This season was always going to be the biggest of Conor Gallagher’s career so far.
Following loans in the Championship at Charlton Athletic and Swansea, then a season that ended in relegation from the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion in May, there was still a lot Chelsea needed to learn about Gallagher before they could decide whether he could cut it at the highest level as a member of their first-team squad.
This season is a fork in the road for the 21-year-old’s career. Succeed at Crystal Palace and there’s every chance he can break into Thomas Tuchel’s team. Fail to perform and the dream of playing for his boyhood club is under serious threat.
Thankfully for him, this season is mapping out exactly how he would have wanted it to when he switched Cobham for Copers Cope over the summer.
Gallagher has been the Eagles best performer so far this season, contributing four goals and two assists in 10 Premier League matches and endearing himself to the Palace fans almost immediately by winning their Player of the Month award for both August and September.
He has thrived in Patrick Vieira’s system which brings out the best of his attributes – his energy and pressing, his late runs forward into the box and his ability to do his share of the dirty work and get stuck in with tackles.
The stats show just what an impact he has had. He currently has the fifth-most shot-creating actions in the Premier League this season, behind heavyweights Bruno Fernandes (54), Mohamed Salah (51), Trent Alexander-Arnold (48) and Jack Grealish (47) – all of whom play in title-contending teams.
He also has the second-most pressures of any player, with his 249 only bettered by Everton’s Allan with 297.
In the Crystal Palace team he leads the way for crosses per match (1.5), key passes per match (1.7), goal contributions (6) and shot per game (2.3), while only full-back Tyrick Mitchell gets in more tackles per 90 minutes than Gallagher (2.6).
What’s more, Gallagher’s form is gaining recognition from England manager Gareth Southgate, who already name-dropped him alongside Palace teammate Marc Guehi as someone who has caught his attention.
Entering a World Cup year that is high praise to be receiving, and if he continues his form for the Eagles into 2022, there’s no reason Gallagher couldn’t force his way into the Three Lions set-up and put a case for inclusion on the plane to Qatar if things continue as they are.
Palace supporters will want to squeeze every bit of enjoyment they can get out of the youngster before he returns to Chelsea at the end of the season, as currently there seems very little chance the Blues will be listening to any offers for the star.
Source by Football London