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Pardew rues ´blurred focus´ at United as Wembley date looms large

Alan Pardew admits Crystal Palace were distracted by their looming FA Cup semi-final during Wednesday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester United.

Having battled to a 1-1 draw at Arsenal at the weekend and with a clash with Watford at Wembley coming up on Sunday, Pardew opted to rest a number of players at Old Trafford in what proved to be a wholly one-sided affair.

Damien Delaney’s early own goal was added to by a fierce Matteo Darmian strike as United cruised to a win, with the scoreline kept respectable by a fine performance from Julian Speroni in the Palace goal.

And manager Pardew felt that the setback of the early goal, and thoughts of Sunday’s game, proved to be the undoing of his side.

“I was disappointed to concede as we did – it was avoidable, and took some ambitions out of us,” he said.

“They had a lot of offensive players which caused us a lot of problems, but they made it difficult to get up the pitch, get some possession and try to have some game time.

“After the Arsenal performance it was difficult to get the same energy. But the FA Cup is a big event for Man United. For us, it’s a huge event.

“I could see a bit of blurred focus from my players, and that’s understandable – some of these guys may never get the chance to get to a final.”

Pardew was happy to give valuable game time to some of his players ahead of the trip to Wembley, including Emmanuel Adebayor, Connor Wickham and James McArthur, who suffered a serious ankle injury in February.

Indeed, the former Newcastle United boss admits he could be tempted to start McArthur on Sunday, such has been his attitude in coming back to full fitness.

“We had two or three knocks, Scott Dann being our biggest worry,” he said.

“We got some good game time – Adebayor played 70 minutes, Wickham got some game time, McArthur got some game time – we’ve really missed him.

“I’d start no other player after that length of time other than him. He has a tremendous mentality, tremendous fitness. He’s a player I really admire.”

Pardew went on to praise Speroni for his performance, saying he will give the 36-year-old the chance to surpass John Jackson’s club record of 388 appearances in goal.

“It’s a tribute to him; he’s such a great pro,” he added. “I knew he’d play well because he trains well. He has two games to beat Jackson’s record this year and I am determined he would get them.”

Wed 20 Apr, 2016
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