Cardiff City were officially relegated from the Premier League as visitors Crystal Palace won 3-2 to confirm the Bluebirds’ fall on Saturday.
Neil Warnock’s side was still battling for safety with two games left to play in the season yet for any chances of survival, they had to avoid defeat against Palace. The game was balanced in the beginning and Cardiff were hoping to keep it tight. But that plan went out of the window when Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring before the half-hour mark with a low drive.
Cardiff soon found the equaliser after Martin Kelly tapped into his own net to hand a gift to the opponents. But Palace wasted no time in getting their lead back, Jordan Ayew combined with Michy Batshuayi in the box and the Chelsea loanee made it 2-1.
Andros Townsend made it 3-1 in the second half with a great individual goal, and Cardiff’s hopes were gone. They did produce a late rally and Bobby Reid scored with a great finish, yet the Bluebirds were wasteful in chances which came their way ultimately sealing their fate and confirming relegation.
Palace relegating teams left, right, and centre
It sounds crazy, but Crystal Palace have relegated four teams from the Premier League in the last three seasons. In May 2017, Palace beat Hull City 4-0 which confirmed the Tigers’ relegation. Patrick van Aanholt got a late goal in that game to seal Hull’s fate. Palace themselves were safe that campaign and they won in emphatic fashion to demote Hull. Next season, they did it again to Stoke City.
Palace beat Stoke 2-1 at the Bet365 Stadium which confirmed relegation for the Potters – Van Aanholt got the late winner that day. This season, Palace have claimed two scalps. Huddersfield were sent packing a couple of weeks ago courtesy of a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park. Guess who got the second goal? Yes, Van Aanholt again.
The left-back did not feature against Cardiff, otherwise, a goal would have been the norm from him. Despite his absence, Palace managed to put the final nail in the coffin for yet another side. Mark Palace’s fixtures from next April, because some team or the other is getting bad news in those games.
Zaha stars yet again in a Palace win
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was crowned as Crystal Palace’s Player of the Season during the week and the young right-back has had an excellent campaign. But Wilfried Zaha is the team’s most important player, and he showed it on Saturday. Zaha opened the scoring and had an excellent game throughout for the Eagles.
His goal took him into double figures for the Premier League season and behind only Luka Milivojevic for goals scored at the club – with the central midfielder thankful for penalties of which he has scored 10. Coincidentally, Zaha has had a big hand in earning those penalties. Palace have lacked a recognisable striker for most of the season which has increased the burden on Zaha.
The winger is a tremendous dribbler and his trickery and pace can harass any defender in the league. He signed a new contract last summer which will keep him at the club till 2023 and as Roy Hodgson looks to build something at Selhurst Park, Zaha will be the centerpiece of the team for seasons to come.
Despite showing some great fight, Cardiff are finally down
Truth be told, not many expected them to get this far. Cardiff were the odds-on favourites to be relegated when the season started. Ahead of Huddersfield and ahead of Fulham. But they showed some great spirit and determination to get where they were going into the game with Palace.
Neil Warnock has had limited resources to work with and his squad was not good enough compared to other sides in the league. But he still kept them alive, even if it was not enough in the end. Their lack of quality eventually shone through and they were just not good enough in the end but full credit to the Welsh outfit for their efforts.
Hodgson and Palace should be aiming higher next season
Palace are currently 12th in the table and the highest they can finish is 11th. But with the squad at his disposal, manager Roy Hodgson might look to better that next season. The Eagles’ squad is brimming with solid performers and many of them are not the flashy kind. The likes of James McArthur and Jeffrey Schlupp don’t make the headlines but they do a stellar job in midfield.
Luka Milivojevic does so much more than scoring penalties, and the captaincy is a sign of his leadership qualities. Their defence is really solid aided by a great partnership between James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho. In the form of Patrick van Aanholt and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, they have one of the best full-back duos in the league.
Up front, they have the quality of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend. They do need a consistent striker, as Christian Benteke has shown nothing much apart from flashes of his quality – Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi could be the answer there. After some shrewd recruitment, Palace should be ready to challenge for the top half of the Premier League next campaign.
Cardiff City united despite relegation
The last time Cardiff City were in the Premier League, they went down after just one campaign. But that campaign was marred by divided opinions within the management. This time around both the manager and the owner are on the same page. Despite going down, the players and fans both voiced their support for Warnock at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.
“I think it’s back as one now,” said Warnock after the game. “When I came to the club, I thought it was broken. It’s almost reborn now, look at the fans. I’m so proud.” He has not made a decision regarding his future, but the players are urging him to stay for next season in the Championship.
He has a decision to make, and the club must prepare themselves for the second tier. But the club are united, which is in stark contrast with what they were a couple of seasons ago.