Crystal Palace head into the international break in fine fettle having moved 11 points clear of the drop zone with a slender 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion.
The Eagles now look unlikely to be dragged into the relegation battle with that victory against the Baggies. Despite that, it had otherwise been a somewhat rollercoaster month for Roy Hodgson’s men. One man remained consistent throughout – that being Joel Ward – form that should see him scoop Palace’s Player of the Month gong for March.
In each of the three matches that the Eagles have played throughout the month – a 0-0 draw against Manchester United, a 4-1 defeat to Tottenham and the win against West Brom – the right-back has ranked right at the top of the team’s WhoScored ratings, playing every minute.
Whilst former Chelsea stalwart Gary Cahill has earned plenty of praise in that time, Ward has been a huge reason behind the team notching two clean sheets.
Over the matches in March, the £2.5m-rated 31-year-old has contributed six tackles, at an average of two per game. This was also added to with five interceptions as he was able to keeping the Red Devils and West Brom quiet.
Where Ward stood out specifically though was in his last-ditch defending having also contributed a huge 13 clearances throughout the three matches. Only Cahill beat that count with a monumental 21 of his own.
Whilst it could certainly be argued that the centre-back should be claiming the award, Ward was one of the rare players who actually came out of the heavy defeat against Tottenham with credit. Cahill, on the other hand, struggled on what was a tough afternoon for the majority of the Palace squad, being awarded a WhoScored rating of 5.64.
Having made his 250th appearance for the Eagles in September, Hodgson will hope that he can continue getting some excellent performances from the “very tough” Ward beyond the month of March following the international break.
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