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Eagles did some shrewd business on deadline day
2:56pm Wednesday 5th February 2014 in Sport
CRYSTAL Palace columnist WILL TAYLOR is convinced the Eagles did some excellent business on transfer deadline day.
THERE was nothing surprising about Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of table-topping Arsenal.
The Gunners dominated possession, executed wave after wave of patient attacking promise and once again struggled to showcase their dominance in the final scoreline.
Tony Pulis’ Palace, meanwhile, were deployed with military precision, resolute in defence and relentlessly spurred on by an incredible vocal support that attracted both praise and envy.
The goals came when there was the inevitable lapse in concentration, allowing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to find the back of the net with the effortless grace which is par for the course at the Emirates.
For me the only truly disheartening aspect of the performance stemmed from the infuriating return of players carelessly conceding possession.
The entire team, minus Marouane ‘something to prove’ Chamkah, seemed castrated in a state of permanent panic as if they’d never seen the ball at their feet before.
Mile Jedinak laced every pass with unnecessary aggression, Yannick Bolasie’s excitable touches led him into numerous grassy cul-de-sacs, while Joel Ward struggled to adjust to his now unfamiliar role at right-back.
Perhaps the daunting occasion affected certain players, or rather they were fully aware of the new recruits licking their lips up in the stands.
Preparation for arguably the most difficult away trip of the season will surely have been hampered by the piercing yellow glare emanating from Sky Sports News last Friday.
But for first time since its introduction, transfer deadline day was not about fearing painful departures and instead saw fans eagerly anticipating the prospect of several new arrivals.
Chairman Steve Parish has certainly attracted critics during a subdued January but he acted with impressive assertion to secure five players that strengthened our relegation fight, without depleting the club’s financial reserves.
Wayne Hennessey was the first through the door, serving to provide suitable competition for Julian Speroni without the expectation that he would walk straight into the team.
I was eager to see how Speroni would react against Arsenal considering the last serious contender for his jersey was that Hungarian who liked to wear pyjamas.
After a promising first half which featured a trio of superb stops, he failed to deal with a fizzing Oxlade-Chamberlain drive that should have been pushed away for a corner.
Speroni is a universally-adored figure at Selhurst Park, but those fearing he may soon drop out of the team need only look at Manchester City and Real Madrid to understand the benefits of dislodging established number ones.
Outfield, Joe Ledley has joined the ranks as an experienced midfielder exhibiting steel and grit but also much-needed composure on the ball that is likely to see Palace create many more opportunities in front of goal.
With a reported transfer fee somewhere beneath the £1million mark, Ledley could soon trump Barry Bannan as bargain of the season and represents a previously unattainable target that the pre-Pulis regime would have struggled to attract.
The same can be said for centre-back Scott Dann, who apparently sacrificed a sizeable wage chunk and a promotion push to engage in yet another relegation battle.
The capture of Dann is most important of all, with Damien Delaney and Danny Gabbidon drifting between competent and unconvincing performances, while captain Paddy McCarthy remains increasingly fragile.
Jason Puncheon was tied down to a permanent deal, with Pulis making no secret of his admiration and respect following that 12-yard mishap at White Hart Lane.
This concrete signing allowed Palace to apply the icing on their D-Day cake, with the highly-promising Tom Ince arriving on loan from Blackpool.
Every team in the country seemed to try and snap up the ‘Baby Guvnor’, whose decision to choose a short-term stint in SE25 represents a major coup for the club.
I am desperate to see Ince’s decision rewarded with a barrage of goals, and perhaps even a seat on the plane to Rio come June.
Not only would this go some way to help the club avoid relegation, but it would perhaps convince fellow young starlets to take stepping stones in their career rather than one giant leap to the top, where the air is thin and the margins for error small.
I am concerned we didn’t bolster the two most alarming areas of the squad which needed improvement, namely up front and at left-back.
But then again Jonathan Parr continues to improve as the weeks go by, while Ward and Adrian Mariappa appear capable of filling in if required.
Meanwhile, Glenn Murray has now finished piecing his knee back together and has impressed Pulis with his hunger and clinical ability in front of goal.
Last season’s goal-happy hero returned to action in a behind closed doors friendly on Monday and is even tipped for a place in the squad for the upcoming game against West Brom.
There is a worry that this could be too much too soon for Murray, having yet to sample the pace and physicality of England's top flight.
But with Kevin Phillips now concentrating on getting Leicester back in the Premier League, there is certainly a super sub vacancy readily available on the Palace bench.
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