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Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann praises Kouyate performance in victory against Southampton

8:09 AM EDT 9/13/20
Cheikhou Kouyate - Crystal Palace 2019-20
The versatile Senegalese played his part in helping the Eagles secure all three points against the Saints

Scott Dann has described Cheikhou Kouyate as a ‘top player’ after Crystal Palace secured a 1-0 win over Southampton on the opening day of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

The Eagles finished the previous campaign on a sour note with a winless run in their final eight games, seven of them ending in defeat.

They were, however, keen to place it behind them and bagged all three points thanks to Wilfried Zaha’s 13th-minute goal which was his 60th goal involvement (37 goals, 27 assists) for the south London side in the top-flight.

The defensive organisation of Palace was also crucial to the victory with Kouyate partnering Dann in central defence. The 30-year-old Senegal international blocked one shot, made one tackle, two clearances and was not dribbled past for the entire 90 minutes he played.

He played 35 times in the top-flight last season, starting 29 of them. His total time spent on the pitch was 2,535 minutes. He averaged 1.2 interceptions per game, 1.6 clearances and 1.9 tackles and made no error that led to a goal. The average of Kouyate’s total duels won stood at 5.7 (55%), 2.6 (57%) of them being in the air and 3.1 (54%) on the ground.

He also averaged 18 accurate passes per game (74%), 9.5 (82%) of them in his own half and 8.5 (64%) in the opposition’s half.

"He [Kouyate] is a top player; he can play midfield and he showed what he is capable of in the back four. He’s been playing like that since the end of last season,” stand-in Palace player Dann told the club website.

"We finished last season on the wrong foot. We’ve been working hard pre-season to make sure that we started this season in a different manner. This performance, and the three points, are very important going forward now.

"It was a good defensive performance from the front all the way through. Everyone put a shift in. The goalkeeper made some saves at the important times."

Crystal Palace will be on the road next at Manchester United, a side they beat 2-1 at Old Trafford last season with Ghana international Jordan Ayew getting a goal. Before that is an EFL Cup third-round tie at Bournemouth on Tuesday.