Roy Hodgson has praised the performances of Wilfried Zaha over recent weeks, drawing attention to the Ivorian’s deep-rooted connections with the club.
After a convincing display against Norwich City in which Crystal Palace won 2-0, Hodgson commented on the talismanic winger in his post-match press conference.
When asked if Zaha had changed the match, Hodgson said: “He’s done that in the last few games. He was even better against Wolves than today. He was good today but against Wolves he was even better. He had an excellent game.
“At the start of the season, the first two games really, he wasn’t perhaps the Wilf we know and love but since that time he has been the Wilf that we know and love. Like I’ve said right the way through, like Steve [Parish] has said right the way through, he’s a player we need.
“To his credit, he’s focussed on one thing and one thing only and that is helping Crystal Palace.
“This where he was brought up, the club that took care of him from his earliest years and this is the club which has shown him so much love, not just in terms of Steve Parish and the club board but the fans. He’s aware of all of that.”
But his attacking talent wasn’t the only member of the team who Hodgson was keen to praise, and the Palace manager expressed his gratitude at being asked how important his defence are in earning the Eagles’ recent results.
Having kept their 100th Premier League clean sheet today, Palace are continuing to be well regarded for their defensive solidity, and Hodgson explained how they operated today.
He said: “I think defensively we are a very hard working team. Everyone does bring their straw to the water if that’s the right expression.
“People like Wilf Zaha, they don’t just stand up the field and wait to be served with the ball - they come back and do their defensive work as well. That’s something we all know. If you want to keep clean sheets, if you want to make certain that you’re not going to concede goals, that’s an 11-man effort.
“We’ve got an exceptional centre-forward [Jordan Ayew] who does more than one can expect in terms of his defensive duties as well as his offensive duties. Certainly I thought we tightened up considerably in the second-half from that 20-minute spell.
“There was definitely a spell towards the end of the first-half where I thought we started to sag with our defence and they [Norwich] were getting the ball into the areas where we didn’t really want them to have it. Ie: that corridor if you like between the midfield and the back players and I thought we really tightened up in the second-half.
“We got a better balance between the pressing which of course had been very good at the start of the game but was never going to be able to be maintained for 95 minutes. And in another era, having not still had that spectre of last week’s goal with 15 seconds left to play, I might even have been feeling pretty comfortable during that second-half.”
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