they were to chase another forward.

Hull City Need Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore in the Starting Eleven
For an hour today, Hull City looked as poorly as the other two promoted sides did during this opening weekend. However, unlike those two sides, they were able to make one change that forced Chelsea to a rethink of how they were going to see the game out.
Once Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore were substituted on the pitch, Hull's attack immediately looked sharper. While most of their final touches were still poor, it was looking more and more likely they could get a goal to make the closing stages difficult. It forced Jose Mourinho to bring Lukaku on, and his ability to hold the ball up in the final third allowed the Chelsea midfield to push into spaces they hadn't done in the entire second half.
I get why these two were not started on Sunday. Their fitness was not where it needed to be after limited preseason action. Their thirty minutes though should give Hull hope. Once they are fully match fit, they will be first selections into the starting eleven. If Huddlestone and Livermore can get Hull to play full matches like they did the final half hour at Stamford Bridge, they look to be the only promoted side to be in the Premier League next season.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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