Ghana's No. 1

Andre Ayew emerges as the key performer for Crystal Palace

Published on: 26 February 2020
Andre Ayew emerges as the key performer for Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United, Premier League, Selhurst Park, 22 February 2020

Crystal Palace fans would be justified in arguing that their key player is Jordan Ayew, a £2million signing that some supporters didn’t want the club to sign in the summer.

That the Ghanaian attacker’s role at the Eagles has become so significant is down to hard work, determination and ceaseless energy.

Ayew went from being a bit-part player last season, often coming off the bench, to surely being one of the first names on Roy Hodgson’s team sheet. He did so in part because the club lacked fit striker options, but also because he took that opportunity and didn’t let it go.

Ayew’s contribution against Newcastle was typical of his performances this season. He frequently took possession in difficult areas and somehow managed to find a way out of them.

He drove the side forward with foraging runs into Newcastle’s defensive third, through numerous opponents attempting to make last-ditch tackles.

His work-rate also meant that he did defensive work to keep Newcastle United from having any glaringly obvious opportunities, supporting his team-mates to get the ball away from Vicente Guaita’s goal.

It was also Ayew’s attempt to latch on to a Christian Benteke header that resulted in the free-kick from which Patrick van Aanholt scored the winner.

What Ayew didn’t do, and what will frustrate him, is score himself.

On two occasions in the second half he found himself alone at the far post with just enough time to set himself and shoot. On both occasions his efforts were disappointingly tame. There is such a thing as having a little too much time to shoot, and on these occasions you could argue that was the case.

Instead of letting his striker’s instinct do the work, he had a little too much time to deliberate about what he was going to do.

Ayew also came incredibly close in the first half, with a run and shot that, had it just curled a little further inwards, would have hit the post and gone in.

While goals will be the headline-grabbers for Ayew, he made a telling contribution to a dominant performance.

Palace deserved to win the game and the scoreline was not a true reflection of the way the side played.

The Eagles ended a concerning slump of three successive defeats.

Newcastle had goalkeeper Martin Dubravka to thank for keeping them in the game.

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