Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wilfried Zaha can be Crystal Palace’s saviour

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 4 Nov 2017

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Once I saw Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha as a player that produced frustratingly inconsistent performances. He had talent, but that talent was only on show in certain games.

However, the last few seasons, Zaha has found the sort of consistency that he so desperately needed to show. Last season he was one of the main reasons Palace stayed up.

Zaha has spent much of this season sidelined through injury. The winger returned to the Eagles team to score in a 2-1 win over Chelsea, then last time outscored an 87th-minute equaliser to rescue a 2-2 draw against West Ham. They are the sort of moments that could save Palace from relegation at the end of the season.

On Sunday, Zaha and co face a Tottenham side fresh from beating European champions Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Palace fans will be hoping that it is a case of after the lord mayor’s show for Spurs. However, the Eagles are massive underdogs at odds of 11/1 to win at Wembley.

Palace showing Spirit

Palace have shown signs of an improved spirit in recent weeks under the experienced Hodgson. All four of their Premier League points have arrived in their last three league games.

Unlike some teams near the bottom of the table (Everton, I am talking about you) they look like they could be moving in the right direction at least at the moment. The Eagles may not be soaring yet, but they are at least showing signs they might in the near future.

Roy Hodgson arrived as a safe pair of hands after the very short and not so sweet tenure of Frank de Boer. In reality, the former England boss may just be able to complete the great escape with Palace. For that to happen, he will need his star players playing at the peak of their powers.

Wilfried Zaha is a matchwinner

When a team is in a relegation battle like Palace are this season they need matchwinners, players that make the difference between picking up points and not.

In Zaha, the London club have just that. Last season in a relatively poor team, the Ivory Coast international scored seven goals and produced nine assists in the Premier League.

His tally of two goals in four Premier League appearances this season is a respectable one, especially as both goals played a part in Palace picking up points.

The absence through injury of both Zaha and star striker Christian Benteke has obviously harmed the Eagles chances of picking up more points. Both players have a big impact on the team when fully fit.

Now Zaha is back and on form, he will be a key factor if Palace are to perform a Lazarus like act this season.

Can play at a higher level

No disrespect to Crystal Palace, but Wilfried Zaha is probably ready to play at the higher level than Palace. Zaha has already been in this situation as a youngster when Manchester United signed the winger from the Eagles.

Zaha struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford and moved back to Selhurst Park. The move was obviously too big for Zaha at the time. He has matured majorly in recent years thanks to regular first-team football and the love of the Palace fans.

Ironically, Sunday’s opponents Tottenham showed an interest in signing Zaha last season. However, the Eagles reportedly refused to sell their star player. The decision was a good one and Zaha has continued to thrive at Palace.

The big question is would Wilfried Zaha decide to stay at Palace if another big offer came? The winger has found out to his cost that playing for a big club is not everything in life.

However, Zaha may feel he has to move on in the future if he is to fulfil his potential. He could play for a bigger team no doubt. However, for now, he is concentrating on trying to revive Crystal Palace.

Maybe at the end of the season, he will have a difficult decision to make, especially if he fails in his attempts at helping the Eagles to stay in the top-flight.

Can Wilfried Zaha help Crystal Palace survive this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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