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November 22 2017 2.55pm

Player ratings: Palace v Chelsea

October 15 2017

Julian Speroni

Julian Speroni

There was a famous win for Crystal Palace against reigning Premier League champions Chelsea. Mike Scott looks at some excellent player displays...

Sometimes, the only thing you can be sure of with Palace is that you canít be sure of anything. On paper, a home game against Chelsea seemed like it would result in Palace claiming the record for the most consecutive league defeats ever at the start of a Premier League season. But the Selhurst faithful were treated to one of the finest performances in recent memoryÖ

Julian Speroni - 9

Some of the personal abuse levelled at Wayne Hennessey by Palace and Wales fans on social media recently has been truly sickening. But thereís no getting away from the fact he has had a torrid time, so itís no great surprise that the return of Speroni was met with cheers all around the ground. And the Argentinian looked very sharp, pulling off some excellent saves and commanding his box with much more assurance than Hennessey. An excellent stop towards the end from a Marcos Alonso header certainly helped the home side take all three points. Great to see him back.

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Joel Ward - 7

A few eyebrows were raised when the team was named at 2pm and Ward found his way into the starting XI ahead of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, but he repaid the bossís faith in him with his best performance of the season. He looked much more like the Ward of old, keeping a tight line with Scott Dann and Mamadou Sakho and tracking his man well. He did have a tough time in the first half as the away side seemed to target him as a weakness and he was skinned a couple of times, but Chelsea failed to exploit.

Mamadou Sakho - 8

Any lingering worries of Sakho not hitting the heights of last season were put to bed. He led the line with trademark assurance, slowing play down when Palace needed a breather and calmly playing the ball out to start attacks. His part in Zahaís goal cannot be underestimated, it was brilliant skill and strength. A very questionable back heel in his own six-yard box with minutes to go tarnished an otherwise faultless display.

Scott Dann - 8

Palace missed Dann against United before the international break and his performance against Chelsea underlined how he has reinvented himself since playing under Frank de Boer. His partnership with Sakho has tightened up the middle of defence and rarely did Chelsea find themselves in space for crosses or set pieces. Had a tough time making up for the gaps occasionally left behind a vacant Patrick van Aanholt, but undoubtedly his best game of the season.

Patrick van Aanholt - 7

Arguably one of only two Palace players who werenít at their absolute best, Van Aanholtís flank was exploited in the second half as he struggled to hold the line being kept by the other three at the back. It was the Dutchman who lost Tiemoue Bakayoko for the Chelsea equaliser. Missed an absolute sitter to kill the game off, but did play an important role in Palaceís menacing quick breaks throughout the match.

Luka Milivojevic - 8

Up until now, there have only been glimpses of Hodgson getting the most out of the Serbian, who seems to have finally recovered from the mental battering he got from De Boer. Against Chelsea he was every bit the tenacious fighter he was last season, covering more ground than any other play on the pitch (over 12km apparently) and was the outlet for balls going forward on countless occasions. When he is there to provide extra cover in defensive midfield, Palace simply look a better side.

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Yohan Cabaye - 8

The fact that almost everything went through Cabaye two weeks ago was one of the few positives from the trip to Old Trafford and his influence was just as obvious this time around. He seemed to flourish with Hodgsonís 4-4-2 formation, finding himself in positions he simply has not been in for games this season. It was his opportunism in the box that saw Palaceís first league goal of the season; he must have set Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha off on runs a dozen times. The pace of things did catch up with him and he was substituted for Fosu-Mensah (6) on 85 minutes, who helped see things over the line.

Jeffrey Schlupp - 7

A slightly puzzling game for Schlupp underlined the fact that two bosses this season havenít quite worked out where to play him, but he was much more dominant than his recent, anonymous games. Covering ground down Palaceís left, he helped double up when Van Aanholt needed it, even if forward play often seemed to bypass him. Doubtless he contributed a lot in the efforts to keep Chelsea quiet, particularly in the first half. Was swapped for Jason Puncheon (6) with 15 minutes of normal time to go, who had little chance to make his mark on the game.

James McArthur - 8

In games like this, James McArthur will never make the headlines or discussions on Match of the Day, but Palace rely on his tireless work ethic so much. He put in a shift alongside Milivojevic to keep the Chelsea forward players quiet, while ensuring that the champions didnít dominate possession in midfield, despite pre-game worries over Hodgsonís formation change from some quarters. Recent matches have seen slow movement from Palace lead McArthur to try and go on solo runs that he simply had no support for, but with Townsend and Zaha ahead of him in free roles, he could concentrate on doing the ugly things behind them and it works well. Jairo Riedewald (6) came on with a few minutes to go to replace him, who seems unlucky at the moment not to feature more.

Andros Townsend - 9

Townsend has worked tirelessly all season in a series of lost causes, so it was excellent to see him finally get some rewards for his sharpness. A new role for him in a pairing of faux-strikers up front seemed to utterly confuse Chelsea, who had no idea what to do with him, particularly when he cut in from the left. He created space that Zaha exploited, was unlucky to miss a long-range effort that only missed because of some late curl and was virtually faultless throughout. The icing on the cake was setting up the sideís first goal of the season, even if it was marked down as an own goal.

Wilfried Zaha - 10

Selhurst Parkís anticipation over the return of Zaha after over two months out was met with an absolutely vintage performance from the Ivory Coast international. After the game, he was interviewed and mentioned that he and Townsend are not strikers, so he was perhaps as surprised by what they were producing as the Chelsea defence. Whether or not he is a forward, his strike that proved to be the winner was absolutely world class. And that was after he lost Davide Zappacosta and Cesar Azpilicueta with a sublime touch that only Zaha could have produced. He passed players at will and was provider as much as a target man. A worthy man of the match.

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