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The stats behind Gallagher's flying start to Crystal Palace life
Posted on September 13, 2021
When Swansea City completed their trio of loan signings in January 2020, the arrivals of Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi from Chelsea were perhaps dwarfed by the capture of Rhian Brewster from Liverpool. The latter excelled in front of goal, netting 11 times in Swansea's failed playoff push, though it did little to overshadow the performances of the former duo.
Chelsea fans paid close attention to the young pair as they continued their development under the watchful eye of Steve Cooper. Gallagher in particular had put in a number of solid displays for Charlton in the first half of 2019/20 before Chelsea elected to cut the loan deal short and send him to Swansea with then-Chelsea teammate Guehi.
Guehi would go on to spend 18 months with Swansea before a permanent move to Crystal Palace was confirmed over the summer, and it is at Selhurst Park where he would be joined by Gallagher once more. However, the midfielder would arrive in south London via West Brom. Despite their relegation, Gallagher was a ray of light in a dreary campaign at the Hawthorns, so much so that Chelsea felt another loan stint at a Premier League side was necessary and it's with Palace that the 21-year-old has really come into his own.
After a huge shift in personnel at Selhurst Park this summer - the likes of Mamadou Sakho, Gary Cahill and Andros Townsend, high earners for the Eagles, followed Roy Hodgson out of the club - meant Palace were something of an unknown entity coming into 2021/22. Patrick Vieira took over the reins, and renowned for his possession based approach during his time in charge of Nice, it signalled a change in style for Palace.
Joachim Andersen, Will Hughes, Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise would join Gallagher and Guehi at Selhurst Park over the summer, the latter arriving from Chelsea permanently, a decision that may yet come to regret. The Blues aren't being quite so hasty with Gallagher and if his performances in the captital are anything to go by, it is easy to see why.
While a small sample size of just three league outings, only Adama Traore (8.14) has earned a better WhoScored rating than Gallagher (8.02) in England's top tier this term. Having netted his first league goals of the season in Palace's entertaining 2-2 draw with West Ham prior to the international break, Gallagher followed that up with his first assist in Saturday's 3-0 win over Tottenham, teeing up Edouard to score his second and Palace's third in their first victory under Vieira.
Both matches showcased Gallagher's quality in the final third, with his two goals this season coming from 10 shots, more than any other Palace player, and one assist from five key passes; only Wilfried Zaha (6) has created more chances for the Eagles. Yet it is not just Gallagher's hard work on the ball that has endeared him to Palace fans so quickly, but also his tenacity out of possession.
No player has made more tackles for Vieira's side than Gallagher (9) in the Premier League this season to reinforce a statistically calculated WhoScored style of play of 'likes to tackle'. There are minor concerns on his timing of the tackle - he has been dribbled past seven times and committed five fouls in his three league outings - but these are outweighed by the clear willingness to get stuck in for the good of the team.
Gallagher gives Palace additional bite in the middle of the park, and a link between the midfield and attack, which renders him an ideal fit in Vieira's favoured 4-3-3 setup. Alongside Cheikhou Kouyate and James McArthur, Palace are difficult to break down and it means only five teams are conceding fewer shots per game than the Eagles (10.8) in the Premier League this season.
Having excelled for Charlton and Swansea in the Championship, and shown glimpses of his talent with West Brom in the Premier League last season, Selhurst Park appears to be the perfect place for Gallagher to continue his development. As he told WhoScored.com last July: "If they (Chelsea) think another loan, then that's fine, I'll take that opportunity again." Palace are the immediate beneficiaries from his latest loan stint, and it's one that looks to have really announced Gallagher as a Premier League-ready player. The Eagles are hoping his flying start can continue and that, potentially, a permanent move is in the offing further down the line.