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Player ratings: Fulham v Palace

August 14 2018

Patrick van Aanholt

Patrick van Aanholt

Who were Roy Hodgson's heroes in the season's opening-fixture win against Fulham? Mike Scott gives his ratings.

Fulham last lost on the opening day of the season at home all the way back in 1989 and will have been feeling confident after a flurry of summer signings.

The Eagles had other ideas though and a goal in either half saw them take three points home with them...

Wayne Hennessey - 9

Hennessey had one of his finest games in a Palace shirt, pulling off a string of saves to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic in particular. In all, there were a good half a dozen saves, including a great one down to his left, that frustrated the home fans.

He made the Premier League team of the week, which shows that Vicente Guaita’s task of gaining a starting place may not be as simple as some predicated.

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka - 9

Another man to get in the Premier League team of the week was the Palace right back, who kept the dangerous Ryan Sessegnon at bay for the whole game. There was a great battle between the two of them, with fairly even pace on offer.

A couple of times threatening balls from Cyrus Christie came across the six-yard box in the first half and Wan-Bissaka was alert enough to read the danger and clear the ball behind before Sessengnon could get a boot in. He won’t have too many tougher tests this season. He won’t set up too many better goals, either.

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James Tomkins - 7

The partnership of Tomkins and Sakho remains unbeaten, which is remarkable, but it was some average finishing from Mitrovic that stopped Fulham going ahead in the game. He had the better of Tomkins for much of the first period and it was only his failure to get the ball past Hennessey that allowed Palace to go ahead. In the second half, Tomkins looked much more at ease though and he looked to be a real handful at the back post for corners.

Mamadou Sakho - 7

One of the main talking points of the game was Sakho’s challenge on Andre Schurrle which led to big shouts for a penalty. Most pundits seem to think it was a foul and it did definitely come at a key time, because Fulham were on top. The Frenchman does always have a rash challenge like that in him, but it’s why Palace have got him.

Aside from that, he looked to be vocal and marshalled the defence in front of Hennessey just as well as he was doing last season. Fulham got very little joy from set pieces, too.

Patrick van Aanholt - 8

Van Aanholt simply carried on his excellent form of late last season and showed, once again, then when the opposition are chasing the game he can punish you. He had a goal disallowed, had a hand in one and was the outlet behind ZAHA on countless occasions.

Early on, he had his hands full dealing with Cyrus Christie and the Republic of Ireland international did get in behind more often that was comfortable, but otherwise a near flawless performance.

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Luka Milivojevic - 6

In the periods that Fulham dominated possession, Jean Michael Seri totally overran the midfield and Milivojevic had a fairly anonymous game at times as a result. The home side had three players playing fairly compact in the middle, with the wing backs bombing on and it meant that Palace were reliant on the counter attack and bypassed Milivojevic at times.

His set pieces continue to impress and his corners, in particular, are improving all the time.

James McArthur - 6

Like Milivojevic, McArthur struggled at times to make his mark on the game, simply with how Fulham were playing, but it was enough for Palace that McArthur played in front of the back four and cut out balls from the home side, because of the speed and intensity of Eagles’ counter attacks.

There was uncharacteristically little of note from the Scotsman going forward, but there was also little need, with Fulham chasing the game for 50 minutes and leaving gaps that could be exploited for just two or three Palace forward players.

Jeffrey Schlupp - 8

Huge credit has to go to Schlupp for his goal; not only did he shock everyone with his effort and the power behind it (not least the keeper), but his awareness to make the run that allowed him to collect the pass underlined the fact that he did begin his career as a striker.

His link-ups with Van Aanholt and ZAHA caused immense problems for the home side.

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Andros Townsend - 6

Comparatively little of Palace’s threat came down the right flank, with most counter attacks coming through Schlupp and ZAHA, so Townsend had a quieter than usual game, although he still caused problems. Joe Bryan seemed to look like he had his hands full with the movements of Townsend and he did get behind to put in some decent crosses. A couple of shots from his still lacked that clinical finish though.


Chris Sutton was on his high horse yet again, talking about how ZAHA should have been sent off for his behaviour. It looked more like his caution was about the right punishment, although he still has a tendency to get involved in arguments he has no need to carry on.

Link up play with Van Aanholt and Schlupp was superb, as were moments with Benteke, although the two of them were often too far apart. His goal was excellently taken, making use of some awesome work from Wan-Bissaka.

Christian Benteke - 7

Benteke was denied an excellent opportunity to open the scoring when Fabricio Agosto Ramírez tipped his well aimed header onto the bar, which will frustrate the Belgian who will have been keen to carry on his form, following a goal against Toulouse.

There were some excellent moments on the ball, including the crossfield ball that started the move for the second goal. He seems to have grown in confidence, because he had a shot from outside of the box, which rarely happened last season. He’s not quite there though, one ball into his feet was wasted when he took too many touches in the box and was dispossessed.

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