Crystal Palace secured their first win under new manager Patrick Vieira in emphatic fashion over the weekend, seeing off Tottenham Hotspur 3-0.
A brace from summer signing Odsonne Edouard following his late introduction and Wilfried Zaha’s return to form stole the headlines at Selhurst Park, but it was arguably their defensive showing that really showed the most promise.
The Eagles began 2021/22 with a disappointing defeat away at Chelsea when they conceded three goals without reply, yet there’s been plenty of improvements since.
An overhaul of the first-team squad saw experienced centre-backs Gary Cahill, Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho depart south London over the summer as Vieira opted for a more youthful approach.
In their place arrived 21-year-old Marc Guehi and 25-year-old Joachim Andersen from Chelsea and Lyon, respectively.
Andersen was unavailable from the off for the curtain-raising loss at Stamford Bridge, and his introduction into the starting XI had an instant impact, with Palace holding newly-promoted Brentford to a goalless draw the following week.
Although West Ham United managed to get two strikes past them in another closely contested draw, Saturday’s magnificent display saw Palace pick up their second clean sheet of the campaign, something they only managed to do on eight occasions in the entirety of last term.
And the blossoming partnership between Guehi and Andersen is largely to thank for that. The £28.8m–rated duo appear to have a natural understanding of each other’s game after only a few appearances alongside each other, illustrated by their impressive underlying numbers.
In his four league outings, Guehi has averaged one tackle per game, 0.5 interceptions and 3.8 clearances, whereas his Danish colleague has managed 0.8 tackles, 0.8 interceptions and two clearances, as per SofaScore.
But they’ve both also show promise with the ball at their feet. Palace’s England Under-21 international defender has achieved a passing accuracy of 88%, losing possession just 8.8 times, compared to Andersen’s highly respectable tallies of 84% and 10.5.
Keeping the two new arrivals fit could be crucial to the capital club’s success this season and Vieira will be desperately hoping they continue to produce some dominant displays on a regular basis, providing a solid foundation for his promising Palace side to build on.