Crystal Palace came away with their second consecutive Premier League victory with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in a match brimming with controversy.
Both teams were equally matched throughout the first half, with Palace edging the changes and play, despite Villa’s higher possession.
Early in the second half, Trezeguet saw red for Villa after a second bookable offence on Wilfried Zaha, leaving the Midlands side down to 10 men.
Palace capitalised on their man advantage shortly after through Jordan Ayew’s strike in the 73rd minute. This was his first goal against his former club.
However, the match ended in controversy when Jack Grealish was deemed to have committed simulation whilst assisting Henri Lansbury for a 96th-minute equaliser, ruling out the goal.
Is VAR implemented correctly?
There were multiple scenarios across Gameweek four where the implementation and use of VAR raised controversy. This week alone saw three major incidents, including Grealish’s simulation, a red card decision on Leicester’s Youri Tielemans and a penalty decision against West Ham’s Sebastian Haller. All three decisions could arguably have influenced the outcomes of the respective matches.
Within the context of Palace and Villa’s tie, VAR comes into question through the technicality of referee Kevin Freind’s decision. Friend didn’t allow play to unfold after believing Grealish dived, blowing his whistle before Lansbury slotted past Guita in the Palace net. This meant that VAR could not review the goal, as Freind had blown the whistle beforehand. If Friend had let the game go as he was meant to, VAR most likely would have deemed the goal valid and VIlla would have escaped Selhurst Park with a point.
The decision brought discontent in the away end, with Villa fans and Palace stewards clashing at the end of the game. The situation is still unclear and we do not know who started the clash, however, what is clear is that its not a good representation of either club and should be punished in whichever way the FA see fit. It most certainly left a sour aftertaste on what was an exciting game of Premier League football.
This decision brought VAR into question over the technicalities of its use, as well as Freind’s improper approach to blowing his whistle before using the video assistance. With the number of controversial incidents ever-increasing, will we see a review on VAR’s introduction to the Premier League?
Best value signing this summer?
When Jordan Ayew joined Palace on a permanent move this summer for £2.5m, it raised a few eyebrows, particularly from the Palace faithful. However, Ayew scored his second goal in two games, expertly finishing off a lighting quick Palace counter-attack. He looks to be a player in confidence at the moment, something Palace have struggled to find in recent years.
Ayew has shown that he can lead a successful campaign before, netting seven goals in a relegated Villa side in the 15/16 season. He finished as the Villan’s top goalscorer that season. Palace have struggled to find a consistent goalscorer over the past few seasons, could Ayew prove to be the man they have been looking for?
Did Trezeguet lose the game for Villa?
After the controversy surrounding the disallowed last-minute equaliser, it is easy to forget that Trezeguet got sent off in the 54th minute for a second yellow offence on Zaha. The consensus between both Villa and Palace fans was that Trezeguet’s first yellow was soft, however, it could be understood why he walked after his second offence. This sending off followed the trend of the match, which saw Friend hand out a combined eight yellow cards.
The question must be raised as to whether the outcome of the match would have been different whether Trezeguet had not seen red. The complexion of the match changed after the sending off, seeing Palace take a more attacking approach, finishing the game with 22 shots on Tom Heaton’s goal.
It would be easy for the Villa faithful to point fingers at their Egyptian winger, or Kevin Freind, as to why they lost the game. However, their performance did not match those of recent weeks. All in all, Palace deserved their three points based on both team’s displays.
Have Palace sorted their defensive woes?
It’s fair to say Palace had a shaky defensive record last season conceding 53 goals, despite the astute permanent additions of defenders such as Mamadou Sakho. Ending the season on a minus two-goal difference, the mediocracy of Palace’s defensive efforts summed up their mid-table finish.
However, Roy Hodgson’s side looks to have sealed up at the back this season, even with a makeshift central partnership of Gary Cahill and Martin Kelly in place whilst their starting centre-halves recover from injury. Palace have conceded two goals in four games, the joint lowest in the division so far. With defenders such as Sakho and Dann still to return to the starting 11, could we see a more defensively sound Palace side this season?
Have Villa had a poor start?
The reality of the Premier League is starting to sink in for Aston Villa, who have come off their playoff final honeymoon to suffer three defeats in their first four games.
Dean Smith’s side have had impressive outings against Tottenham, Bournemouth and Everton, yet the game at Palace exposed their lack of depth and quality in a few areas of the pitch. Wide men Jota and Trezeguet had little impact on the game, with the latter being sent off on the 54th minute.
Welsey looked isolated after his heroics against Everton, whilst the Villa midfield trio of Grealish, McGinn and Luiz struggled massively to link up through the middle of the park. The introduction of Hourihane and Lansbury seemed to freshen things up a little, however, it was all a little too late for Smith’s side.
Villa will need to pick up their pace whilst their fixtures look favourable if they want to stay with a chance of remaining in the Premier League next season.
After the international break, Palace will travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to play last year’s champions league finalists. Aston Villa will host in-form West Ham.