James Tomkins impresses with commanding defensive display against Man United

Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

Since a summer 2016 move to Selhurst Park from West Ham, James Tomkins has become a key player for Crystal Palace at the heart of defence.

The 29-year-old recorded his best performance in red and blue so far this season in a 0-0 stalemate with Manchester United on Saturday as he kept the Red Devils out, alongside Mamadou Sakho, to earn both a well deserved clean sheet and a point at Old Trafford.

Having endured a tough run of fixtures that saw the Eagles take just one point from games with three of the big six, Roy Hodgson can feel aggrieved to have not taken all three from Mourinho’s men as the visitors missed a few golden chances to stun United, but positives can still be drawn from Tomkins’ colossal performance in defence.

The Englishman read the game well and used his excellent positional sense to make up for his lack of pace – a flaw that might have been punished by the likes of Marcus Rashford – as he completed four interceptions, while also making the Palace box a fortress as he cleared his lines a whopping ten times and won four aerial duels (WhoScored).

As assured with the ball as he was without it, the 6-foot-3 centre-back also finished the game with a passing success rate of 77% – a statistic that is important when facing big teams as mistakes in possession tend to be punished.

Matteo Darmian and Patrick van Aanholt

The hosts appeared to wake up in the final 20 minutes or so as they brought on fresh legs, but Tomkins showed no signs of mental or physical fatigue as he kept concentration to block a Rashford strike and keep the tie level.

Palace are preparing for a visit from Burnley this weekend and Hodgson will be hoping for more of the same from his number 5.

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