This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Gary Cahill was superb for Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Eagles drew 0-0 with Watford at Vicarage Road but they were perhaps lucky to escape with a point.
Per WhoScored, the Hornets, currently bottom of the Premier League, had 13 shots on goal to Palace’s three, routinely carving out chances.
Cahill, though, was in supreme form in central defence.
He had 62 touches of the ball throughout the 90 minutes – second only to Luka Milivojevic for the visitors – and registered a pass completion rate of 88%.
Amazingly, he did not make a single tackle across the 90 minutes, instead choosing to sit deep on the edge of his box and mop up any dangerous Watford attacks.
In total, he won six aerial duels, the joint-highest of any Palace player, and also made five clearances, second only to Martin Kelly in his side’s backline.
Cahill was also never dribbled past as he resolutely held the line for Roy Hodgson’s men.
Did he really play for us?! No Palace fan has managed to name all of these obscure Eagles signings….
Cahill has repeatedly done this for Palace.
Signed on a free transfer in the summer after his release from Chelsea, he has belied his 33 years to turn in routinely excellent displays.
His pass completion rate has only once slipped below 80% in the top-flight – 73.3% against Manchester United at Old Trafford – while he regularly clears the ball on numerous occasions. His peak this season came against Aston Villa, with eight, while he has made just five tackles throughout the campaign.
That speaks to a desire to allow other Palace defenders to step up and engage the attackers, purely so he can organise and hack the ball away when needed.
The ex-England international is a veteran of the Premier League – winning the title on two occasions – and he is enjoying something of an Indian summer in south London.
Meanwhile, Palace fans have been reacting to a link with a player at the other end of the pitch.