Selhurst Park from the inside

Could Daniel Munoz solve Crystal Palace’s goal struggles?

Colombian export Daniel Munoz is Crystal Palace’s newest right-back – and data shows he’s breathing fresh attacking life into a role that has long been gasping for progression.

Nathaniel Clyne (32) and Joel Ward (34) have played right-back for the majority of the past 16 years, collectively playing more than 500 games for the Eagles since 2008.

But after his £8m arrival from Belgian Pro League side Genk in January, Munoz looks set to be the man to take the reins in the more progressive system of new manager Oliver Glasner.

Already boasting six goal contributions this season, the numbers show that he’s a far more attacking option down the right-flank compared to his Palace counterparts and possesses underlying stats that will prove enjoyable reading for any Eagles fan.

Belgian football expert Bob Faesen, who covers Genk for Het Laatste Nieuws, knows full well the sort of damage Munoz can do going forward.

“He’s kind of a like this savage mentality monster, a real South American spirit to him,” Faesen said.

“He’s not a guy to mess around with. He’s really full of energy and always on the move. He’s already missed here.

“The coach always said he’s full of self-confidence, so he’s very committed when he goes in for a challenge.

“And as an attacking right-back in Belgium, he was such a big threat and such an important weapon for the Genk team.”

When delving into the stats from this season, it’s clear to see just how impactful Munoz can in the attacking phases.

His surface level stats highlight this to an adequate extent. With five goals and one assist this season across 17 Pro League appearances with Genk, his attacking contributions are superior to those of Clyne and Ward, who collectively have only managed a solitary assist in a combined 29 outings.

On average per 90 minutes, Clyne and Ward’s expected goals (xG) and expected assisted goals (xAG) also only combine to 0.01 and 0.06 respectively – figures that pale in comparison to Munoz’s 0.33 combined xG and xAG per 90.

However, what really makes Munoz stand out are his underlying stats – as shown on FBref.

A progressive player, Munoz has on average made 7.94 progressive passes per 90, while producing 3.44 shot-creating actions per 90.

For progressive passes, this puts Munoz in the 98th percentile for players in his position, highlighting him as one of the statistically most forward-thinking right-backs in world football.

He therefore acts as a massive attacking improvement for the Palace defence – with current starter Ward averaging 3.24 progressive passes and 0.95 shot-creating actions per 90, while Clyne only averages 2.25 progressive passes and 0.5 shot-creating actions per 90.

Munoz is also constantly finding himself in the final third and the attacking penalty box, averaging 4.88 passes into the final third per 90, while being in the 99th percentile for touches in the opposition area.

This makes him out to be more of a winger turned wing-back than a defender – but his defensive capabilities are also there to be seen.

He averages 3.06 tackles per 90 compared to Clyne’s 1.88 tackles and Ward’s 2.23 tackles, while also making 1.63 interceptions per 90 – putting him in the 95th percentile for this stat.

Nevertheless, the attributes that have clearly attracted the investment from Palace relate to what the Colombian will add going forward – something that will come as no surprise given their performance this season.

Sitting 14th in the Premier League, Palace have particularly underperformed up front this season despite their wealth of attacking talent, having scored the fourth least goals of any team in the division with 32.

They’re also the only team yet to score a counter-attacking goal in the Premier League this season, according to

The addition of Munoz could seriously act to improve the Eagles’ attacking output, and it appears he’s set to get the minutes ahead of club stalwarts Clyne and Ward.

Crystal Palace fan Ollie Thomas has been vocal about the need for change at his club – particularly on his TikTok, @talkcrystalpalace, which has accrued more than 25,000 followers.

And with Munoz’s arrival posing a permanent departure from Palace’s regressive tactics of old, Thomas has every reason to be optimistic going into the second half of the season.

He said: “We’ve not had an attacking right-back for as long as I remember, and it’s been really refreshing to see.

“It’s been crying out for it since Aaron Wan-Bissaka left and before that too.

“The thought of having an attacking right-back alongside Michael Olise is really exciting. It should open up his game up a lot more. Just having an extra body on the overlap will help us dominate games more.

“He has already been a key part of the new system and I’m positive that he’ll start every game this year when he’s available.”

If first impressions are anything to go by, Palace could have a star on their hands.

A player who wears his heart on his sleeve, Munoz is quickly becoming a fan favourite among Palace faithful, winning over even the harshest of critics with his immense work rate and eagerness to advance.

He’s already stamped his mark on the side, putting in a superb display during Palace’s 3-0 win over Burnley at the tail-end of February, which propelled Glasner to an emphatic first win at Selhurst Park.

And with the Eagles entering a new era of progressive defending-from-the-front football under the Austrian tactician, Munoz looks set to become a vital cog in Palace’s rejuvenated machine.

Featured Image Credits: Rockybiggs, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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