During his first spell in English football with Newcastle, Yohan Cabaye made his name as an attacking midfielder. Since his return from PSG with Crystal Palace, he has found top form in a more defensive role, and the part he has played has been crucial as Palace’s incredible season sees them sit seventh in the league.
When Cabaye first joined Newcastle in 2011, he was a key man for Alan Pardew’s side, often used in a more attacking role that saw him play behind the striker. His impressive performances also helped his team to fifth in the table, above eventual Champions League winners Chelsea.
During his two and half years at Newcastle, Cabaye became well known for his ability at shooting from long range and from free-kicks. This helped the Frenchman score 17 goals in the Premier League at St. James Park, as he also provided ten assists for his team mates.
This form caught the eye of French giants Paris Saint-Germain, who saw fit to spend £19 million to bring the midfielder to the Parc des Princes. This was also a move Cabaye was keen on, as it saw him move to a bigger club, while it also gave him the opportunity to earn a permanent place in the French national side, especially with the World Cup in Brazil approaching.
The time he spent back in his homeland was a disappointment for Cabaye. In the 18 months he spent with PSG, he made only 21 Ligue 1 starts, and just a further three in the Champions League. He scored only two goals in all competitions as the oil-rich side continued to spend big on midfield talent.
Though a move to Crystal Palace came as a big surprise, it was the logical move. He was signing for a team where he would get regular game time week-in-week-out, with a manager in Alan Pardew who trusted him and had worked closely with him at Newcastle.
With Palace’s array of attacking talent, Cabaye was always going to struggle to find a place in the side in his favoured position. Instead, Pardew deployed the Frenchman in a more defensive role beside James McArthur.
It is a position that Cabaye has thrived in. Only Leicester’s N’Golo Kante has made more interceptions than the 29-year-old, who despite his more defensive role has still contributed five goals for the London side this season.
What is clear is the influence that Cabaye has had on this Palace side. They currently sit seventh in table, and have put in some excellent performances. When Cabaye was suspended for the game against Chelsea, it was clear that they lacked some real quality in midfield, and it eventually led to their 3-0 defeat.
If Palace can keep Cabaye fit for the rest of the season, there is no reason why Palace can’t keep up their excellent form, and perhaps remain in the top seven.