One of the ever-present characteristics of our play during the current unbeaten run, has been the presence of pace and skill on both wings.
In Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie we have two of the best wide men in the division and thanks to the formation we have adopted as our own, they are both given a huge amount of freedom whenever we attack, but it’s not something we can say we’ve honestly had as a squad for at least four years.
The last time I can remember two out-and-out wingers running at full-backs with regularity was the play-off season under Neil Warnock, when Victor Moses and Scott Sinclair were given free rein to terrorise defences with Clinton Morrison occupying the same role as Glenn Murray does now. A game that tends to stick in my mind vividly, was the final league fixture of that season, when we needed to beat Burnley at home to secure a play-off place. We won 5-0, with the aforementioned trio causing havoc from start to finish. It was the perfect advert for the use of width in our division, implemented correctly, it can prove devastating.
Obviously, our teams both then and now, require a great deal more than just talented wingers for the style to produce regular results, but it does seem to pay off in a big way when a manager gets it right. As touched on yesterday, the two defensive midfielders add the steel to the spine of the team which is necessary for Zaha and Bolasie to flourish whilst the attacking central midfielder offers himself up as a third viable creative option but should one of the wingers sustain a long-term injury, the entire shape of the side could alter.
In any counter-attack, it is pace which frightens the opposition, and outside of Zaha and Bolasie, we are a little short of speed. Of course, in an ideal world, they will both stay fit throughout the season, but if there is any budget for it in January, I could see definite benefits in signing another winger for the occasions when one of the above is unavailable. It would allow us to maintain our style without much disruption and hopefully, continue to win games when the pressure is really on in the final weeks of the campaign.
Few teams have the width we do, I’m just glad to see us using it so well.
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“I’ve seen him play a couple of times this season against Cardiff City at home and Wolverhampton Wanderers away,” Thomas said.
“At Wolves, I sat next to an England coach and it was obvious they had been tracking him for a while.
“He was the standout player that game and capped it off with two great goals out of nothing – that’s the beauty of people like him – he’s got potential to win a game by himself.
“I’d be surprised if he went down the Ivory Coast route because he’s played at U19 and U21 levels with England.
“It’s difficult to say at the moment because I’m sure the Ivory Coast are jumping up and down saying they want him as well.
“It’s obviously his country of birth but he’s been here since he was four years old, so I think what he’s got to do is experience what’s going on with the England camp and take what he feels in his heart.
“He can’t have any regrets on the decision but to have a cap for any international country is special, so he’s got to make sure he’s doing everything for the right reasons.”
Palace’s development side shared the points with Wolves at Selhurst with Jermaine Easter netting against his former club in a 1-1 draw.The game began slowly and the only action of the opening 15 minutes saw Kandell Daniel fire a free-kick over the bar and Liam McAllinden shoot wide from 25 yards as both sides struggled to find their rhythm.However the Eagles took the lead in the 20th minute when a defensive mix-up between Zeli Ismail and Michael Ikiekwe was pounced upon by Easter who calmly passed the ball past the helpless Dorus De Vries to net against his former club.
The Bleacher Report has an opinion piece stating that Wilfried Zaha would “shine” if he were to join Manchester United. The link between the two comes after the Daily Mail reported that United were prepared to offer whatever it takes to secure his services in January, I make it rumour number 4,569 about Zaha this season, it’s never-ending.
It’s no surprise Zaha has started to generate interest from some of the Premier League’s top clubs. His potential is through the roof and he’s been developing at a steady rate for the Eagles. His stock should only continue to rise in the coming years.
His combination of speed and natural technical skill, as he’s illustrated so often en route to four goals in Championship play this season, makes him one of the most intriguing prospects in England’s second division. He’s certainly fun to watch.
A far better alternative in the promotion shake up is the 13/8 that says Crystal Palace will be plying their trade a station higher next term.
The Eagles are two points clear at the Championship’s summit and have not tasted defeat since the end of August.
Ian Holloway’s appointment seems to have spurred them on even more as they completed a hat-trick of wins under his guidance at Derby’s expense last time out.
Their price, however, suggests that the bookies expect them to wilt as the season progresses.
They surely won’t remain unbeaten in a division as tight as the Championship, but they are showing all the qualities required of promotion contenders of late and their price does not justify this.
If you subscribe to Palace Player, you can now watch the entire 90 minutes of our 3 – 0 win against Derby County on their official site, thanks to the interchangeable subscriptions in the Football League, enjoy.
Rams Player subscribers can watch Derby County’s 3-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace at the weekend in full.Nigel Clough’s men had no answer to the Championship leaders as striker Glenn Murray hit a brace, while midfielder Andrew Moritz also found the net to inflict back-to-back defeats on Derby for the first time this season.
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has been named PFA Championship Player of the Month for October.
The 20-year-old, whose brilliant form earned him his first England cap in last week’s friendly against Sweden, was influential for Palace as they continued their unbeaten run throughout October.
His personal highlights were his back-to-back braces in victories against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley, but he has proved a menace against every defence he has faced.
There will be people, mainly from those individual clubs, who believe and support both comments but this is of no concern to Palace.
It is a natural part of being the team everyone wants to beat. In advance of our upcoming fixtures, opponents now seem to feel it is necessary to try and plant seeds of doubt in the minds of our players and manager, just to allow them to linger.
However, confidence is sky-high and this is a team playing with an enormous amount of self belief, so hearing these words actually justifies the work and effort they are putting in.