Journalist Tom Barclay reckons that Crystal Palace would have been relegated without Wilfried Zaha in recent seasons.
Zaha, who recently played his 400th game for the Eagles, has been their talisman for a number of years now and their record when he doesn’t play only epitomises his importance to the club.
What is Palace’s record without Zaha?
Prior to their victory over Brighton back in February, Palace had lost 18 of their previous 20 games without the winger in their side and looked doomed whenever the Ivorian international was either injured or suspended.
Even more concerning, the majority of those defeats, Palace actually failed to score and lacked any sort of creativity or goal threat without Zaha.
But their draw with Arsenal on Monday night was perhaps a turning point. Not only did it extend their unbeaten Premier League record with no Zaha to four games (W1 D3), but Patrick Vieira’s men showed that they now have other players that’re capable of stepping up in his absence.
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Alexandre Lacazette’s added-time equaliser meant it turned out to be a frustrating return to north London for Vieira, but there was plenty to build on for the Frenchman, not to mention he was also without Eberechi Eze.
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And Barclay was encouraged by what he saw at the Emirates despite Zaha not being available.
What did Barclay say?
He told GIVEMESPORT: “I was really impressed with them. It makes you really appreciate what Wilf Zaha has done for Palace in recent years.
“They would probably be a Championship team without him now because he’s so crucial. He’s still a really good player, it’s not like he’s on the wane, they’ve just got so many creative options.”
When is Zaha expected to return?
Palace might have looked a well-oiled machine against the Gunners, but his return can’t come quick enough.
And Vieira might just be in luck, with The Sun reporting that the 28-year-old is on course to be back in contention to feature against Newcastle this weekend.
Zaha, who’s valued at £40.5m by Transfermarkt, missed out at the Emirates through illness, but has already returned to training, which should allow him to take his place back in the starting XI, providing he doesn’t suffer any setbacks before then.