Murray return may pen perfect Palace fairytale

Posted by Jim Daly

Ibson trainingGettyImagesGlenn Murray is closing in on his Premier League debut for Crystal Palace. No more #ACLclub for him.

They may have watched their side lose rather routinely at Arsenal on Sunday but afterwards Tony Pulis gave Palace fans the greatest present they could hope for -- the return of Glenn Murray.

After more than eight months out with a ruptured knee, Murray is poised to return to the Palace side, and Eagles fans couldn't be happier. It's like hearing a knock at your door, opening it and seeing a long lost friend on the doorstep.

Muzza was top scorer last season, banging in 31 goals and being the first player to pass the 30-mark since Andy Johnson almost a decade earlier, but disaster struck in the playoff semifinal against Brighton when he twisted nastily and shattered his knee.

Fans were originally told to wait a year before seeing Murray back in action due to the severity of his injury but it looks like he could now play an important part in the club's battle against relegation.

Goals are the big problem for Palace this season, with just FIVE netted away from home in the league (by comparison Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero have both scored seven on the road) and last season Murray was the main source of goals for the Eagles. Ian Holloway and Tony Pulis have both failed to replace him in the transfer market, although it's true that Palace are playing a much more defensive game compared to last year a league below. But there have still been plenty of missed chances that Muzza would have hoovered up.

Against Arsenal on Saturday, Palace had one glorious chance (compared to three or four a game last season) but Cameron Jerome nodded the ball right at Wojciech Szczesny when it looked to all the world like he would equalise. Murray would have relished that sort of opportunity and, I'm confident he would have buried it.

It's almost like having a new signing, and Murray's recovery is reportedly one of the reasons Pulis wasn't too bothered about buying a striker in the January transfer window. He confirmed Murray will be included in the 25-man squad he has to pick for the remainder of the season and should Muzza get a place on the bench or even a run out against West Brom at Selhurst on Saturday, the atmosphere will be nothing short of electric.

And yet Murray is a shy sort of guy who would probably hate that. He is an old fashioned footballer, a quiet northern lad who just wants to turn up to training each day, do his business and then go home. He doesn't court attention or any of the other trapping of top-flight football, he's a nice lad. He has even showed admirable humour with his terrible injury, coining the hashtag #ACLClub on Twitter and chirpily tweeting support to Palace each match day.

Sunday's defeat at Arsenal was almost a write off, it wasn't a game Palace would have targeted for points although fantastic away performances at Chelsea and Manchester City would have given them confidence that they could possibly sneak a point.

However on the day Palace were poor, and perhaps overawed by the occasion (the first time that has really happened this season). Even the stalwarts like Joel Ward had off days, although it was Wardy's first game back at right-back after two months in midfield and he appeared rusty. With the arrival of Joe Ledley I expect Ward to return to his regular berth in the back four but he'll need to reclaim his form from earlier in the season!

It's a cliche (and I bloody love a football cliche) but Palace need to beat the teams around them in the table and not worry too much about trips to top four teams. They have done just that in recent weeks with wins over Stoke and Hull and with a massive game against West Brom at the weekend, the Arsenal game shouldn't really bother many Eagles fans.

It would be the perfect story if Glenn Murray returns to action and scores the goal that keeps Palace in the top flight after all his efforts to get the team there last season, and the first chapter of that book can be written this weekend against the Baggies. Let's begin then: Once upon a time…


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