Having secured their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in midweek with a 2-1 win over Championship side Stoke City, Crystal Palace are back in Premier League action tomorrow with an away clash against Wolves.
In terms of who Eagles boss Patrick Vieira could pick to be in his starting XI to take on the Midlands club, one figure that didn’t start Palace’s previous league game against Burnley that did feature in midweek that should be in the team is midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.
Not only did the midfielder, who has been described as “massively important” to the team by his manager, start in midweek, but he also managed to get his name on the scoresheet to help get his side through to the next stage of the FA Cup, as well as racking up 39 passes out of 43 attempted.
The 32-year-old also managed to keep his team in the competition by making three interceptions, two clearances and winning five of the eight duels he was involved in. That ultimately earned him an overall match rating of 7.4, the joint-highest of any Palace player on the day according to SofaScore, higher than Jairo Riedewald, who scored the winning goal in the late stages of the tie.
As well as the match on Tuesday, the Senegal international has shown throughout this season in the Premier League how important he is to the south London club, with WhoScored listing him as the fourth-highest rated player at Selhurst Park with an overall rating of 6.79.
Taking into account how the Old Gold have lost their two previous league games, they will be desperate to pick up all three points this time around to keep their hopes of securing European football alive and thus, Kouyate will be key to ensuring that it’s Palace who come away smiling at the end of the 90 minutes.
If the home side go all-out in an attacking sense, it would make sense for Vieira to start Kouyate in this instance considering he’s managed to rack up two tackles per game and the highest number of interceptions per match (1.5) than any of his teammates in 2021/22.
His defensive capabilities could then make the £67k-per-week midfielder the difference between the south London club coming away with a positive result or another defeat.