Roy Hodgson’s day to day work on the training ground has proved instrumental in the club’s turnaround in fortune as the Palace squad look back on a run of only one defeat in twelve top flight games.
Wilfried Zaha believes that the manager’s attention to detail at the Copers Cope training ground through the week has proved the perfect preparation for the squad as they attempted to play catch up after their start to the season.
After a seven match run of no points and no goals to their name not many would have been predicting that the side who face a trip to the Emirates this weekend could have gone on a run of results which has seen them move into 12th place.
“He has come in and shown us so much through what we do on the training pitch through the week, we repeat certain sessions and that really drills into us what is expected of us on a matchday and we plan ready for each situation.
“The advice that he gives you comes from a lot of experience and seen so much and as a player that helps massively. From a personal point of view he is right up there for being one of the best managers that I have worked under because he has tried me in different playing positions and helped me develop my game more. He has had me playing up front and that was a position I didn’t think I was able to do so he has helped me become a better player.”
The points total is at 25 but the winger knows that there is no place for complacency as that position means the side is just five points above third from bottom, Stoke City.
“The Premier League is a tight league and every game becomes a must win but we have done well playing under that pressure which has been on us. There wouldn’t have been too many people at the beginning of the season thinking we would be in this position we are now, as always in football, never say never. “Said the 25 year old as he reflected on the progress that the side have since their first victory of the season in October.
One of the worst list of injuries that Hodgson can recall at one of his clubs in his management career has not helped the club’s pursuit to climb the table but Zaha has been impressed with the way that others have adapted and shown the right attitude to put the manager’s fitness problems behind them.
“It’s a difficult one to understand because we have had quite a few players get injured and have to be out of the side for quite some time but the gaffer has done well in the way he has managed to change things around and we have still managed to grind out results, an example of that being last weekend when we managed to beat Burnley so even though we have got the injuries we have still tried to kick on. You just have to deal with it and not feel sorry for yourselves; the games are coming thick and fast so you need to make sure those that are out playing do the job for you and that is what we are doing right now."
On Saturday the side face a trip to Arsenal to play an away game in which they haven’t picked up maximum points from since 1994. Having come close to getting something from the recent encounter between the two sides at Selhurst Park, it is a game that the Palace winger is hoping the Eagles can turn their results record around at the home of the Gunners.
“It’s always tough going away to Arsenal but we all know football is crazy and you just don’t know what is going to happen and the form we are in right now we could just get something over there. I feel that regardless of who we are playing that if we play our game to the top of our ability then something must happen for us.
“I think looking back in the second half we certainly had a number of chances to score some goals whilst in the first half we paid them a little bit too much respect but I am sure that game on Saturday will be a totally different game.”
Wilf has made eighteen appearances this season, scoring four goals following his return from his opening day injury and believes the season so far is one that he can take many positives from but is also ready to to continue to learn at how best he can move his game onto the next level.
“I am just trying to understand my own game more and more as I get older and gain more experience. I have more of an idea of when to shoot, dribble or cross the ball so I just really happy with how my game is at the moment. I have been here whilst the club have gone through different periods of their history and know how much it means to the fans when we go out there and my methods have never changed every time I go out on the pitch I am looking to give 100%.
“I am still at that point where I am still trying to understand what I am best at and what of my game I need to improve so even though I am enjoying things at the moment I still think the best is still to come."
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