Crystal Palace – Match Report vs. West Ham United (28/08/2021)

Crystal Palace visited West Ham United on the third matchday of the Premier League. ‘The Eagles’ went to the pitch with a 4-3-3 formation, in a possession-based style, putting a solid defensive performance to the table locking down the central mid, with very small spaces between the lines, but with some problems to defend the overloads from West Ham full-backs.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Marc Guehi

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English & Ivory Coast
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 13/06/2000
  • Current club: Crystal Palace
  • Career: Chelsea, Swansea (loan), Crystal Palace
  • Position: Central Defender
  • Preferred foot: Right

Marc Guehi played an excellent game at the back. He was always well positioned in the left centre-back role in a back-4. Guehi formed a great duo with Joachim Andersen at the back. Sometimes they sat very deep with the ball trying to attract the two strikers to step up and stretch the defence of West Ham United. Guehi loves to carry the ball up forward. He acts perfectly under pressure, with a strong composure and smart decisions.

Guehi’s one of the best passers in the Palace team and that says a lot. He’s always trying to make his team progress by connecting with teammates who are in the final third of the pitch or guiding the adversary pressure to the wings, to open space through the centre for his defensive midfielder (Kouyaté). He uses the long ball more often than Andersen, and that’s for two reasons:

  1. Guehi is very good at playing the long ball and it’s expected from him to play long passes.
  2. Guehi always wants to progress the ball forward and has the vision and technique to play long passes.

The English defender is outstanding defensively. He is great in the air and a monster on the ground. That’s one of his best abilities, the way he steals the ball from his opponents on the ground, either with a slide tackle or a strong tackle. He uses his strength with intelligence. The 21-year-old doesn’t make impulsive actions and he’s very disciplined. Guehi possesses great timing to intercept the ball and he knows when he has to step out of his line or stay.

Guehi seems to have a great mentality, as he is always looking to react and win the ball back to create some good football for his team. When he makes a mistake, he tries again and does it 100% better. A real elite mentality that could help him a lot in the future.

Rating – A1

The Cobham product has been one of the best defenders of the league. He has the potential to become a world-class centre-back in the Premier League, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves Palace in one or two seasons to a Big-Six team. 

Conor Gallagher

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 06/02/2000
  • Current club: Crystal Palace
  • Career: Chelsea, Swansea (loan), Crystal Palace (loan)
  • Position: Central Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

Conor Gallagher is an excellent midfielder who can cruise the pitch with the ball on his feet. Gallagher possesses a great mixture of being technically gifted and physically strong. He can also pass the ball very well and in different ways: long balls, short passes, through balls or even crosses in set-pieces. The 21-year-old can shoot from outside the box and he has brilliant finishing too. He prefers to shoot with power rather than a fine and delicate curved strike.

He has to be more disciplined because he’s way too aggressive in some ground duels. His off-the-ball movements are one of the best the Premier League have seen in the last couple of years. He’s undetectable in every zone of the pitch. Gallagher doesn’t have elastic hips which the traditional ‘10’s or ‘8’s have, but Gallagher is one of the most intelligent players in the league. His footwork is phenomenal. The former Swansea loanee is an associative player, he is very important in the buildup phase for Palace. Gallagher exploits his technical ability very well, he doesn’t use it to showboat but to play smart one-twos with his teammates.

Gallagher is also superb in the defensive role. When Crystal Palace is reactive and they organize in a 4-5-1, he understands tactically what he has to do, and where. He shows great positioning and tackling. But, when Crystal Palace also want to pressure very high in some moments of the game, the #23 is pivotal to lead the line. He’s a very complete player in all phases of the game.

Gallagher’s actions don’t always come off, but it was because of the great defensive display on a mid-block by West Ham, covering spaces in the middle to nullify their intentions, that even Kouyaté or McCarthur had difficulties. However, Palace found the way with Mitchell overlapping on the wing, who always settles higher than Joel Ward on the right. Gallagher’s off the ball movements were fantastic, as usual, especially when he’s close to the 18-yard box, where he moves very smart into space every time.

Rating – A1

Gallagher showed great determination throughout the match and kept going. In the end, this and his technical ability led to two goals for the English youngster.

Joachim Andersen

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Danish
  • Age: 25
  • Date of birth: 31/05/1996
  • Current club: Crystal Palace
  • Career: Twente, Sampdoria, Olympique Lyonnais, Fulham (loan), Crystal Palace
  • Position: Central Defender
  • Preferred foot: Right

Joachim Andersen lived a tough battle with Michail Antonio, even though he competed and contained him for several moments, the Jamaican scored a brace, and it was because of two mistakes from the former Fulham player.

The Danish defender had some problems with the ball to connect with his teammates in a high zone of the pitch, the long balls are not a strong part of his game and he has to understand that. Otherwise, he’s very good at short passing. He finds the fullbacks and midfielders correctly and even under pressure. He’s the second man on that responsibility ranking to take the ball out from the defence, the first is Guehi. Andersen does not carry the ball too much forward.

Tactically and off the ball, Andersen is good. Not elite, but good. Sometimes Andersen steps out of the defensive line too early, which opens up space for the opposition’s attack to run into. Bowen and Antonio exploited this weakness very well. However, he’s excellent when it comes to tackles and blocks. Andersen is always good positioned on the penalty area to parry some shots to a corner. He gives too much space to the opponents in transitions, if he uses his strength to make them more uncomfortable running with the ball, it would be a great improvement on his game, eliminating one of his biggest issues.

Rating – B1

Andersen isn’t a bad player, he’s a regular player who can develop his mistakes to be a better defender. When he faces tough competition, we can see his issues. The Danish has to adapt more to that Palace’s high-block, because he could be a liability for Crystal Palace when defending in a high defensive line, against quick counter-attacking teams.

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