Published author, Palace fan and all-round lovely bloke Richard Foster will be providing HLTCO with match previews throughout the 2015/16 campaign, bringing a degree of thoughtful perspective to the madness of the Premier League from week to week.
A week is a long time in politics but in football it’s even longer……
As football fans, we all have a propensity to react wildly to results and perhaps at times overreact. That is all part of the passion of supporting a club when losses really hurt and victories thrill us to bits. But the response to the opening day matches was even stretching the ridiculous scale to unknown extremes. There are certain people who can somehow extrapolate how the whole season is going to pan out from the first match. I suspect these are the very same people who are part of the dreaded ITK brigade and know about every single transfer before they happen. Be warned there are plenty of them out there.
Apparently we already know, for example, that Sunderland are doomed, that Leicester are going to be a revelation under Ranieri and that Chelsea are going to implode in a Mourinho-led meltdown. The most surprising revelation was that after their loss at home to West Ham that Arsenal have already blown their chances of winning the Premier League and the long-awaited rerun of The Invincibles will have to wait for another season.
On this weird time scale that football now operates in, a week is an incredibly long time as things change radically. Take Petr Cech. His signing was acknowledged as a masterstroke after the Community Shield win over his former club Chelsea and everything was extremely rosy in the Emirates garden as the veteran Czech keeper was the final piece of the jigsaw that Wenger has been trying to assemble for so long. But the next Sunday, after he showed some fallibility (and flappability) in conceding two goals, he has suddenly become the problem not the solution and left Arsene hunting underneath the sofa for that damned jigsaw piece yet again.
Palace meanwhile secured a hard-earned and some say slightly fortuitous win at Carrow Road. We did not start particularly convincingly and had Grabban been on his game he could have hurt his former club but he fluffed his lines. Having secured a 2-0 lead Redmond and Jerome came on to upset the equilibrium and a contentious disallowed goal from CamJam proved the turning point. We can expect a backlash of ferocious proportions from Arsenal and cannot concede possession as we did against Norwich because we will get punished. The return of Wilf to something like his majestic best augurs well but he needs to sustain this form and with Yannick hopefully returning to the fold, we may rekindle that wing-led threat that terrorised the Championship a few years ago. We are about to discover if this pair can unsettle the Gunners.
Richard is a freelance football writer and author. His latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Play-Offs is available through www.ockleybooks.co.uk
He will be a regular columnist for The Guardian, the Croydon Advertiser and Sabotage Times this season as well as other Palace fanzines and blogs.
Follow him on twitter @rcfoster