Having spent four years at Sunderland, Connor Wickham could be forgiven for thinking that football fans seldom get behind their own players, but after his first experience in a red and blue shirt at Selhurst Park, the striker was quick to reference the backing he received.
Deployed in the lone striker role in place of Glenn Murray, the 22-year-old battled hard against a resolute Arsenal defence all afternoon, hitting the post midway through the second half with the scores locked at 1-1, much to his own frustration.
Speaking about the experience of playing his first home game as a Palace player, it was clear to see that the fans had made an impression on the Ipswich academy graduate, after travelling here as part of the visiting squad on more than one occasion.
It was brilliant, obviously not the result but the fans have been excellent and the atmosphere was great.
“It’s a tough place to come to as an away player I’ve done it a few times and it’s not nice but to have the fans on my side today was good and hopefully they’ll be a key factor in our performances in the future.
“We’ll approach that game differently and with the attack we have we’ll definitely get chances and hopefully we can come away with three points and make this place a fortress.”
Although some Palace fans have immediately compared him unfavourably to Glenn Murray, it is worth noting Wickham’s age before writing him off completely. At 22, Murray was plying his trade at Carlisle United; proof if ever it were needed, that strikers take a number of years to mature into their natural game.
Had Wickham’s shot that cannoned back off the post been a few inches to the left, we could well be toasting a pivotal winning goal for a young forward on his home debut, but instead, we’re being forced to compare and contrast the relative qualities of two frontmen at opposite ends of their careers.
For what it’s worth, I saw a lot of promise in Wickham’s game yesterday afternoon. There were undoubtedly shades of Murray running throughout his performance, which, given the time he still has to hone his talents, can only bode well for us.
It will certainly be interesting to see who gets the nod to start against Aston Villa this weekend.