Our partners at WhoScored.com take a closer look at Yohan Cabaye after the former Newcastle midfielder's goalscoring return to the Premier League with Crystal Palace.
There were a number of noteworthy performances in a mixed weekend for debutants in the opening fixtures of the new Premier League season.
The likes of Reece Oxford and Dimitri Payet certainly caught the eye as West Ham pulled off the shock of the round to win at Arsenal, with Petr Cech far less impressive in goal for the hosts. Indeed, on a weekend that only Chelsea didn't field a single debutant from the start, there were plenty of new faces to watch and many that impressed.
For Palace, however, it was a returning star to the Premier League that shone in a highly-entertaining encounter at newly-promoted Norwich, with Yohan Cabaye's first competitive appearance for the Eagles justifying the hype surrounding his transfer.
The Frenchman's arrival at Selhurst Park had been tipped as one of the signings of the summer and if Saturday's action was anything to go by, that prediction looks likely to be accurate, as WhoScored.com suggest.
Despite what was not a typically vintage Cabaye performance the 29-year old secured WhoScored's man of the match award at Carrow Road with a rating of 8.28, taking his place in the team of the week in the process.
Fielded in a deeper position than most expected, with Jordon Mutch deployed in an advanced role in midfield, the France international displayed his defensive abilities to great effect, producing four tackles and four interceptions.
It wasn't until Mile Jedinak replaced Mutch that Cabaye was given more freedom to get forward, which ultimately led to his debut goal late on following an intelligent run and neat pick out from James McArthur. Indeed, it's these sort of positions that the playmaker is expected to find for the club this season having thrived in an attacking midfield role prior to his departure from Newcastle under Alan Pardew.
Despite making an impressive transition to English football in 2011, Cabaye spoke openly about his battle with depression after moving to Tyneside having captained Lille to an unexpected Ligue 1 title. After a lengthy injury lay-off the following season and proper break in the summer of 2013, however, the Frenchman had settled in the North East and began the following campaign in fine form.
Pardew deployed Cabaye in an advanced position to try to get more goals from midfield and it paid off to great effect. Instructed to try his luck whenever the opportunity arose, Cabaye mustered 3.3 shots per game for a return of seven goals from 19 appearances, earning a rating of 7.48 from WhoScored.com - ranking 10th in the Premier League in 2013/14.
Just as he had become comfortable in his surroundings on and off the pitch however, the midfielder's form sparked interest from French champions PSG, with a return to his homeland proving too good to pass up. It would be a move that would backfire on Cabaye though, not only facing stiff competition for a starting place but asked to play a far more defensive role than he had been tasked with at Newcastle.
In 18 months in Paris Cabaye would start just 21 of 38 league appearances. He scored only once in Ligue 1 having seen his figures for shots and key passes per game drop to just 0.9 and 0.4 per game respectively in his final season under Laurent Blanc, leading to a meagre WhoScored.com rating of 6.66.
It was clear that Cabaye needed a fresh start. What was far less obvious, however, was why Palace went somewhat unopposed in the race for his signature. It's perhaps understandable that Europe's biggest hitters were perturbed by an underwhelming spell in the French capital but the loss of a number of strong clubs in England alone has been Palace's substantial gain.
Many feel that Arsenal are still short of options in midfield, but while Cabaye is perhaps not the type of player that they are lacking, a team like Spurs should surely have had an interest. Mauricio Pochettino lined up with young centre-back Eric Dier alongside 20-year old Nabil Bentaleb in midfield at Old Trafford, while Ryan Mason's return is unlikely to boost their aspirations of a top four finish.
Tottenham have signed a vast array of midfielders that for one reason or another haven't worked out at White Hart Lane but Cabaye's Premier League previous should have been evidence enough that he was capable of making the grade. The same could be said for a number of sides competing in Europe this season, so Palace's capture of the midfielder was arguably a coup perhaps not only unequalled in the Premier League, but across the continent too.
It’s great to see Cabaye back in England’s top flight and judging by his first performance for Palace, he certainly looks set to flourish once more.
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