Adam Bate takes an in-depth tactical look at Crystal Palace's 3-1 win over Sunderland at Selhurst Park on Saturday evening.
Danny Gabbidon diverted the ball over the line from a corner early in the first half to give the Eagles the lead and though substitute Steven Fletcher pulled one back after the break, one incident turned the game shortly afterwards.
John O'Shea was deceived by the bounce of the ball and fouled the alert Dwight Gayle inside the area, receiving a red card for the offence. Gayle netted from the resultant spot-kick to restore the lead and Stuart O'Keefe scored with a fine strike in stoppage time to seal the victory.
Here we take an in-depth look at the Saturday Night Football clash...
Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway went with the same back four that were beaten at Stoke City and gave home debuts to Jason Puncheon and Jose Campana. Dwight Gayle partnered Marouane Chamakh in attack.
"It will be interesting to see where they play him," said Jamie Redknapp before kick-off. "I'd like to see him a little bit closer to Chamakh."
Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio was forced into changes in attack after picking up just one point from the first two games of the season. Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham replaced Stephane Sessegnon and Jozy Altidore, while Steven Fletcher was fit enough to take his place on the bench.
"It is a chance for them to show their quality and show they can link with the rest of the team," Di Canio told Sky Sports when asked about his new strike pairing. Redknapp added of Wickham: "This is a chance for him to show what he can do. I'm expecting big things from him today."
Crystal Palace's wingers played far narrower than their Sunderland counterparts
Where it was won and lost
It was noticeable in the early stages that Palace were having some joy in their full-back positions with right-back Joel Ward to the fore.
"The problem for Sunderland is that Giaccherini is far too narrow here," said Davey Provan on commentary.
The Italy international's tendency to tuck inside allowed Ward the space to cross and win a corner inside the first 10 minutes from which Gabbidon unwittingly beat Keiren Westwood for the opening goal.
It was a poor goal for Sunderland to concede with nobody cutting it out at the near post, Westwood rooted the line and Jack Colback getting the clearance all wrong.
Even more alarmingly, it appears to be a trend. For while a Gabbidon goal is rare - this was his first in 116 Premier League games - Sunderland conceding from a set-piece is not. Di Canio's side have now done so in each of their first three games of the season and seven of the last 19 goals they've conceded have been from corners.
Given that no Premier League team had put in fewer crosses than Palace going into the game, Sunderland might have hoped to get away with it on Saturday. But they were not working hard enough to stop the home side. "Colback has had problems all game dealing with Joel Ward and Jason Puncheon," Redknapp noted at half-time. "He's not a left-back and Giaccherini has not done a job defensively at all."
Provan joined in the Giaccherini bashing. "He comes with real pedigree from Serie A and hasn't done it. Johnson on the other side hasn't done it," he said.
It was certainly a curiosity that while both sides were playing inverted wingers and Sunderland wide-men were failing to effectively track their full-backs, it was only the Palace players - Puncheon and Campana - who were getting involved centrally.
Their ability to do so, with Puncheon making more passes than any Sunderland player, helped Palace enjoy 53.5 per cent of possession in the first half.
Seven of Crystal Palace's eight first-half shots came from outside the box
Unfortunately for Palace, they failed to punish their opponents and that owed much to their wastefulness in attacking situations.
The atmosphere at Selhurst Park may have contributed to over-exuberance in front of goal and a host of players opted to shoot when in the general vicinity of goal rather than setting up better placed team-mates.
Seven of the eight Crystal Palace shots before the interval came from outside the box. The other one was the goal.
Jedinak has been outstanding so far. Player of year at Palace last season, ahead of Zaha and Murray.- Neil Ashton (@neilashton_) August 31, 2013
Mile Jedinak was as guilty as anyone, firing over in the latter stages of the first half when he had options left and right but the Palace midfielder still cut a hugely impressive figure in the centre of the pitch.
The Australian made more passes than anyone else and also produced the most tackles by a Palace player. David Vaughan and Sebastian Larsson were overpowered in the middle.
