England manager Sam Allardyce recently gave his first official press conference since his appointment, and now thoughts are turning to how the Three Lions will play during his tenure.
An advocate of natural wingers, Allardyce likes his wide men being capable to beat their opposite number and whip balls into the box, and Crystal Palace’s in-form winger Wilfried Zaha – a former transfer target for Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side – could be recalled as a result.
Zaha finally coming of age
Wilfried Zaha was named Crystal Palace Player of the Year following an outstanding season at Selhurst Park which is sure to get the attention of the England manager. The 23-year-old how shone under Alan Pardew’s attacking outlook at Palace and looks full of confidence again. He found game time hard to come by with former side Manchester United – earning the move in 2013 after being twice named Crystal Palace Young Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 – but has captured the form that led to the Red Devils’ interest in the past.
Zaha made just two Premier League appearances during his two years with Manchester United. He struggled to get any first-team football and was loaned out to Cardiff City and Crystal Palace before the London club made his loan move permanent. His rise to prominence has been very impressive as the England international has shown real resilience to not let his failed Manchester United move ruin a promising career, and has now come of age to potentially put himself in with a chance of a call-up next season.
Has all the attributes Allardyce likes in his wingers
England manager Sam Allardyce likes functional wingers who can beat their opposite number to get balls into the box for the forwards, while expecting industry to help out their own fullback when defending. Wilfried Zaha has ticked all the boxes for Crystal Palace in the last 12 months, boasting the most dribbles in the Premier League (244), averaging a successful take-on every 19 minutes.
As for distribution, Wilfried Zaha whipped in 118 crosses for Crystal Palace last season and had a 24% completion ratio. He created 41 chances in 2015/16, but his defensive work is also something Allardyce will like. The 23-year-old averaged more than two tackles or interceptions per game in the Premier League last season, and has become more physicality imposing too.
Zaha’s penchant to run at his man and get a ball into the box fits in well with Allardyce’s attacking style, and he could well make the squad ahead of September’s 2018 World Cup qualifier as a result. Allardyce tried to sign Zaha when he was in charge of West Ham in 2014 but missed out on the winger in the end. The Palace man is being tipped to make a return to international football to help England in the qualifiers if he can continue his fine form. England are 2/5 to win World Cup qualifying Group F, but will Zaha earn himself a call-up?