Crystal Palace’s 2-0 victory over Fulham last weekend has seen most people discussing the instant impact made by Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi off the bench when creating the Eagles’ second goal but just beforehand, Palace centre-back Mamadou Sakho made an equally impressive double tackle to win the ball and set up an attack.
— Patrick 🏌️♂️⚽ (@PatrickEagles15) February 3, 2019
The Frenchman quickly became a cult hero at Selhurst Park thanks to his flamboyant approach to the game, often leading many to discount just how competent a defender he is when his mind is fully focused on the task at hand. The above tackle is the perfect example of Sakho at his best, mixing pace, anticipation, timing and a head-up style of play to provide the perfect piece of forward-thinking defensive work.
Many Palace fans will admit to regularly being left with their heart in their mouth as a direct result of Mama’s high-risk approach to his role at the core of our back four but in truth, it’s a strategy which works out far more often than not, with both he and James Tomkins having cemented their status as the club’s go-to defensive pairing under the guidance of Roy Hodgson.
Whilst Tomkins can be looked to as the more stoic of the duo, Sakho can always be relied upon to spark counter-attacks as and when the opportunity arises, with the pair offering a real balance at the base of the side. Whilst I can’t speak with any level of authority on the teams of the 60s, 70s or 80s, I don’t think many people would argue with the suggestion that the aforementioned two have meshed better than perhaps any central partnership in our 114-year history, given the variety of attributes they bring to the side.
We’ve now managed nine clean sheets so far this season; a number which highlights just how good Sakho and Tomkins have been. Moments like the one shown above are just the icing on the cake.