Crystal Palace journey ends but have they potential to compete long term?

Palace are pretty much the only side worth speaking of in South London so that's a catchment area of, what, four million? Imagine a super new stadium packed with 50,000 screaming Eagles?
Crystal Palace journey ends but have they potential to compete long term?

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira applauds the fans after the final whistle in the Emirates FA Cup semi final match at Wembley Stadium, London. John Walton/PA Wire.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, or so they say. Although in this case it's actually buy 'em.

Josh Harris and David Blitzer, the Americans who part own Crystal Palace, spent most of the run up to the FA Cup semi-final trying to wriggle into a position to take over the opposition.

Should their consortium emerge victorious in the battle to replace Roman Abramovich then they will have to dispose of their Selhurst Park shareholding, thought to be just over 20%.

Already it seems that John Textor, who has a 40% stake in Palace, has agreed to pick up the tab.

Which makes perfect sense if you are an American businessman, which Textor is as well.

Who is the bigger name in world football? The World Club Champions and still just about current Champions League holders of course. A no brainer if ever there was one. Harris and Blitzer must be relishing swapping scruffy South London for the swanky West End.

If only they weren't though.

Just imagine if they were watching at Wembley thinking instead how they could turn the club they have already invested in into something that could challenge Chelsea. Something new and exciting.

Now, I know what you are thinking: why bother with a club like Palace? Great fans who make a great noise but no pedigree. No history, no trophies. The ground has hardly changed since Ian Wright and Co contested FA Cup semis and as for who they see as their deadliest rivals...Brighton and Hove Albion!

Who wouldn't want to say goodbye to midtable mediocrity and such limited ambition in the stands? Wembley once a decade or even longer? No thanks.

But the other side of that coin is a shiny one. Palace are pretty much the only side worth speaking of in South London so that's a catchment area of, what, four million? Imagine a super new stadium packed with 50,000 screaming Eagles?

And how about an Academy to rival Chelsea's? Palace have made strides there in recent seasons and again it is all already there on their doorstep - the cage pitches of South London is producing a stream of young players who are both tough and technically gifted. Imagine if they all made a B-line to the New Selhurst?

But, nah, taking over where Roman left off is more elite isn't it? Never mind that Patrick Vieira is making great strides with young, exciting players in his first season as a Premier League manager, let's help Thomas Tuchel win some more trophies.

And help the German will most certainly need.

Romelu Lukaku started on the bench because he was not fit enough to play 90 minutes, or so the German said beforehand anyway.

It is unlikely last summer's marquee signing would have been picked anyway, so poor has he been in his much-vaunted Stamford Bridge comeback. Selling on hundred million-plus Euro flops will certainly be something new for Blitzer and Harris, should they get the chance.

The much-heralded renaissance of Timo Werner, following goals against Southampton and Real Madrid, did not manifest itself at Wembley until the second half, when the German began to use his pace to get in behind the Palace back line.

As for fellow countryman Kai Havertz, his most memorable moment before setting up the opening goal was a first-half yellow card for a dive right in front of referee Anthony Taylor.

It is fair to say that Chelsea were suffering from exactly the same problem as Manchester City had the day before: having to play a high-intensity Champions League clash for the highest stakes inevitably drains even the best. And Chelsea had to clock up 120 minutes in Madrid on Tuesday night.

The enigma that is Ruben Loftus-Cheek finally saved us from two hours of this one with his first goal since 2019, which was also in semi-final - a Europa League one against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Tuchel had spent time before the game stating that the England midfielder, once on loan at Palace, needed to turn potential into product now he is 26. Tuchel had previously employed him as a right wing-back, with mixed results, but it was injury to Mateo Kovacic midway through the first half that allowed him to play in the position to which he is most suited, central midfield.

Gareth Southgate, watching in the stands, must have been impressed with the quality of finish from a man he had not picked for England for four years. Not so much with recent cap Tyrick Mitchell though. The left back was dispossessed to allow Havertz to set up the goal.

Mason Mount made it two soon after and the status quo was conserved. Shame really, but no surprise.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy 6; Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 7, Rudiger 7; James 7, Jorginho 6 (Kante 78, 4), Kovacic 5 (Loftus-Cheek 26, 7), Alonso 6; Werner 7, Mount 6 (Ziyech 77, 4); Havertz 6 (Lukaku 77, 4).

Subs: Kepa, Silva, Sarr, Saul, Pulisic.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Butland 6; Ward 6, Andersen 6, Guehi 7, Mitchell 6; Kouyate 6, McArthur 6 (Benteke 73, 5), Schlupp 6 (Olise 73, 5); Eze 6, Mateta 6 (Ayew 55, 6), Zaha 6.

Subs: Guaita, Clyne, Kelly, Tomkins, Milivojevic, Edouard.

Referee: Anthony Taylor 6.

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