Crystal Palace have had a revival of sorts with three wins and three clean sheets from their last three games.
The revival didn’t happen straight away but new manager Sam Allardyce and new acquisition Mamadou Sakho have drastically improved the Crystal Palace defence which has led to three wins in a row.
Crystal Palace signed Sakho in a loan deal from Liverpool on deadline day in the January transfer window. He was an outcast at the Reds and had fallen out with Jurgen Klopp. Sakho has barely played this season, but since starting for the Eagles he has improved the Palace defence immensely.
Crystal Palace are now 16th with 28 points, one point above Swansea.
Rio Ferdinand spoke to BT Sport after Crystal Palace signed the Frenchman on transfer deadline day saying Klopp had let their best defender go.
"“I think he’s Liverpool’s best defender when he’s fit and available.“Last season he was very good and I think they’ve missed him this season.“He’ll be a great addition to Crystal Palace because he will add a bit of pace and aggressiveness to the back four.”"
Crystal Palace were deep in the relegation zone prior to their three wins and now have a good chance of staying up.
Sakho has been praised for his contributions to the team.
The 26-year-old had a torrid time at Anfield including serving a 30 day ban for failing a drug test in April, 2016 after he tested positive for Higenamine, which was claimed to have been used as a fat burner. Sakho missed out on the last eight games of the season and also missed out on selection for the French squad at the 2016 Euros.
Sakho was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing but the initial ban he’d served had already had an effect on Sakho.
"“Whatever I go on to do in my career, it cannot replace what I missed out on with Liverpool and France,”“I had wanted so much to wear France’s colours in a tournament taking place on home soil. Seeing my dreams snatched away from me three weeks from being realised … that was hard. But I knew I wasn’t a cheat.”"
Klopp was unimpressed with Sakho’s level of fitness after Sakho returned to training for Liverpool prior to this season.
Following this, Sakho reported to training late in the USA tour and had missed a training session with his fitness coach. Klopp sent him home and ever since has not featured for Liverpool.
But, now Sakho is finally finding playing time and has relished his chance to shine at Crystal Palace. Sakho, along with Allardyce’s miserly and shrewd defensive tactics have led to three clean sheets and three wins. Crystal Palace have a strong chance of surviving now after gaining nine points.
Teammate Wilfried Zaha said of his new comrade:
"“He’s a rock, so solid and at the same time, so composed,”“If you make the movement he’ll make an angle for you and find you with his pass. That’s massive for us. We’re way more solid now. We’ve gone back to basics and if you do those right, the rest will follow."
Sakho played for PSG and was made club captain at the young age of 17. He was the youngest ever player to captain a Ligue 1 side. Sakho made over 200 appearances for the club, winning all four domestic trophies.
In 2013 he signed for Liverpool for £18m.
Allardyce has sang praises of the French defender.
"“You’re slightly concerned when you take a player in the January window who’s been frozen out.“But then again, once you’ve got him fit… we knew that you can’t play that many games for Liverpool and be a bad player. Certainly the lift he’s given us defensively in the two games he’s played has been exceptionally good.”"
And now, after his three consecutive outstanding performances for Crystal Palace, Sakho is in contention for the Premier League Player of the month.
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Meanwhile, Allardyce has also been nominated for manager of the month,
Sakho has had a 100% tackle success rate, a total of 4 interceptions, and 24 clearances in 3 games.
Fans have reacted to his performances and have called for the club to sign him in a permanent deal.
Palace will hope to sign Sakho in a permanent deal this summer but it will be difficult. Liverpool may look to recuperate the money they spent on him or perhaps even make a profit.
So it remains to be seen whether Palace have the money to sign him.