It wasn’t until a few hours before Crystal Palace’s game against Leicester City kicked off that Eagles’ fans first heard the rumours that Vicente Guaita was set to replace the injured Wayne Hennessey in between the sticks but on a bitterly cold and wet afternoon in SE25, the Spaniard enjoyed a debut to remember.
Aside from one moment of potential calamity when he dwelled too long on a ball played back to him, only to hear the referee blow his whistle to signal a foul by Foxes striker Jamie Vardy and spare his blushes, Vicente was encouragingly positive throughout, demonstrating confidence when coming for crosses into the box and producing a show-stopping save to push a low Vardy effort onto the post midway through the second period.
To Wayne Hennessey’s credit, his performances this term have won him plenty of plaudits but after waiting months to see the summer arrival make his Premier League bow, it’s fair to say that the Selhurst faithful were pleased with what they found. The position of a goalkeeper is strange one, in that their displays are judged on sporadic moments of action rather than an overall performance but with Palace hanging onto a single-goal advantage when the aforementioned shot was tipped onto the woodwork, it’s proven to be a happy and lasting memory in the minds of thousands.
The sight of the ball cannoning back into his grasp a split-second later hinted at a change of luck for Palace after a spell of games in which they’ve had little to none but the question now is whether Hodgson chooses to revert to type and put Hennessey back in or roll the dice and keep faith with Guaita for this weekend’s hugely daunting trip to The Etihad Stadium.
The man himself was clearly overjoyed to have come away from his debut with a clean sheet and three points, highlighting his preference for team-wide success over individual plaudits but after a prolonged wait to catch a glimpse of the former Valencia man in action, those of a red and blue persuasion were far from disappointed.