All of the time: Return of the Makh

Croydon Guardian: Over-critical: Marouane Chamakh is starting to prove his doubters wrong                 SP78370 Over-critical: Marouane Chamakh is starting to prove his doubters wrong SP78370

Critics have been exceptionally harsh about Marouane Chamakh this season.

To begin with, I think his regrettable hairstyle makes it easier for insults to roll off spiteful tongues.

When you put his goal-scoring record together with his coiffure choice, he becomes a pathetically easy target for ridicule. Until now.

Well his hair might remain pretty dreadful, but what his detractors are starting to recognise is that our Moroccan forward is having an amazing influence on this Palace team, especially during the last two or three weeks.

Maybe the fact that in footballing circles he’s about as fashionable as Tony Pulis has had something to do with his recent improvement.

The statistics used for Chamakh’s condemnation have been unfair. Anyone who has watched more than one Palace game this season will have seen the forward hold up play, initiate attacks, win aerial battles over and over again, bring others into play and provide the composure on the ball we’ve sorely needed.

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It’s just that our deep play has meant he’s had to function more as an advanced midfielder than an out and out striker; hence the lack of shots.

His touch of class coupled with a nascent eye for goal is a mouth-watering combination. I can’t wait until he continues to prove the doubters wrong (so I don’t have to keep arguing his case to MOTD-biased, armchair analysers).

I never thought I’d have this smile on my face in early December. Yet we not only did what we needed to do in three of the past four games – but we got results we had hoped for but never really expected.

As brilliant and dangerous as the Eagles were against Cardiff, we were just as poor and disjointed against West Ham. Nevertheless, somehow we won both games!

On the train before Cardiff, a Stetson-wearing Palace fan and I agreed that the West Ham result had brought home to us how little we actually care about performances – when we can win matches while playing terribly.

Little did we know that two hours later Palace would be rewarding our newfound pragmatism with a combination of both; a victory and a great display of all-round teamwork, solidity and attacking prowess.

Next opponents Chelsea lost to Stoke on Saturday, which is sure to make them more determined to be ruthless when we travel to Stamford Bridge this weekend. But I still can't wait.

I’m sure, like most Palace fans raised in south London, I know far more Chelsea fans than supporters of our rivals like Brighton or Millwall.

Which from a personal perspective makes the tie feel a lot more like a local derby than it should do.

But considering Chelsea’s reputation and form at home, even a point in west London would feel like a mini cup win.

I’m just thankful that with our recent run of results we can play them with no fear and nothing to lose.

The pressure is firmly on the The Pensioners to get a result against a lowly club like Palace.

Click here for more pictures from Palace's 2-0 win over Cardiff

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