Grading time! How Crystal Palace’s squad rated in the 2018-19 campaign

BY SAM SMITH

Crystal Palace finished 12th in the 2018-19 Premier League season – but how did each of their players rate? Here SAM SMITH dishes out the final grades for Roy Hodgson’s squad.

VICENTE GUAITA


Goalkeeper
Games: 24 Clean sheets: 9
The Spaniard had to bide his time for a Premier League start but more than took his chance in his league debut against Leicester in December. Guaita is reliable and possesses all the attributes required to be an excellent modern-day goalkeeper. His save to deny Everton’s Cenk Tosun in April was one of the best stops made in the top-flight this season.
GRADE: B+

WAYNE HENNESSEY


Goalkeeper
Games: 20 Clean sheets: 7
Began the season as Palace’s first choice goalkeeper and was very good, particularly in the opening day win at Fulham. A back injury in December meant he lost his place to summer signing Guaita.
GRADE: C+

JOEL WARD


Right-back
Games: 11 Goals: 1
The former Portsmouth defender managed 11 appearances despite the emergence of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and has barely put a foot wrong – barring missing a late sitter away to Watford. Contributed well at left-back and centre-back towards the end of the season.
GRADE: B

AARON WAN-BISSAKA


Goalkeeper
Games: 39           Goals: 0
The defender’s incredible rise from U23 winger to top Premier League performer continued and he is now regarded as one of the best full-backs in the division. Ends the season with the third most tackles in the division, as an England U21 international, and as Palace Players’ and Fans’ Player of the Year.
GRADE: A

JAMES TOMKINS


Centre-back
Games: 30 Goals: 1
Another good season for the former West Ham defender, despite it being cut short in early April due to injury. His partnership with Mamadou Sakho is statistically among the best outside the Premier League’s top six and he was influential as Palace kept 12 clean sheets in the league – the sixth-best record. Unfortunately had his two worst games against Brighton, which knocks down his grade.
GRADE: B

MAMADOU SAKHO


Centre-back
Games: 27 Goals: 0
Palace are always better at the back when the Frenchman plays and it is no surprise that the Eagles’ defensive record is improved on the season prior – when Sakho made just 19 appearances. Like Tomkins, had his season cut short due to injury.
GRADE: B+

SCOTT DANN


Centre-back
Games: 13 Goals: 1
Dann returned from his cruciate ligament injury at an important time and has played a key part in the final stretch of games due to the injuries suffered by the first-choice defensive pairing.
GRADE: C+

MARTIN KELLY


Centre-back
Games: 20 Goals: 0
Crucial when injuries have forced the Eagles into defensive changes. It is difficult to think of a better pool of centre-backs outside the top six.
GRADE: C+

PATRICK VAN AANHOLT


Left-back
Games: 39 Goals: 4
The Dutchman started the season well but tailed off in the latter stages. In and out of the team in the final few weeks, with Hodgson opting for the more defensively sound Joel Ward.
GRADE: B-

JEFFERY SCHLUPP


Midfielder
Games: 37 Goals: 5
The versatile Ghanaian was usually deployed as a more advanced member of Palace’s midfield three and had his best season since signing in January 2017. Remains under-rated by some supporters.
GRADE: B

LUKA MILIVOJEVIC


Midfielder
Games: 42 Goals: 12
The Serb had a disappointing World Cup campaign and this was perhaps the reason for a poor start to the season. However, Milivojevic was brilliant from the Christmas period onwards and his excellent penalty record means he does not get enough credit for the important defensive work he does in midfield.
GRADE: A-

JAMES McARTHUR


Midfielder
Games: 40 Goals: 3
Started every Premier League game until early February and provided a constant combative energy. The Scot also scored a few important goals.
GRADE: B-

MAX MEYER


Midfielder
Games: 36 Goals: 2
The German split opinion during his maiden campaign and was usually used out of position, left of a four-man midfield. When central, Meyer linked up well with the forwards. Needs to improve next season.
GRADE: C+

CHEIKHOU KOUYATE


Midfielder
Games: 24 Goals: 2
Summer signing had a solid season, initially partnering Milivojevic to good effect in the early stages of the campaign. Has found a regular starting berth difficult to find in recent months but remains a viable option to Hodgson.
GRADE: C+

JASON PUNCHEON


Midfielder
Games: 15 Goals: 0
Limited to substitute appearances and cup games before being loaned out to Huddersfield.
GRADE: D

ANDROS TOWNSEND


Midfielder
Games: 45 Goals: 9
This was another consistent season for Townsend, who topped the highest-scoring season of his career. His highlight will undoubtedly be the rip-roaring volley in the win against Man City. His nine goals and four assists were a much-improved contribution.
GRADE: B

WILFRIED ZAHA


Striker
Games: 36 Goals: 10
Generally used once again as a second striker, either behind Christian Benteke or Michy Batshuayi, Zaha had another excellent season. His form dipped slightly before Christmas but he ended it in double figures in terms of goals and a hat-trick of assists in the final day victory against Bournemouth. Might, unfortunately, be ready to move on to bigger and better things.
GRADE: A-

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE


Striker
Games: 19 Goals: 1
Injuries and a loss of form were once again the story for the big Belgian. It is difficult to see a long-term future at Selhurst Park for Benteke, who has managed just three non-penalty goals in two seasons.
GRADE: D+

MICHY BATSHUAYI


Striker
Games: 29 Goals: 9
The Belgian was an important loan signing from Chelsea and his six goals in 13 appearances edged the Eagles up the Premier League table. Palace would do well to make his temporary spell permanent, although it would take an extraordinary – potentially club-record – offer.
GRADE: B

ALEXANDER SORLOTH


Striker
Games: 16 Goals: 1
After a decent pre-season, it seemed Sorloth might finally get a good run in the Palace side. His move has ultimately failed to work, though, and despite managing a League Cup goal at Swansea he ended the season on loan at Genk. Will probably move in the summer to raise additional funds for upgrades.
GRADE: D-

JORDAN AYEW


Striker
Games: 25 Goals: 2
The loanee began poorly but impressed in games after Christmas, scoring important goals against Wolves in the league and Grimsby in the FA Cup. It would be worth making his deal permanent as he has been a useful option for Hodgson.
GRADE: C

CONNOR WICKHAM


Striker
Games: 8 Goals: 1
Returned to Premier League action in October after 23 months out injured. Scoring his first goal in more than two years when he netted in the FA Cup victory against Tottenham.
GRADE: D+

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