Whilst there were plenty of impressive individual performances during Crystal Palace’s 3-2 win over Sunderland yesterday, two players in particular stood out from a statistical perspective.
Although the game had looked to be edging out of Palace’s collective reach when Jermain Defoe bagged his second goal of the day shortly after the second half began, a fightback, inspired by a powerful low drive from Welshman Joe Ledley proved to be the spark the Eagles needed to produce an astounding late comeback in the North East.
As you can see from the stat featured in the link above, Palace’s big money summer signing Christian Benteke played an absolutely pivotal role in the victory, providing a towering presence at the head of Alan Pardew’s attack throughout the day. There can surely be questions raised over whether Palace have ever had a striker of such commanding quality on their books given the start he has made in South London.
Just behind him, we were treated to a display of genuine class from attacking midfielder Jason Puncheon, who to his credit, continued the run of form which has seen him looked upon as Pardew’s most productive creative presence in the still young 2016/17 Premier League season.
Deployed in a wide position for large swathes of yesterday’s clash thanks to the absence of a certain Wilfried Zaha, the statistic attached at the bottom of this piece goes to show how big an influence the South London lad had on our play against David Moyes’ Black Cats. Whilst Palace fans everywhere have begun collectively scratching their heads over how best to accommodate Frenchman Yohan Cabaye, Puncheon is repositioning himself as an imperative personality in each and every one of Alan Pardew’s starting line-ups.
With five days to go until we travel to Goodison Park for a Friday Night Football meeting with Ronald Koeman’s impressive Everton, Palace’s players and fans can bask in the glow of three consecutive league victories, aided in no small part by the input of Benteke and Puncheon, don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?