Crystal Palace may have struggled to a dull 1-1 draw with Premier League rivals Brighton in the A23 derby, but one player stood out from the rest.
Roy Hodgson heaped praise upon Gary Cahill following an impressive display after his return from injury at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.
He told Palace TV: “First of all he’s a very, very good defender.
“His position is very good, he’s exceptionally good in the air, he’s a strong challenger for the ball and a very good blocker of the ball. These are the defensive qualities we don’t talk about every day… They’re the qualities that get you the clean sheets.
Hodgson has options at the back once again as Cahill, James Tomkins and Patrick van Aanholt have worked their way back from fitness. But the former Chelsea man showed his value as the Eagles secured a point against the Seagulls.
It’s safe to say that Cahill has turned out to be one of the club’s best buys in recent memory. The 34-year-old, who previously played for Bolton, Burnley and Everton, made 290 appearances for the Blues, scored 25 goals and supplied 7 assists, whilst he won the Premier League twice, the Champions League, two Europa League trophies and the FA Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge, via Transfermarkt.
Since then, the former 61-cap England international has played 28 games for Palace, and made 25 appearances in the English top flight last term, whilst he averaged 1 block and 4.4 clearances per game, via WhoScored.
SofaScore gave him a high grade of 7.1 for his efforts – if you look at his heatmap, you can see that he was most active inside the box, which explains why he made four clearances, two blocked shots, two tackles, whilst he only lost possession six times, won 100% of his ground duels, and four out of eight of his aerial duels, which shows that he was a threat in the air as well.
SkySports gave Cahill a 7/10 rating, which is fairly accurate, whilst football.london gave him the same score, claiming he “looked comfortable in the opening stages on his return, marshalling the defence well” but “could have picked up an injury late on due to Dunk’s ferocious tackle.”
Palace had a promising start to the season, before back-to-back defeats culminated in a 4-0 defeat to his former side Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before the international break. Whilst Hodgson’s side once again failed to keep a clean sheet, Cahill seems to have shaken off any concerns, which could bode well for the future.
Once lauded as an “exceptional” professional footballer by Steve Parish, the Palace chairman must secure his future at Selhurst Park, as his current contract is set to expire in 2021. If his performance is anything to by, the £2.25m-rated veteran must start against Fulham at all costs.
AND in other news, Roy Hodgson must unleash Crystal Palace ace Eberechi Eze against Fulham…