Hugo Lloris: 8.5/10
Many peoples’ man of the match, the French Captain was rarely tested but stayed alert after vast periods of inactivity when he made a double save in the 84th minute at his near post and also when Premier League veteran Matt Phillips was put through he utilised his sweeper role to slide tackle him and force a dangerous situation to peter out.
Kyle Walker: 8.5/10
A stand out performer, our Sheffield-born number two was excellent yesterday and did much to dispel fears of our full-backs being too weak after a mistake-ridden 2012/13. He looked confident on the ball touching it 114 times and seemed to have grown as a player over the summer, he showed less naivety in defence and an eye for a killer pass. This was shown on numerous occasions when he put Lennon through to the bye-line and for example put Soldado through whose ingenious reverse ball to Sigurdsson should have led to our second goal. He seemed to know the right option to take when pressed, he did not lose possession cheaply as he had done last season and did not have to rely on just his pace to defend as his positioning was a lot more mature. He also made double the amount of successful dribbles than any other player with a total of 5.
Michael Dawson: 7/10
Our lion-hearted centre-half wasn’t tested at all this game however he was very successful in his aerial duals and made no major errors. His only fault could be from a couple of misguided hoofs that headed out for throws rather than to the winger’s feet.
Jan Vertonghen: 7/10
The Belgian stalwart did nothing particularly wrong and like Dawson he was faced with little in the way of a challenge. However this game was more about match fitness for Super Jan anyway and it is a blessing to have him back in the side. Both he and Daws made 8 successful clearances which showed Palace’s lack of penetration in our half.
Danny Rose: 6.5/10
To be honest it wouldn’t have taken much for Sunderland’s player of the year to have improved on his poor preseason performance against Espanyol as he lost the ball in promising positions, had poor decision making and added lots of amateur theatrics. However, his performance then was not an accurate precursor for the match at Selhurst Park as Danny worked hard and got into space. The England U21 also won the most free kicks (3) while linking up well with Nacer Chadli as they made good progress down that left touchline. The negative side to his game was that he was really poor in the air and also had one or two opportunities to shoot or pass but took one too many players on and lost the ball. It was an average game from Rose and while he has great potential I think we may need another experienced left back for him to learn from.
Moussa Dembele: 8/10
The irrepressible Belgian was as smooth as ever and kept our passing ticking over while rarely losing the ball. He played a more holding, combative role today with Sandro still recovering which limited his attacking input however, he still looked sharp and launched a rocket in the 13th minute which skimmed both the keeper’s hand and the bar. He came off quite early to give Capoue his debut but that will probably be more about protection and fitness as we have only just started this season.
The Brazilian had his first full 90 minutes in the Premier league and didn’t look at all out of place. The box to box midfielder played a more defensive role in the game as AVB used a 4-2-3-1 formation due to the fact he did not start Capoue or Sandro. He was very solid on the ball with a good touch and rarely lost the ball, having a 91% pass completion rate. When The Beast returns or Capoue starts in a 4-3-3 formation hopefully Paulinho will have more freedom to roam and utilise the trademark bursts into the box that have been so effective for him in the Brazilian league. Both central midfielders have played as playmakers and No.10’s in the past so the performances in the future will have more verve and creativity about them. There is also an impressive tenacity and power about the 25 year old alongside his flair and his versatility could show what an astute signing he was.
Aaron Lennon: 7/10
The fleet-footed winger had a mixed game against the Eagles and would have been in contention for MOTM if not for some simple errors. The Leeds academy graduate made numerous great runs, won a penalty and partook in some rare yet brilliant tracking back. However on the other hand, his final balls left something to be desired as he squandered a couple of Walker’s through balls by taking too much time or hitting the cross too tamely. He also made a grievous blunder in the first half when we could have made it 1-0 when unchallenged he could cross to Sigurdsson free on the edge of the area or Chadli who was two yards ahead of his marker on the penalty spot however he chose to pass to our deadly Spanish soldier who by a long way is the best finisher of the ball but in this case when he was running past the near post with the defender a yard behind and goalkeeper a yard behind on the aforementioned upright it really wasn’t the best option.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: 7/10
The Icelandic CAM had a few moments of magic with a blistering effort from the edge of box as he adjusted with quick feet. He linked up well a couple of times with the Central midfielders and wide men with some tidy one two’s and tasty control. However, Siggy failed to make a sustained impact upon the game and while he worked hard and attempted the most amounts of crosses in the game (8), he fluffed an easy chance narrowly and disappeared for vast stretches of time. Gylfi is a great player but will probably be used as more of an impact sub this season.
Nacer Chadli: 7/10
After impressing in the preseason friendly the lanky Belgian had a tougher test against a physically brutal Crystal Palace. He took a while to settle and the first quarter was difficult for the young winger however, once he began to settle and build some good attacks with Rose and used his skills to his advantage. Nacer also missed a free header on the eve of half time which should’ve gone in but he didn’t get his head down and he improved in the second half. It is worth mentioning that most attacks came from the right flank and central areas so he saw less of the ball than his compatriots. He was working very hard to impress and that could be a reason that instead of driving to the touchline he cut inside and took a shot a couple of times which was reminiscent of a certain injured Welshman. More is to come from the 24 year old who possesses great skill and strength and is sure to succeed in the Premier league.
Roberto Soldado: 8.5/10
The Spanish soldier was fantastic yesterday; he showed some immense movement to continuously drop his inexperienced marker and was unlucky to not be on target from two free-kicks. Unfortunately, he did not receive as many through balls as he would have liked due to the more defensive roles of Paulinho and Dembele however, his effectiveness of the last man’s shoulder was shown from Walker’s through ball midway through the second period when he was put through. He also created as well as attacked as he dropped deep and worked in some build up play while creating more scoring opportunities than any other player at 4. One of these was an extremely unselfish pass to Sigurdsson when he could have shot himself which put the Iceman in acres of space one on one and his finish just brushed the post. The deadly goal hunter also coolly put away the winning goal in style from the spot. The 28 year old had a sterling performance until JD replaced him in the 82 minute.
Ettiene Capoue: 8/10
He came on for a 33 minute cameo and really impressed with excellent physical ability and reading of the game. The Frenchman joins countrymen Kaboul and Lloris at the club and had an impressive debut. He made 6 interceptions in the game as well which was more than the entire squad of West Brom, West Ham and Sunderland managed in 90 minutes.
Jermain Defoe: 7.5/10
JD had an 8 minute appearance and very nearly re-affirmed his label as super sub, after he went past the entire Palace defence to be one on one before failing to get a clean connection on the shot and just dragging it wide. He also showed good strength after a brilliant Paulinho through ball to counter attack, he ran to the edge of the box before holding the ball up and waiting for his team-mates to catch up. He could be an integral part of the squad as a substitute and Europa league player.
Younes Kaboul: 7/10
Younes did well not to crack under a heavy barrage of desperate, attacking fervor from Ian Holloway’s side late on in the game and his performance was again was more about fitness. His return is really good sign for the coming weeks as we missed the player last year and he adds a dynamic, fast and strong edge to the heart of defence.
Overall the team had a brilliant showing and the score-line didn’t accurately reflect the gulf in class between the two industrious sides. The side is not quite the finished article and that is by no means our strongest line-up as we miss Sandro, new signings and possibly Bale as our two starting midfielders will most likely have more attacking roles in the future with Sandro or Capoue behind them. The signs are good……COYS
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