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May 20 2024 7.51pm

Palace: The destroyers of Premier League title hopes

April 18 2024

Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park

Usually, we imagine that fans of the 'Big Six' look at a clash with Crystal Palace as an easy three points, writes Peter Blake.

While the Eagles are usually fighting to avoid the drop or comfortably sit in midtable, their adversaries are battling it out for the title or at least for a spot in the Champions League. However, in recent years, the South East London outfit have torpedoed Premier League title aspirations left, right, and centre.

That was the case once more on Sunday, April 14, when Oliver Glasner took his side to Merseyside to face off against Liverpool at Anfield. The hosts were - and still are, just about - locked in a three-way title race for the ages alongside reigning champions Manchester City and last season's runners-up Arsenal.

As such, the bookies didn't give the visitors much of a chance, with some outlets pricing the hosts as short as 1/5 to secure the victory. Even when Eberechi Eze gave the Eagles a shock 14th-minute lead, live betting odds still made Liverpool the 1/2 favourite to complete the turnaround and secure the victory.

However, as time passed, the equaliser never came. The likes of Darwin Nunez and Curtis Jones missed guilt-edged chances and the hosts couldn't find a way past a staunch Palace defence.

As such, it was Palace who ran out victorious, leaving the Reds now two points behind top-of-the-table Manchester City with just six games to play. But this isn't the first time that the Eagles have ravaged Liverpool's title hopes.

Crystanbul and the Tears of Luis Suarez

Back in 2014, a Liverpool side under the tutelage of Brandan Rodgers thrilled everybody as tjhey announced their return to the summit of English football after years of languishing outside the top four.

The Reds had been on a stunning run of form that culminated with a 3-2 victory over title favourites Manchester City at Anfield. After that game, captain and talisman Steven Gerrard issued a war cry, famously exclaiming "This does not slip!" to his teammates.

Unfortunately, he did exactly that. His mistimed slip just a week later in a home clash against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea allowed Demba Ba to give the visitors the lead in a crucial game in the title race.

The Blues would eventually run out 2-0 victors, piling the pressure on the Reds to secure an impressive victory at Selhurst Park eight days later. And it looked as though they would do exactly that when goals from Joe Allen, Luis Suarez, and a Damian Delaney own goal gave them a 3-0 lead with just half an hour to play.

But rather than be satisfied with the three points, Liverpool went on the hunt for more goals to reduce their goal difference arrears to the Citizens, and it proved to be their downfall. Delaney netted at the right end, before a late brace from Dwight Gayle levelled things up, stealing a point for the hosts and leaving the visitors' title aspirations in tatters.

Manchester City's Crystal Palace Nightmares

And it isn't just the Reds that have suffered from the wrath of Crystal Palace. This fearsome all-conquering Manchester City side crafted by Pep Guardiola has also had to deal with its fair share of slip-ups against the Eagles.

Back in 2018, the Blues had just ascended to the Premier League mountaintop, winning the title under their iconic Spanish manager for the first time and racking up an almighty 100 points in the process. But in their quest to retain the crown they had to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool, who were four points clear when Crystal Palace visited the Etihad in December.

With the hosts expectant of a victory that would draw them to within just one point of the league leaders, disaster struck in the form of Andros Townsend's magic wand-like left boot.

The former Spurs winger rifled home a blistering 30-yard volley to help his side to a stunning 3-2 victory in a result that former manager Roy Hodgson said was "one of those bonanza days." And three years later, they would do it again.

In the 2021/22 campaign, the Blues were champions yet again, winning the trophy back from Liverpool who claimed the crown in 2020.

Once more, however, the defence of said crown was off to a stuttering start, and on Halloween weekend, they were down in third place behind the Reds and Chelsea. And in the spirit of a spooky season, they were in for an almighty fright.

Crystal Palace rocked up to the Etihad and hadn't read the script. Wilfried Zaha gave them an early lead and became the first player in history to score 50 Premier League goals for the Eagles.

As the game progressed, the reigning champions were unable to find an equaliser, allowing Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher to add a second just two minutes before full-time to secure another victory inside City's famed fortress.

Unlike Liverpool however, on both those occasions, Manchester City managed to regroup and win the title. It remains to be seen whether the Reds can do the same this term. But for Palace, they continue to revel in their role as the destroyers of Premier League title dreams.

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