Crystal Palace

Unsung Hero: Gary Cahill sees Palace into top four

Unsung Hero: Gary Cahill sees Palace into top four

Crystal Palace are sitting fourth in the Premier League: it’s a moment for all of their fans to enjoy. It’s not often the Eagles see themselves in the top four – even after just four matches – so they should savour it while they can.

The season didn’t start so positively. A scoreless draw at Selhurst to Everton gave them a well-earned point before a dismal performance saw them lose 1-0 Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Just two weeks on and the club have won at Old Trafford and beaten Aston Villa in their own backyard.

And one player has definitely made a huge impact: Gary Cahill. Palace have won two out of five matches this campaign – both of which Cahill started, the only two games he has started this season.

On Saturday, a top performance from Palace was rounded off with a 1-0 win versus Aston Villa. Jordan Ayew rightly took the plaudits; it was his goal that won the game and he was all over the pitch versus his ex-team.

However, even with Villa narrowly missing out on nicking a point with the end of match antics, it was a great performance starting from the back with Palace. And at the centre of it, Gary Cahill.

The defender won more aerial duels than any other Palace defender with three, had an 89 per cent pass success rate, and soaked up 6.4 per cent of the total possession in the match – more than any other Palace defender and the second-most in the squad, according to WhoScored.

Over the course of the match, Cahill was a really important player for Palace, regularly snuffing out danger and showing expert leadership skills to help the club get the three points. Football.London agreed, stating that he “showed his leadership skills again as he marshalled the Palace backline, barely putting a foot wrong in another fine display. 8”.

It’s an encouraging sign for Palace fans that Cahill is showing so much promise so early in his career at the club. It has taken the ease off Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins – Palace’s previous defensive pair – who have been unable to play together this season due to injuries.

For context, in four games for the Eagles, they have conceded the least amount in the league – with no other club conceding less than three goals, all despite missing their two starting centre-backs and not reinvesting in another right-back post-Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

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