Palace plough on
Pulis' men dent Everton's top-4 hopes despite Cardiff's spy talk
REPORTING FROM THE UK
(Steven Naismith 61, Kevin Mirallas 86)
CRYSTAL PALACE 3
(Jason Puncheon 23, Scott Dann 49, Cameron Jerome 73)
It would be appropriate to say that Cardiff City's season is descending into chaos, were it not for the fact that chaos has dogged the Bluebirds since the early stages of the season.
Three points from safety with four games to go, only one thing seems certain. Cardiff will not be relegated quietly.
According to the BBC, the Welsh club's lawyers have sent a letter to the Premier League complaining about the conduct of Crystal Palace in the build-up to their meeting earlier this month and demanding that the match is declared void and replayed.
Palace thrashed Cardiff 3-0, but Malaysian owner Vincent Tan is furious and believes that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team line-up was leaked to the opposition.
The news has rather overshadowed an extraordinary result for Palace, a 3-2 victory over Everton that has effectively secured their survival in the Premier League.
Everton, having won seven consecutive games, were runaway favourites for yesterday morning's (Singapore time) clash, but that slip hands the initiative back to Arsenal in the race for a Champions League place.
Palace, for their part, have now won four games back-to-back, an outstanding run of form that seemed quite unlikely at the start of November when they had played 10 and lost nine of their league games.
At that stage in the season, Cardiff had 12 points in the bag and looked set for a comfortable first season in the Premier League. How times change.
The Premier League has confirmed that it is investigating Cardiff's complaint and is treating it with the utmost seriousness, not least because it was reported that Cardiff believe the leak was a concerted act of espionage ordered by manager Tony Pulis and carried out by sporting director Iain Moody.
There is history between Tan and Moody, of course.
After an internal investigation into an underwhelming tranche of summer spending, Moody was summarily dismissed by Cardiff in October.
The decision tore the club apart.
Manager Malky Mackay was furious at the sacking of his lieutenant, there was an extended period of in-fighting at the club and he was finally dismissed after the Boxing Day defeat to Southampton.
Solskjaer was hired in January and Moody was recruited by Palace.
It is Tan's assertion that this match was Moody's chance to avenge himself against his former employers, a chance he was only too happy to take.
Palace, for their part, have refused to comment, stating only that they do not wish to give the complaint the oxygen of publicity.
Elsewhere, there is widespread scepticism for two major reasons.
If Pulis did receive information regarding the Cardiff team, he didn't do much with it.
Palace fielded exactly the same starting 11 who played against Chelsea the week before.
While the argument that you don't have to change a line-up to change a team is sound, Palace are a very regimented outfit.
They keep tight lines, defend well and use one striker behind the other, to supplement the midfield out of possession and to win high balls when possession is regained.
Pulis is an excellent manager, but he doesn't shift and reshape his team regularly like, for example, Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool or Everton's Roberto Martinez.
There is also the feeling within the game that this sort of thing has existed for many years.
Because of the tangled web of personnel in football, everyone knows someone everywhere.
Favours are called in and exchanged. Players leak line-ups to journalists frequently, knowing their actions will bring favourable reporting in the future.
Cardiff may yet have a legitimate complaint, but to many in the game, it looks like a last, desperate throw of the dice.
The results of the Premier League's investigation will make for fascinating reading.