Crystal Palace supporters in the Transfer Tavern have been in high spirits in recent times after seeing their side kick off the 2018/19 Premier League season with victory on Saturday.
Roy Hodgson’s men recorded a hugely respectable 11th place finish in the English top-flight last time round and will be looking to improve upon that this term, although faced a tough assignment in newly-promoted Fulham on the opening weekend. Yet the Eagles produced a fine display to secure all three points at Craven Cottage, with goals from Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha sealing victory for Palace in their first match of the new season.
And while both Schlupp and Zaha deserve great credit for getting the crucial goals in West London on Saturday, it was £7.2 million-rated star James Tomkins (as per Transfermarkt) who was the club’s unsung hero at Craven Cottage this weekend.
Ultimately, the 29-year-old has proven to be something of a revelation since making the move across London from West Ham back in 2016, and he again produced a masterful display at the back to help Palace to all three points in what was a relatively even game at Craven Cottage.
The centre back won all five of his aerial duels to underline his prowess in the air in stopping Fulham get any joy in the final third, while his pass success rate of 89% was extremely impressive and emphasised his control with the ball at his feet.
And with 11 clearances, the most of any Palace player on the pitch, over the course of the 90 minutes, it’s clear that Tomkins did the defensive things extremely well on Saturday to help keep out a Fulham side full of confidence after winning promotion, and indeed spending big during the summer.
Notable mentions must also go to the efforts of full backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Patrick van Aanholt, both of whom were outstanding down the flanks and provided the assists for messrs Schlupp and Zaha, as well as goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, as whenever the Fulham backline did manage to get past the impressive Tomkins, they found the Welshman in the way.
So while Schlupp and Zaha got the goals that earned the victory, and as such have earned several plaudits in the aftermath of the win, it was the defensive resilience shown by the back four, Tomkins in particular, which helped pave the way for Palace to get off the mark with all three points on Saturday.
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