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Crystal Palace: Patrick Vieira must unleash Vicente Guaita against Liverpool

Having played every minute of Crystal Palace’s opening 16 league games, Vicente Guaita has featured just twice in the Eagles’ last four games, with regular understudy Jack Butland starting to receive a few opportunities between the sticks.

The Spaniard was on the bench for Palace’s 2-2 draw at home to Southampton before Christmas and was absent entirely from the squad which lost 3-0 at Spurs on Boxing Day.

After returning between the sticks for the 3-0 win over Norwich and 3-2 defeat to West Ham, it was assumed that the 35-year-old had reclaimed his status as first-choice. However, Butland was once again preferred in the 2-1 FA Cup win at Millwall and the 1-1 derby stalemate at Brighton last weekend.

However, it is now time for Palace manager Patrick Vieira to reacquire the services of his former first-choice and keep Guaita in between the sticks for the remainder of the season, injury permitting.

In his cameo appearances, Butland hasn’t offered much to the Palace setup other than saving what was, in truth, a terrible penalty against Brighton last time out.

The 28-year-old made a howler against Millwall which had given the Championship outfit the lead before the Englishman’s blushes were spared in the second half as Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta turned the tie around for the visitors at The Den.

Whilst being in goal for the Eagles this season, Butland has conceded an average of 1.6 goals per game, whilst Guaita has let in 1.39 goals per game. Moreover, the Englishman is yet to keep a clean sheet this season, whilst the Spaniard has managed five.

According to SofaScore, Guaita is also superior when it comes to ball distribution, with a 78% passing accuracy per game compared to Butland’s 64%. Granted, the 28-year-old averages slightly more saves per game with three compared to the 35-year-old’s 2.8, but he has saved 60% of shots faced as opposed to his older team-mate’s 67%.

It is vital for teams to have a familiar face in between the sticks, especially for defenders so that they feel comfortable when they need to pass to their goalkeeper.

It’s no surprise that the only game Palace have won with Butland in goal was an FA Cup tie against a Championship side, whereas with Guaita on the pitch, the Eagles went on an impressive seven-game unbeaten run in the league during the autumn.

Indeed, last season the Spaniard was the subject of high praise from pundit Jermaine Beckford after an impressive performance against Everton. He stated that, with Guaita in their side, “Crystal Palace will pick up a lot more points”.

Former Palace manager Roy Hodgson was also a big fan of the Spanish ‘keeper, labelling him as “excellent” on one occasion.

The £57k-p/w veteran has made 114 appearances for the south London club since his move from Getafe in summer 2018, and he has now been the Eagles’ first choice between the sticks for the best part of four years.

There is little evidence as to why that should change for the remainder of the campaign.

In other news: This Palace ace returned to training ahead of the Liverpool clash

Article title: Crystal Palace: Patrick Vieira must unleash Vicente Guaita against Liverpool

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