Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson expects Wilfried Zaha to finish season on a high

Phil Blanche, PA
·3-min read

Wilfried Zaha has been backed to finish the season strongly for Crystal Palace after his eye-catching display against Chelsea.

Zaha scored his first goal of 2020 during Palace’s unlucky 3-2 defeat to their London rivals on Tuesday as he found the form that made the Ivory Coast international one of the most exciting talents in the Premier League.

“He’s had some good games during this period and some games where I’m sure that he’ll have said he can do better,” Hodgson said ahead of Palace’s trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

“The other night he was certainly at the very, very top of his game and I see no reason why he shouldn’t keep that going in the last four games.

“I’m convinced we’re going to see some very good things from him in these last 360-odd minutes.

“I’m pretty sure also he’ll be looking to try and add to that tally of goals and assists so at the end of the season he’s got a bit more to show for what he’s done this season.”

Palace are safe from the threat of relegation, but talk of a European place just a few short weeks ago looks very much misplaced.

The Eagles, currently 14th and on 42 points, have lost their last four games and their season is in danger of petering out.

But it is not difficult to see where they have fallen short, with just 30 goals in 34 games and only bottom-placed Norwich having scored fewer than the south London outfit.

“We work hard in training and I think we create chances,” Hodgson said.

“I think we get the ball around the opponents’ penalty area in most games. There are exceptions, at Liverpool we didn’t create any chances, but in most games we create our share of chances.

“The three of them (Zaha, Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew) have the ability to improve their tallies.”

Benteke was on target against Chelsea as the Belgium striker scored only his second goal in 24 appearances this season.

But Hodgson suggested his main priority this summer would be strengthening his strikeforce

“I don’t think there has been any reason to contest his (Benteke’s) desire to get into those positions, or his desire to score goals and it’s good to see him getting on the scoresheet,” Hodgson said.

“Hopefully that will encourage him to keep doing those things and hopefully the ball will be kind for him when it falls into his area.

“You’re always looking at areas where your teams could improve or where the squad wants strengthening.

“We have four players who can play in the striking positions.

“There won’t be many teams, even those with injury problems at this stage of the season, that only have four players to choose from for three positions.

“It’s pretty obvious that’s an area we’ve got to do some work in.”