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November 26 2020 5.48pm

Crystal Palace's History of Defying the Odds

August 29 2019



The Eagles have had a indifferent history when it comes to defying the drop, writes Ben Blake.

The start of the 2019-20 has already had plenty of ups and downs for Crystal Palace, with the Eagles following up a brilliant win over Manchester United by being knocked out of the EFL Cup.

Losing to Colchester United on penalties at home was a blow for fans who were hoping for a cup run to enjoy this term, with a 4-0 loss away to Tottenham last time out showing how much work there is still to do for Roy Hodgson and his team.

Still, anyone who had backed Palace for relegation has had to watch the team sit comfortably in mid-table despite that heavy defeat across London, with Hodgson's men having been flying high near the top of the league prior to that loss.

Palace have long been one of the most unpredictable teams in English football and the same looks set to be true this season, with keeping Wilfried Zaha providing a massive boost.

With a few consecutive years in the Premier League under Palace's belt, the Eagles look set to continue defying the odds for some time.

Beating United a sign of things to come?

Although Palace have since somewhat come back down to earth with a bump, that victory over United at Old Trafford can offer a blueprint for how the team can be successful in 2019-20.

Palace arguably rode their luck at times, with Marcus Rashford failing to score a penalty for the first time in his career, while David de Gea will surely feel he ought to have kept out that late winner from rampaging left-back Patrick van Aanholt.

Hodgson's side were a serious threat on the break - it was from a rapid counter than Van Aanholt squeezed his strike in at De Gea's near post - and it is possibly the case that Palace will again be more dangerous on the road than they are at Selhurst Park this season.

Palace were heavy underdogs when they headed north to Manchester but this is something that has never affected the team, no matter who is in charge. Indeed, Hodgson sometimes seems to relish not being expected to get anything - this is when he appears to do his best work.

Bookmakers were the first to offer new players free bets to get them to register and anyone who took advantage to back Palace against United would have received some very hefty returns.

As one of the most experienced managers in the world, Hodgson got one over on United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is still making his way in the game after being handed the keys to Old Trafford mainly on the back of his success as a player for the Red Devils.

When Palace rocked the European champions

Younger generations will not remember when Palace beat Nottingham Forest - then the kings of Europe - but the match is rightly recognised as one of the great wins in Eagles history.

Brian Clough's Forest won consecutive European Cups and they are remembered as one of the best British teams of all time. So few gave Palace a hope of beating in December 1979.

Palace were a club on the up, having just been promoted to the top flight after a few years in relative wilderness, but Forest were a different proposition, bidding to defend their continental crown and top the First Division for the third year in a row.

Viv Anderson, Trevor Francis and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton were among the players Forest brought to Selhurst on that day, but it was Ian Walsh who came up with the only goal. John Burridge also delivered a star performance in between the posts for the Eagles.

Pardew and Palace stun Liverpool in FA Cup

Perhaps what was most disappointing about the loss to Colchester in the EFL Cup last month is that Palace have such a strong, vital history in cup competitions.

Arguably their most famous cup win came back in 1990 when they beat Liverpool in a thriller at Villa Park to book a trip to Wembley for the FA Cup final.

Palace had lost 9-0 to Liverpool earlier in the season, so revenge was very much on the menu for Steve Coppell's men. But when Ian Rush put the Reds in front, there must have been fears of a repeat performance.

Mark Bright levelled early in the second half, however, then Palace took the lead only for goals from Steve McMahon and John Barnes to turn the game on its head once more.

Liverpool were then massive favourites to go on to the final, but Andy Gray headed in a late winner which allowed Alan Pardew to score one of the most famous goals in Palace history.

Results like that defeat of Liverpool, the win over European champions Forest and even the victory at Manchester United early in the current campaign show what Palace are about.

The Eagles might often be the underdogs, but they can simply never be written off.

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