Long straight balls at Ji? Really?- Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) August 31, 2013
In fact, Sunderland looked a disjointed team and it was difficult to see any wisdom to their tactics in the early stages. The Black Cats played 26 long balls in the first half an hour of the game with Westwood alone launching 10 balls forward. Only half found their target.
Indeed, the relative performance of the forwards was a key factor in Palace's success before the interval. Ji won just one aerial duel in the first half and Wickham three. Chamakh won six for the home side. "Wickham has not brought people into play," said Redknapp.
Keiren Westwood opted to kick it long for Sunderland
That changed in the second half thanks in part to the introduction of Fletcher, playing under Di Canio for the first time. It was Ji who made way but in truth it could have been either of the Sunderland frontmen with Wickham's pass completion of 61 per cent a particular problem.
With Fletcher on the pitch, Sunderland enjoyed 60 per cent possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half. But it wasn't just his hold-up play. The Scot showed once again that he is a lethal finisher, heading in the 64th minute equaliser after being involved in the build-up.
Fletcher threw himself at that in the instinctive way that Ji didn't in the first half.- Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) August 31, 2013
Steven Fletcher made a difference with his link-up play and finishing
Palace appeared content to soak up the pressure and play on the break at that stage. They remained a threat too and there was a warning when Gayle almost nipped in behind Modibo Diakite.
It wasn't heeded as John O'Shea was outfoxed by the spin on a ball that rebounded back to him via Colback and Gayle stole in ahead of him. The forward was pulled down. Penalty. And a red card. Gayle duly converted and it was no more than he deserved.
The signing of the 22-year-old was surely one of the more questionable of the transfer window given that the youngster was available so recently at a fraction of the cost. It's been a dramatic rise to the top flight but Holloway will have been hugely encouraged by this performance.
After doing a defensive job for the side in the team's opening fixtures, it was particularly noticeable that Gayle did his work in central areas against Sunderland. He showed here that he has the pace to worry even defenders with the experience of O'Shea.
And to cap it all, Stuart O'Keefe's late goal came from outside the area - finally Palace's shooting policy from distance was justified. A memorable day for the Palace fans then. And a worrying one for Paolo Di Canio.
Dwight Gayle worked almost exclusively in central areas against Sunderland
Everybody writes us off but we're actually level on goal difference now. We have shown real strength of character. It was great and thoroughly deserved. With this group and the way they can defend I'm optimistic to say the least. We just need to get some strength in depth to help these boys. Dwight Gayle also showed a lot of strength to take the penalty. He's getting better all the time and just learning to live with the price tag. I think he's a fantastic player and his movement is great.
It is obvious that this hurt me and everyone else. When you concede a goal like that (second goal) you cannot be happy. There is a job to do because in terms of football we were on top for long periods of the game. But if my players individually are going to concede a goal like we did today then we have to be worried. It was not a dangerous situation, just a rebound by the touchline. But the ball finished behind my leader (captain) and he didn't react how he should. That is terrible because this game was crucial for us. We were on top and played well so to concede a goal the way we did was absolutely poor.
A lot of criticism will fall at Paolo Di Canio's door step after that performance. The players let him down today. I look at Giaccherini looks a real homer. When you need to dig in away you need good characters and I didn't see him today. I didn't see enough from Adam Johnson either. I think the players need to stand up and take responsibility for that. As for Dwight Gayle, imagine how good he feels. Just over a year ago he was playing non-league for Bishops Stortford and now he's mixing with the big boys. He was excellent today. For Sunderland, the return of Steven Fletcher was the only good news for them as there weren't a hell of a lot of other positives out there.
Jason Puncheon caused a lot of problems for the Sunderland defence with his direct running and earned the Barclays man of the match award but our vote goes to Danny Gabbidon. The experienced Wales international scored his first ever Premier League goal but also defended doggedly for the home side, making an astonishing 19 clearances for his side. It is an oft-repeated comment that newly-promoted sides need to score goals but defensive weaknesses did for Holloway's Blackpool in 2011. With Gabbidon at the back, his Palace team have a better chance of survival.
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