Following our dramatic late victory over Aston Villa, Alan Pardew has challenged Wilfried Zaha to step his game up a level.
Clearly desperate to see the academy product reach his full potential in SE25, the Palace boss has been quick to forget Zaha’s opening day strike against Norwich, preferring instead to reference the emergence of Bakary Sako as a possible concern for Zaha’s hopes of starting every week.
Speaking to the press about his hopes for Wilfried in the games to come, Pardew said:
“We’ve stepped up a level, this team, and he has to step up with us.
I’ve seen good reactions from him, but he is under pressure. Sako is going to put him under pressure, so will Yannick Bolasie when he returns from compassionate leave.
And we haven’t seen Lee Chung-Yong yet. It’s a real nice problem there.”
For the first time in years, we have genuine quality running throughout the squad in every attacking position, making the job of selecting our starting XI each week harder than ever before.
Whilst Yannick Bolasie will remain at home in Congo with his family for as long as he needs following the passing of his father, Pardew is right to reference the battle Wilf will have on his hands once Yannick returns, for motivational purposes above all else.
Far from the sceptical approach Manchester United took towards Zaha’s potential development, we at Selhurst Park are simply keen to see the wide man achieve all that he can as he approaches the stereotypically labelled as the “best” years of a winger’s career. In order to do that, he will need to perform well consistently, rather than in patches, which is exactly what Pardew is asking for from him ahead of a trip to Chelsea next weekend.
Having attempted to light a fire under Zaha’s backside, the boss will undoubtedly be looking for a reaction from him at Stamford Bridge. Let’s hope his words have the desired effect.