No need for Man City to press panic button after Palace defeat, says Fabian Delph

Andy Hampson 23/12/2018
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Fabian Delph admits Manchester City‘s shock loss to Crystal Palace was a huge blow.

But the midfielder was hardly reaching for the panic button after the title favourites unexpectedly went down 3-2 to the Londoners at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The result left the champions trailing Premier League leaders Liverpool by four points but, with the season just short of the halfway point, there is plenty of time to turn the situation around.

“It’s a massive setback but at the end of the day it’s a very long season,” said England international Delph. “We’re not focused on Liverpool or on any team other than ourselves.”

City did force themselves ahead against the Eagles through Ilkay Gundogan but were then stunned as Roy Hodgson’s spirited side hit back through Jeffrey Schlupp and a wonder goal from Andros Townsend.

Andros Townsend stunned Manchester City with an early contender for goal of the season.

Andros Townsend stunned Manchester City with an early contender for goal of the season.

Townsend’s stunning volley – a ferocious strike measured at 29 yards by TV broadcasters – is already being hailed as the goal of the season by many and left City reeling.

Kyle Walker then conceded a penalty with a rash challenge seconds after Townsend hit the post and Luka Milivojevic made the game safe despite a late – and fortuitous – Kevin De Bruyne reply.

Delph said: “I felt we were in control for the whole game but they’ve scored two world-class goals, and you have to take your hat off to that – they are not goals you see every day, so fair play to them.

“We will always analyse every performance and see what we could have done better in different areas of the pitch, but with those two goals there is nothing you can do.

“We look at ourselves and we had chances. We stayed in control, stayed calm, but came up short.”

It was Palace’s first away victory over City since 1990 and came after 5-0 thrashings in each of their last two visits to the Etihad. Coming after defeats in five of their last six away games it was completely unexpected and naturally Hodgson was delighted.

He did concede, however, it was still not his favourite win at City from a personal point of view. That remains the occasion in 2008 when his Fulham side recovered from 2-0 down to win and kickstart a remarkable relegation escape.

Hodgson said: “It ranks very highly but it still doesn’t rate as highly as the one, many years ago, that kept Fulham in with a shout of staying in the Premier League.

“At 2-0 at half-time, had that result stayed, we were relegated. Even if we’d pulled it back to 2-2 we were relegated. We won the game 3-2 – a deja vu situation like this, and then went on to take 12 from the last 15 to keep us up.

“I suppose that will also be foremost in my memory but I must say the Manchester City we beat then weren’t anywhere near as good as the team we beat here.”

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Premier League's leading scorer Aubameyang backed to hit 30 goals by Arsenal team-mate

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Aubameyang could take the Premier League's top scorer crown.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos has backed Arsenal team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to hit 30 Premier League goals by the end of the season.

The Gabon forward scored a brace in Saturday’s 3-1 victory at home to Burnley to move above Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah as the league’s top goalscorer with 12 strikes to his name.

Aubameyang, 29, moved to the Emirates Stadium last January and has been in fine form since, and he continued that as two smart finishes put Unai Emery’s side on course for victory over the Clarets.

Ashley Barnes pulled one back for the visitors before Alex Iwobi wrapped up the points for Arsenal in stoppage time.

But it is Aubameyang, with 22 goals in 31 Premier League games since joining from Borussia Dortmund, who Sokratis feels can continue to impress.

“I know Auba. I’ve known him for six or seven years,” Sokratis – who played alongside Aubameyang at Dortmund, told Arsenal’s official website.

Sokratis has backed his team-mate to hit 30 league goals.

Sokratis has backed his team-mate to hit 30 league goals.

“In these games he does it every time, one, two or three goals. I think 30 will happen. I hope that he will win it (the golden boot).”

Burnley posed a physical challenge to Arsenal, with Barnes arguably lucky to be on the pitch to pull a goal back having been booked and committed further fouls.

Sean Dyche, the Clarets boss, accused Arsenal of diving during the game, while Barnes and Sokratis had an off-the-field tussle following a coming together in the first-half.

“It was a difficult game,” the Greece international defender added.

“Sometimes it was too much, but I don’t think that was my mistake. I just stood up to go from the ball. But it is okay, it’s football, it can happen.

“It was important for us to win three points. Now we have to look forward to the next games.”

While Arsenal got back to winning ways following two defeats, Burnley remain in the bottom three having won only three league games all season.

Barnes, who had not scored since a double against Bournemouth on September 22, has backed a squad which was good enough to qualify for Europe last season to bounce back in the coming weeks.

“I got a goal but the main thing is the points that we need to start picking up,” he told the club’s official website.

“We’ll dust ourselves down and we’ll get ready for Wednesday (against Everton) and hopefully come out with the three points.

“These games are important and for everyone to get behind us and us to put in the performances we have done in the last few games.

“I am confident with that group of players in the changing room and the work we do for each other. We’ve still got half of the season left. I have no qualms we will get out of it.”

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Cesar Azpilicueta calls for Chelsea response to Leicester defeat

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Cesar Azpilicueta has challenged Chelsea to shrug off their “disappointing” Leicester defeat and set their season back on track.

Blues captain Azpilicueta bemoaned Saturday’s 1-0 home Premier League loss to Leicester, that leaves Maurizio Sarri’s fourth-placed men 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jamie Vardy’s goal condemned the Blues to a defeat that proved a missed opportunity to close ground on second-placed Manchester City, who slipped to a shock 3-2 home loss to Crystal Palace.

Spain defender Azpilicueta wants Chelsea to bounce back immediately though, in their Boxing Day trip to Watford.

“It’s really disappointing, but we don’t have another option, this game is finished; we have to analyse and improve the mistakes we made, to carry on the things we did well,” said Azpilicueta.

“And we have two away games before the turn of the year and hopefully we can get the points, because we need them.

“We are really disappointed with the result, it’s true we had chances to score a goal and to win the game.

“But the truth is they were efficient, and they held their lead after scoring until the end.”

Eden Hazard hit the bar and late on Marcos Alonso side-footed against a post when one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel, leaving Chelsea deflated to come away empty-handed.

Azpilicueta insisted the Blues can hit back quickly however, with trips to Watford and Crystal Palace to come before New Year.

“We finished the first half very well, we were in control of the game, we had chances, we were dangerous,” Azpilicueta told Chelsea TV.

“But then we conceded five or six minutes into the second half, and they were more comfortable at 1-0.

“Their plan was to contain, and obviously we were trying to find the solution, but we were not even able to score for 1-1, and then we were in trouble.

“We know that the Premier League is very tough, but our target is to win every game, and when we don’t win we are disappointed.

“So we have to analyse and improve for the next game.

“In four days we have a tough game again, and we have to be ready to get the points.”

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