As opening games of the season go, Saturday’s 2-0 win for Palace away at Fulham was up there with the most pleasant experiences you could hope for as a travelling fan, a fact borne out by the footage of our fans celebrating, attached just below.
For all the hype given to the Cottagers following their heavy spending during the summer, Palace looked every inch an experienced Premier League outfit for the majority of the contest and despite Wayne Hennessey being forced into some truly impressive stops to keep the hosts at bay in the opening 40 minutes, it was Roy Hodgson’s men who were the more comfortable of the two from the moment Jeffrey Schlupp rocketed us into the lead just before the break.
The post-match possession stats may paint a picture of relative Fulham dominance but in truth, the second half saw the Eagles defending their lead with relative ease before Wilfried Zaha put the match to bed with 79 minutes on the clock.
Palace have often been known as an adept counter-attacking unit and so it proved again on Saturday, with the second goal of the game coming seconds after we had the ball inside our own penalty area. Following a cross-field switch from the left wing to the right, academy star Aaron Wan-Bissaka advanced with purpose (despite being fouled) before playing in the imperious Zaha, who took a single touch to round Whites’ stopper Fabri and roll the ball into the middle of the net from 18 yards.
That ruthless streak is simply something that develops over time in the Premier League and whilst the Palace faithful may struggle to feel like an established top flight outfit from time to time, last weekend was a reminder that this is now our sixth consecutive campaign at English football’s top table.
We’ll need to be every bit as good and probably a fair bit better if we are expecting anything like as positive an outcome when we welcome Liverpool to Selhurst Park on Monday night but when you think back to the dreadful start we endured to the 2017/18 season, the haste with which we’ve put three points on the board can be looked upon as a real blessing in preparation for the hard graft that lies ahead.