Crystal Palace’s valiant effort against Liverpool on Monday night was at times both aided and undermined by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Any full-back would have a tough time dealing with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, but for much of the match at Selhurst Park, the 20-year-old coped well with the pace and flair of Jurgen Klopp’s attacking force.
The youngster’s two tackles and three clearances were vital in relieving some of the pressure on the Eagles’ back line, while his pace and impressive physique ensured he wouldn’t be brushed aside by the Reds’ formidable forwards
However, once Palace were in possession, Wan-Bissaka became something of a liability. A pass completion rate of 70% against such potent counter-attacking opposition is simply not good enough. Whilst others in Roy Hodgson’s line up registered even lower pass completion rates, it is still an area of Wan-Bissaka’s game in urgent need of improvement.
Wan-Bissaka’s one key pass in the match also suggests he isn’t being tremendously inventive or ambitious in his passing either – which otherwise may have earned him something of a reprieve for his poor pass completion rate. If the right-back isn’t going to be especially creative in possession then he must be more careful in his distribution.
Against Liverpool, Wan-Bissaka’s lack of experience also came to the fore as his misjudged challenge on Salah resulted in him being shown a red card by referee Michael Oliver.
Whilst the areas in which Wan-Bissaka must improve are clear, the positives to his game could also be seen at Selhurst park. The England under-20 international was fearless in taking on his more storied opponents as he completed an impressive four dribbles on Monday night.
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At this stage it is still obvious that Wan-Bissaka spent his entire youth career operating as a winger rather than a full-back. Going forward, the young talent adds an extra dimension to the Eagles’ attack with further speed on the break.
If Wan-Bissaka can raise his defensive game and distribution, then Palace will have quite the full-back on their hands.