Crystal Palace outshine Norwich to go ninth
Crystal Palace climbed into the top half of the Premier League after easing to victory against Norwich City at Selhurst Park.
Three first-half goals from Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeffrey Schlupp condemned the Canaries to the foot of the table at the end of 2021.
The visitors started brightly but found themselves a goal down after eight minutes when Kenny McLean fouled Will Hughes in the area and Edouard converted from the spot for his first goal since October.
Palace took charge from there with Hughes their driving force. He sprung forward and slipped in Mateta, who could only find the side-netting.
Mateta made it 2-0 with his first goal of the season seven minutes before half-time. Edouard pulled out to the left and played in a low cross that Mateta placed past Angus Gunn with superb precision.
Just seconds earlier, Jacob Sorensen squandered a superb chance for Norwich at the other end, and four minutes later, Schlupp added a third with a powerful finish from a tight angle.
Sam Byram clipped the top of the crossbar with a header in stoppage time, but Norwich’s defensive issues had already given them a mountain to climb.
Gunn did his best to keep the score down with an excellent double save to deny Schlupp and then Mateta in the second half, while Vicente Guaita was forced into rare action by a Przemyslaw Placheta strike.
Canaries struggling badly at both ends
Norwich boss Dean Smith knew how difficult the job would be when he arrived at Carrow Road in November, but his side appear devoid of any inspiration at the moment.
There were good spells of possession, particularly early on, and a couple of half chances, but Palace were not really troubled at any point.
With no Teemu Pukki or Todd Cantwell in the side, their task was made even tougher, but they have now lost five games in succession without scoring a goal and conceding 14.
The Norwich fans even resorting to singing: “Lets’ pretend we scored a goal!” and it neatly summed up another tough afternoon in what is becoming a nightmarish season.
Eagles fly high without Zaha
Although Covid-19 meant he could not be at the game, manage Patrick Vieira’s influence on Palace was clearly on show again. They are much more energetic in attack this season, playing on the front foot rather than the counter-attack, particularly at home.
It is now nine successive games at Selhurst Park in which they’ve scored, and although they were helped by calamitous Norwich defending, there was a real purpose in their play.
And while they were without the suspended Wilfried Zaha, on whom they have relied so heavily in recent years, and the impressive Conor Gallagher, the likes of Hughes, Edouard and Mateta picked up the baton seamlessly to deliver an accomplished performance.