There has been lots to like about Crystal Palace’s start to the current campaign, but one player is perhaps being overlooked for his integral contributions.
Several new signings and existing stars such as Odsonne Edouard and Wilfried Zaha have received plenty of plaudits for their eye-catching displays in the final third of the pitch, yet it’s the solid performances at the back that have arguably been more important.
Joachim Andersen arrived at Selhurst Park over the summer after Palace splashed out £20m to secure his services, raising a few eyebrows after his relegation with Fulham.
However, the Denmark international has soon silenced his doubters after putting in a string of impressive performances alongside Marc Guehi in the heart of defence.
As per SofaScore, the 25-year-old has won a whopping 27 duels in his 11 Premier League appearances, made 26 clearances, 18 interceptions and 12 tackles, highlighting his domineering displays at the back.
But it’s not just his defensive contributions that have proved so pivotal to the south London outfit’s success.
Andersen’s ability with the ball at his feet is crucial to how Vieira wants to play, allowing the capital club to build from the back, or play more directly when the opportunity presents itself.
He’s regularly been found firing diagonal, crossfield passes to either wing in order to quickly shift play and start attacks, and his underlying numbers are evidence of how effective they’ve been.
According to WhoScored, Andersen has averaged 6.5 long balls per league game this term – the highest tally amongst his teammates – and has averaged 67.8 passes per game, achieving a passing accuracy of 84.2%.
In a recent interview with football.london, Vieira was quizzed over how vital Andersen was in helping the Eagles play his preferred style.
“He is massively important. Joachim played in France, he played in Italy, he was in the Premier League last year. He has this experience of moving around and going to a new club,” Vieira said.
“When you want to have possession, and you have a centre-back who is really comfortable having the ball at his feet, it’s quite important. He will be a massive help for Marc to build his confidence, and he is doing really well.”
While the likes of Zaha deserve huge amounts of credit for putting the ball in the back of the opposition’s net on a regular basis, Andersen and co. deserve just as much for keeping it out of Palace’s, and the Scandinavian gem has been doing a stellar job of that in recent weeks.