Crystal Palace secured a famous victory against Manchester City over the weekend to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three.
The result ended a run of four consecutive draws for Patrick Vieira’s charges and cemented the progress that’s been made during the Frenchman’s short reign.
In just a few months, Vieira has transformed the playing squad and style of play in south London significantly, and now the results are beginning to match their performances on the pitch.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure Palace’s long-term success.
Several experienced campaigners such as Vicente Guaita, Joel Ward and 34-year-old James McArthur are still being heavily relied upon by Palace, but the natural heir to their ageing Scottish midfielder could already be at the club.
Over the summer, Will Hughes was one of many new faces to arrive at the capital club, but unlike many of the latest acquisitions, he’s yet to make his mark for Vieira’s charges.
In fact, the combative 26-year-old hasn’t played a single minute for Palace, leading to questions being asked over his current and future role at the club by supporters.
After being asked for his thoughts on Hughes’ situation by a fan on Twitter, The Athletic’s Palace reporter Matt Woosnam offered his thoughts.
“Thoughts on the Will Hughes situation? @MattWoosie,” wrote @rileyeagles, before another supporter added: “Do you think he’s the replacement for Jimmy Mac, but he’s currently undroppable?”
Woosnam then replied to the two fans, saying: “Basically this. He’s a long-term McArthur replacement. Will write about him at some point.”
And it’s easy to understand why Vieira currently feels McArthur is undroppable from his starting XI at this moment in time.
As per WhoScored, the former Wigan Athletic ace has averaged 2.2 tackles per league game this term, 1.1 interceptions and 1.7 defensive dribbles, placing him in the top-four for each metric when compared to his teammates.
Nevertheless, Hughes is also capable of adding some steal to the middle of the park when called upon and earned some staunch praise from former teammate Adrian Mariappa after impressing at Vicarage Road.
“He’s an outstanding player. To see the quality he’s got, he has so much flair and is a terrific player,” said Mariappa.
During Hughes’ last full season in the Premier League during 2019/20, the former England U21 international put up some impressive figures, averaging 2.5 tackles per game, 1.2 interceptions and 1.4 defensive dribbles, indicating he has the quality to continue McArthur’s good work.
Therefore, Vieira must unleash the £6.3m-rated beast sooner rather than later or risk losing him before he’s had a chance to showcase his credentials in a Palace shirt.