Sam Allardyce has backed Christian Benteke to rediscover his shooting boots and fire Palace to safety after the Belgian striker netted twice for his country in midweek.
The Eagles’ top scorer has 11 to his name this term, nine of which have come in the Premier League, but hasn’t celebrated one for two months now since he netted in the closing stages of the win against Bournemouth.
However after notching a brace for Belgium in Russia on Monday night, Allardyce has tipped his hitman to return to the goal trail once again, despite the club record signing suggesting that he finds it easier to score for his country who boast a more-attacking mindset, especially with players such as Eden Hazard who he could come up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of that game, Allardyce said: “He’s had to make a sacrifice in that the goals have not been quite as fluent for him as they were before I arrived. Him using the word ‘sacrifice’ is nice to hear because it shows that he’s not selfish.
“He’s disappointed that he’s not scoring goals at the moment but I wouldn’t say it’s because of my over-defensive tactics but it’s more that we have to get better in the final third creating chances, not just for him but all the team. We get there but I don’t think we’re as creative or as clinical as we should be.
“From Christian’s point, it’s very frustrating for him because he hasn’t put the ball in the back of the net since Bournemouth. He’s had opportunities and they’ve come and gone, and hopefully they will arrive at the right time for us, which is in the next 10 games. If we are to stay up then we need to get Christian scoring again, and I would hope he could bag five or six goals in the next 10 games to try and help the problem we’re in.”
Another player who got on the scoresheet during the international break was Wilfried Zaha, and Allardyce believes that his displays for the Ivory Coast will only help his development as a footballer.
“Once he came back from the Africa Cup of Nations he produced an unbelievable performance at Bournemouth, and then his form dipped a little bit but it has come back now,” said the Palace boss. “He’s gone away with the Ivory Coast again and scores an outstanding goal.
“Wilfried Zaha is maturing in his game because of his experience over the years, but also the experience he’ll get from international football as well as playing for Crystal Palace in the Premier League. At the moment he is in a very good place and that is all I am concerned about. He’s scoring goals as well as making them and I hope that continues until the end of the season.”