A tricky trip to Norwich awaits Palace, but could the former Manchester United winger be the one to unlock the Canaries defence? Ryan Carraro reckons so.
As the start of the Premier League season finally arrivesr, speculation invariably turns from tenuous links to obscure foreign transfer targets, to which players could play the hero come match day.
With Palace’s season getting underway with a trip to Carrow Road, the eyes of both neutral and fan should be fixed on Wilfried Zaha, particularly with his counterpart on the opposite wing Yannick Bolasie a doubt, having only returned to training on Thursday following a hamstring issue. If Yannick isn’t involved from the start, then much of the responsibility to get fans off their seats will have to be shouldered by the Englishman- and fans have plenty of reason to be optimistic that he will deliver.
Wilf has been on of our strongest players in an uninterrupted pre-season- following on from a full season back in South London, he should be settled and carrying momentum, which is exactly where fans and teammates alike want him to be. Towards the back end of last season he contributed more of an end product to go with the flamboyant tricks, and with Alan Pardew being quoted as wanting the wingers to contribute more directly to goals, he should be expected to get the higher numbers of crucial goals and assists that palace fans know he is capable of.
A look at the opposition gives us another indication that Wilf can shine in Norfolk. Whilst the Canaries have done solid business despite a late promotion via the play- offs (a situation palace fans can of course emphasise with) their defence, whilst solid, looks distinctly championship standard. Those who can cast their minds back to the 2012/13 season will remember a spindly Zaha routinely embarrassing championship defences consisting primarily of rugged British big men.
Since then he has grown into a muscular man’s frame, giving defenders another physical headache- in the unlikely event they can catch him. Furthermore, the likely absence of opposite number, Sweden international Martin Olsson at left- back, leaves a lack of pace in defence- something Zaha and indeed most of our attacking talent will be eager to exploit.
Last but certainly not least, Alan Pardew’s confirmation that Yohan Cabaye will start will pique interest across the league, with eagles supporters in particular salivating at the prospect of the stylish Frenchman spraying exquisite balls over the top for our pacey technicians to chase. With this week’s addition of Bakary Sako boosting an already stacked squad, the 39- cap France international should be spoilt for choice as to who to pick out- as will the Norwich defence when it comes to marking…
Having perhaps unfairly been overlooked for the under 21 edition of the tournament, there is no reason why a confident, settled Wilfried Zaha shouldn’t have one eye on Euro 2016. He just needs to prove that he has the end product to go along with the precocious talent that has been evident since he burst onto the scene as a teenager.
At 22 years old, it is time for a settled Wilfried Zaha to show a footballing public that seem to have written him off that he is capable of more than just showboating, and can make a telling contribution at the highest level- and there is no better place to start than at Carrow Road.