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May 22 2018 4.50pm

Player ratings: Palace v Burnley

January 17 2018

Bakary Sako

Bakary Sako

Crystal Palace made it back-to-back wins in the league with a convincing triumph at home to high-flyers Burnley. Mike Scott gives his player scores...

Being dumped out of the FA cup by Brighton seemed a distant memory by the end of this one. Burnley boss Sean Dyche suggested afterwards that he thought his side deserved a point, although few of the 24,000 people in the stadium would agree with him.

Palace put in a great team display and were unlucky not to be two or three up at half-time, although they had to overcome some late nerves to take all three points.

Wayne Hennessey - 8

The assumption has to be that Dean Kiely has made an immediate impact as goalkeeping coach, because Hennessey looked to command his box much more assuredly than he has in a Palace shirt before. His catching was excellent and even when he missed one, he made sure he got a foul in the process. He earned Palace all three points with an excellent one-on-one stop from Ashley Barnes, coming out and making himself big. For the first time this season, the Holmesdale chanted his name. That in itself shows how much he has improved.

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Timothy Fosu-Mensah - 7

A solid defensive display from the Dutchman showed, again, how much he is coming on under Hodgson. But the real plus is his improvement going forward, providing an overlap option. His crosses were menacing and Sako was unlucky not to convert one of them before half-time.

James Tomkins - 7

With Tomkins back in the side, Palace rarely looked troubled and they kept Sam Vokes and Barnes quiet. Only on one occasion did Barnes make it through between Tomkins and Kelly, with Hennessey to make a fine save. Vokes was limited to a header in the first half that perhaps he had a little too much space for, but really, nothing more could be asked of a central defensive partnership that is only together due to injuries to Sakho and Dann.

Martin Kelly - 7

It’s pointless singling out any defensive player for extra praise or comment, because they all put in a shift, all played well and all (collectively) stopped Burnley creating much, especially in the first half. There is no longer any doubt that Kelly is as reliable an option as any of the other central options.

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Patrick van Aanholt - 7

The surprise package for a lot of people recently is Van Aanholt, who has slotted into Jeffrey Schlupp’s role perfectly and looks more like the player he did under Big Sam. He, like Fosu-Mensah, provided an option on the overlap. But unlike certain times recently, his positioning was excellent and he covered his ground well. The only issues came right at the end, when he looked a little worried and nearly allowed Burnley in after dispossessing.

Luka Milivojevic - 8

A deserved start as captain for the Serbian. He played like a captain should too, dictating play in midfield and playing some ambitious balls that demonstrate how much his passing accuracy has come on as the season has progressed. His dead balls showed that Palace are fine if Cabaye can’t start; he was unlucky not to get an assist from a corner that Benteke put over.

Jairo Riedewald - 7

Riedewald’s performance can be described as quietly effective. At times, he looked to be playing under the radar, although Palace flooded the midfield and rarely in the first half looked in trouble. The Dutchman sat deep, playing the Cabaye role well and providing decent cover for the central defenders. He is beginning to look like a real bargain at £8m and one of a very few fine legacies of De Boer’s tenure.

James McArthur - 7

A slightly unfamiliar, wider role at the start for McArthur worked well, with Van Aanholt playing on the overlap and the two of them making up for the enormous Townsend-shaped hole. He played a large role in snuffing Burnley out in midfield. Was desperately unlucky not to double Palace’s lead soon after Sako scored, with Zaha laying the ball across the face of the goal and the Scotsman finding himself inches away from meeting it and guiding it into an empty net.

Wilfried Zaha - 7

Zaha, by his own standards, had some quiet periods through the game but his role was key because Burnley clearly had a game plan to double up (and, at times, triple up) on Zaha, which allowed more space and time for Sako and Benteke. Even though he was shadowed throughout, he still created plenty, with his dribbling causing the usual problems. He created one of the best chances of the game soon after Sako’s goal, unluckily not doubling the lead.

Bakary Sako - 9

Aside from creating the game’s winner from virtually nothing, Sako simply provided Burnley with so much of a headache that they just did not know how to handle him. He had no right to score as he did, but he also could have had a penalty and was unlucky not to convert a beautiful volley. The faux no.10 role clearly suited him; the extra space the heavy marking of Zaha gave him provided him with the means to really show how good he can be. He bowed to the Arthur and the Holmesdale and the final whistle to show his appreciation for the chants he got throughout.

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Christian Benteke - 7

Benteke looked to enjoy the support from Sako and Zaha being back on the wing and he provided a similar performance to the one against Leicester that saw him break his scoring duck. He held the ball up excellently and did his usual shift with balls in the air. The problem was his finishing; he should have scored at least two, including a one on one towards the end of the game that he managed to strike wide after holding onto the ball a bit too long. Having said all that, if Sako continues to score and Benteke is part of a winning side, he is still doing his bit.

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