Cheikhou Kouyate put in a stellar performance for Crystal Palace, despite coming out of the game with a 1-0 loss against Newcastle United.
On the chalkboard
Crystal Palace had a defensive crisis of sorts before their match against Newcastle United, with Mamadou Sakho banned, while Joel Ward, Scott Dann and Jeffrey Schlupp were all ruled out through injury, as reported by The Daily Mail.
In addition, Jairo Riedeweld had been a doubt for the game but was eventually included on the bench, though he didn’t get onto the pitch.
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The lack of defensive options was highlighted by the fact that 21-year-old reserve centre-back Sam Woods featured on the bench, while Kouyate started at the heart of Palace’s defence.
There may have been concerns when it first came to light that the Senegal international was dropping back, but he did not look out of place, despite the team eventually losing.
As he lined up alongside his former West Ham United teammate James Tomkins, it signalled the first time the 30-year-old has played as a centre-back for Palace.
However, he had previously done so for the Hammers, filling the position 20 times, from which seven clean sheets were kept, including one in a 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur.
The clean sheet may have been robbed from him this time around, as Miguel Almiron unleashed a well-hit half-volley that went past Vicente Guaita, but he still put in a solid performance, as shown by the statistics below.
What makes his three successful tackles impressive is that they came from the only three that he attempted throughout the game.
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He was not quite as successful in the air though, as he lost out in three of the five duels he contested – though that can perhaps be forgiven when it is considered that he was up against Andy Carroll and Joelinton.
That he was also able to maintain a pass success rate of 98% – misplacing just one of his 44 attempted passes – indicates just how comfortable he was at the back.
While there will likely be frustration from Roy Hodgson at seeing his team lose to a late goal, he can take some encouragement from Kouyate’s performance in defence.
In other news, a Palace midfielder has been criticised for their performance against Newcastle.