Wayne Hennessey has been one of the most outstanding performers for Crystal Palace this season. His heroics have struck a chord with supporters and he’s undoubtedly proved his critics wrong between the sticks at Selhurst Park.
The Welsh international has displayed signs of improvement in the premature stages of the 2018/19 season and has made a string of notable saves to strengthen his reputation.
He’s come along way since the early stages of last season under Roy Hodgson and is beginning to flourish in his assured role as first-choice goalkeeper.
Replacing club legend Julian Speroni was never going to be an easy task, but it’s safe to say that Hennessey is forging a good reputation with supporters himself.
He will be crucial for a difficult season ahead, especially with Palace swimming just four points above the relegation zone, following a defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their previous fixture.
Unfortunately, Hennessey was judged a little unfairly when he had a bad run of games at the start of the 2017/18 season. Palace were also enduring their worst ever start to a season under Frank De Boer.
Hodgson was appointed soon after the Dutchman’s departure but Hennessey’s form was still underwhelming in the run-up to Christmas. This was during the period where Palace were looking at negotiations with Getafe goalkeeper Vincente Guaita.
The negotiations seemed to spur on the Welshman as he started improving week after week, securing his spot ahead of club legend Julian Speroni.
The goalkeeper became more confident, coming out for crosses more and commanding his area which is something that the Palace fans weren’t seeing at the beginning of that season.
His performances were one of the reasons that Palace secures an 11th place finish that season, despite being favourites to be relegated after their abysmal start.
At the end of that season, Palace confirmed that Vincente Guaita would join the club on a free on 1 July when his contract ended.
The arrival of goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely in January is amongst the main reasons why Hennessey is producing outstanding performances at the moment.
Kiely arrived when Hennessey was in bad form and it was vital to restore the confidence that the Welshman lost in the first half of last season.
Hodgson doesn’t change the defensive line on a frequent basis, which provides valuable continuity in the starting line-up. It also means that Hennessey has more understanding with his teammates.
The Welshman hasn’t always been popular at Selhurst Park but he has seen a big improvement of support from the Palace fans. His form deserves acknowledgement as his eye-catching performances have kept Palace in a lot of games in the last 12 months during Hodgson’s reign.
Hennessey is mirroring the form from the end of last season that kept Palace up and his consistency shouldn’t be underestimated. The Welsh giant is winning over the Palace fans and there’s not many people that can argue with that.
Has the introduction of Guaita improved Hennessey?
The signing of Guaita was an intelligent move by Roy Hodgson as it keeps Wayne Hennessey on his toes. The former Getafe goalkeeper will provide stern competition and this can only be a good thing.
Last season, the Welsh giant was dropped for Speroni and Hennessey was determined to come back and prove the fans wrong.
Guaita has impressed so far in his appearances in the Carabao Cup against Swansea City and West Brom. He kept a clean sheet in both and produced a magnificent save to deny James Morrison in their 3-0 win at The Hawthorns.
Hennessey knows that he has to be on the top of his game if he is to keep Guaita out of the first team. So far, he is proving all of the critics wrong as most Palace fans would’ve expected to see Guaita start for the Eagles this season.
Guaita was superb in La Liga last season and his man of the match performance against Barcelona would’ve had the Palace fans purring at the prospect of him joining the club.
However, Hennessey continues to shine for the Eagles despite their poor form at the moment.
After the international break, Palace will be looking to return to winning ways when they travel to Goodison Park. Hennessey will be looking to continue his impressive form that has kept him at the No. 1 spot since the first game of the season.
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