Soft-centred Swansea City and Hull City may wish they had signed Luka Milivojevic

Swansea City manager Paul Clement reacts

The Crystal Palace enforcer may have saved their season; Hull City and Swansea City, meanwhile, are still fighting against the drop.

Watford's M'Baye Niang in action with Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic

Crystal Palace may have been indebted to a clumsy Troy Deeney own goal as a 1-0 win against Watford pulled them four points clear of the bottom three this weekend, but it was a thunderous challenge around 30 seconds earlier that laid the groundwork for a vital victory.

Luka Milivojevic was very fortunate not to give away a foul in a threatening position, or indeed receive a booking, when clattering into Mbaye Niang on the edge of his own penalty area. Moments later, Wilfried Zaha raced down the other end and won the free-kick which led to the only goal of the game.

But that is Milivojevic in a nutshell. Combative, fiery and, now, completely indispensable. An understated arrival from Olympiakos in January despite his £13million fee, as reported by the Mirror, Palace have won their last three games with the 25-year-old marshalling the midfield and keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.

Milivojevic also averages 1.5 tackles and 2.8 interceptions per game, giving Yohan Cabaye the freedom to dictate play from deep.

If only Swansea and Hull could call on a midfielder with such dynamism and aggression. Despite recent upturns, the duo both suffered potentially damaging defeats on Saturday.

Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic in action with Middlesbrough's Adam Forshaw

The Swans went down 2-0 at Bournemouth in their poorest performance since Paul Clement took charge while Hull were battered 4-0 by a Romelu Lukaku-inspired Everton. Ironically, Tom Huddlestone received a straight red for a challenge not dissimilar to Milivojevic’s with the Tigers just one goal down.

The duo, 17th and 18th respectively, have the two worst defensive records in the division and lack any sort of designated defensive midfielder to protect the back four and break up opposition attacks. Bournemouth and Everton once again exposed their soft underbelly, cutting through their centre with ease.

Swansea may have enough quality in the team to ensure their safety but Hull, now three points adrift, could be rueing their failure to get to Milivojevic first; especially with the Daily Mail claiming they were in pole position for his signature in January.

Swansea City manager Paul Clement reacts

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