Crystal PalaceSport

Andrew McSteen’s four takeaways from Crystal Palace’s 3-2 win against Sheffield United – Elite players make difference but defensive frailties clear for all to see

Crystal Palace got back to Premier League winning ways with a come-from-behind 3-2 win against bottom side Sheffield United at Selhurst Park on Tuesday.

Going 1-0 down after just 21 seconds shocked those in SE25, but a Michael Olise cross to Ebere Eze in the 17th minute saw him stab home from close range and bring the game level.

However, the visitors went ahead again just three minutes later when James McAtee’s shot deflected off of Marc Guehi and over goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

But this did not set the Eagles back, as they equalised again, again through Olise assisting Eze, with the French U21 player supplying the England international with a ball on the edge of the box for Eze to slot home in the 27th minute to make it 2-2.

Fans had to wait more than 40 minutes of match action for another goal, but it was worth waiting for as Olise, picking up a blocked Jean-Philippe Mateta cross, took the ball on a half volley to slot home the 69th minute winner past former Eagles goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.

Here are Andrew McSteen’s four takeaways from Selhurst Park:

Crystal Palace v Sheffield United – Premier League, Selhurst Park, 30 January 2024
Picture : Keith Gillard


We’ve all been to grounds where the atmosphere is like a theatre. People who follow football, or just want to be part of it, come and attend, applauding when they see something they like.

There is no chanting, rather silence. They are an audience.

Football should have crowds, a group of people cheering their teams on.

But sometimes, players are just so good you want to bring people from outside of the sport we love and show them what they’re missing.

Like the very best singers, actors, musicians or artists, Michael Olise and Ebere Eze produce art and it should be consumed and enjoyed by everyone – they need the widest audience possible. It is a democracy of enjoyment, seeing masters of their art produce their best work.

Not since the peak days of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie have I wanted to bring those who have little to no interest in football to SE25 just to share what we all witness from time-to-time.

Yes, it was a woeful, bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United side, as porous as a sponge, but only in person can you appreciate truly the art that Olise and Eze produce. Without them, Roy Hodgson’s side would not be in a healthy position at all.

Dean Henderson and Clinton Morrison both told me after the game that Palace should be building a squad around them.

Can the Eagles keep hold of them both for the time it takes to build one?

Crystal Palace v Sheffield United – Premier League, Selhurst Park, 30 January 2024
Picture : Keith Gillard


It took a while for some people to get their head around a striker whose main job is not to score goals and not since the days of Glenn Murray, Andy Johnson and one brief Christian Benteke season, have Eagles fans had experience of a prolific goalscorer.

In fact Benteke himself can be seen as a prototype for what was to come for the SE25 side, maybe not by design it has to be said.

His hard work off the ball, drawing fouls, winning headers and causing nuisance did allow for others, particularly Wilfried Zaha, to get the ball in dangerous positions, even if the Belgian did not score that regularly.

This role of an almost non-scoring striker has not been any more apparent in recent years that with Jordan Ayew, consistently working his socks off to provide Olise, Eze and others the opportunity to shine.

Coming straight from the Cote d’Ivoire where his Ghana side crashed out of African Cup of Nations contention at the first stage, Ayew was at his best on Tuesday night, providing the stage for Olise and Eze to showcase their talents.

With 69 fouls against him in just 20 Premier League games so far this season, the 32-year-old is worth his weight in gold in easing pressure and creating opportunities for his side.

Ayew lies way ahead of any other player in the four professional English leagues in terms of fouls-per-game ratio.

By some distance he is the most fouled player in the Premier League having played one game less but standing currently seven fouls ahead of Newcastle’s Bruno Guimaraes (62) and 50 per cent more than Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (45) – a player who his club wrote to the Premier League referees body about his perceived rough treatment.

Was it coincidental that the Eagles failed to score in their three games while Ayew was away in Africa (two FA Cup matches against Everton and a loss at Arsenal), a trio of matches sandwiched either side by games where an Ayew-led Palace scored three each time?

Whatever the case may be, welcome back Jordan, the 2019 £2.5million signing proving an absolute steal – and crucial part of the current Palace set-up.

Crystal Palace v Sheffield United – Premier League, Selhurst Park, 30 January 2024
Picture : Keith Gillard


Just six teams in the Premier League have conceded more goals than the 36 which Crystal Palace have at the time of writing this on Wednesday afternoon: Brighton (37), Luton (38), Bournemouth (39), Forest (40), Burnley (42) and Sheffield United (54).

And just three teams have a worse goal difference than the minus-11 of the Eagles – Forest (-13), Burnley (-21) and Sheffield United (-35).

In the early part of the season, with Sam Johnstone in goal, the Palace defence of Johnstone along with Joel Ward, Tyrick Mitchell, Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen in front of him and then Cheick Doucoure in front of them were one of the top five defences in the Premier League.

Aside from a 4-0 reverse away at Newcastle, they were a solid team registering five clean sheets in their first 11 league games, including three in a row.

But a likely season-ending injury for Doucoure, combined with injury to Johnstone replaced briefly by Remi Matthews and now Dean Henderson, who came in for the 2-2 draw at Manchester City, has seen clean sheets disappear – the last one coming 88 days ago on 4 November away at Burnley.

Henderson has conceded 13 goals in his six Premier League matches so far for Palace, equivalent to 2.16 per game, while Johnstone is on 1.375 per game (22 in 16) – both having suffered big defeats, with Henderson conceding five at Arsenal and Johnstone those four in the north east.

Is it time for Johnstone to come back in or is the issue more about injuries to Doucoure or Roy Hodgson’s tactics? Could new signing Daniel Munoz at right-back shore up the defence? Were Palace just lucky earlier on?

Whatever the answer, if Palace have exciting 3-2 wins from behind does it even matter if the opposition always scores?

Crystal Palace v Sheffield United – Premier League, Selhurst Park, 30 January 2024
Picture : Keith Gillard


In recent weeks the Palace faithful have expressed their feelings vocally and through banners at games about a number of different things, which they feel need addressing.

Topics of discussion in recent weeks have included the proposed new Main Stand construction that has dragged on for years, a lack of a clear management succession plan after Hodgson, a brand of football that does not inspire at times, an ownership which shows resistance to spending money in a transfer window, consistent, long-term injuries and ‘persons with significant interest’ in the club who have never spoken to the media in-depth, or fans, about their involvement with the club.

While some of the passion associated with these topics has subsided in recent days, even hours, for a large section of the home fans to firstly boo the announcement of Michael Olise’s substitution in the 69th minute for Jeffrey Schlupp last night when it was very apparent that Olise felt a twinge in his hamstring and to then boo again when Schlupp ran on the pitch was very strange.

Every single person is entitled to voice their opinion on any topic but since when has booing a newly-introduced player to the field of action helped anything? And one who is approaching his 250th appearance for the club with a goal return of near one in 10 as a midfielder.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.