Crystal Palace will begin their New Year with a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a 19.45 kick-off on Wednesday, and Palace star Wilfried Zaha sat down to speak with Premier League Productions earlier in the week to preview the game and reflect on a largely positive conclusion to 2018.
Having faced the Midlands club earlier in the year, Zaha explained what it is that has made them so successful this season and went some way to explaining what their threats were that allowed them to beat the Eagles 1-0 at Selhurst in October.
He said, "Wolves are very good, they’ve got a lot of good players, are a good passing team and have got a good shape that they stick to. They’ve got good wingers and midfielders that are very creative.
"I’m not exactly surprised that they are where they are because of the way they play; they play good football and have done very decently this season."
Turning his attention back to Palace, the 26-year-old showed confidence and pride in his team's ability and run of form over December, reflecting that, "We could have and should have won against Cardiff because we had so many chances, but if someone had told us before the game that we were going to beat Man City and draw with Cardiff, we’d have taken it.
"That [City] game just proves that if we’re all on it, that’s what we can do. I feel like we should do that a lot more. If we just manage to pull it all together, we can get big results like that."
It was in that 3-2 win under the lights of the Etihad Stadium that one Palace man recorded perhaps the stand-out moment of his career in red and blue, and Zaha explained that Andros Townsend's thunderstrike has divided opinion and changed his treatment on the training pitches from even the very top.
"I was saying to Kyle Walker after the game, 'that’s Goal of the Season already', he said, ‘no, not yet, the season’s not over’. To be honest, Andros shoots from the most ridiculous places in training and the gaffer’s like, ‘stop shooting!’, but after that, everyone said you can shoot from anywhere! We all thought that has to be Goal of the Season."
And it's Hodgson who, between shifts keeping an eye on the 27-year-old Townsend's shooting tendencies, has guided Palace along a rough patch of form and, Zaha says, kept the side running while supporting the Ivorian individually as well.
"He’s helped me adapt to a different position because obviously I was on the wing before but now myself and Andros have to do a job. He’s helped me with that role, with the positioning and with the runs I should make.
"Things haven’t gone the way we wanted to but the words that he’s used to motivate us, because it’s difficult when things are not going your way, you feel like week in, week out you’re not getting any luck but he’s been there and done it so he’s managed to motivate us. Especially me, because it’s so frustrating when you know how good the squad can be."
On a lighter note, Zaha took a moment to look away from the pitch going into 2019, but, like most, struggled to pinpoint any resolutions to focus on.
"I haven’t thought of anything concrete yet but there should be a few. I’m not really good at keeping them, I’m not going to lie. But hopefully this year’s different; I’ll try my best."
To watch the full interview with Zaha, head over to Palace TV now. If you're reading in the app, just click 'Palace TV'.
And if you want to keep up-to-date with Palace's progress against Wolves live, you can listen to full commentary of the game via Palace Audio for just £1.49.