Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has shot to fame over the last year or so as part of Jurgen Klopp’s first-team, prompting Gareth Southgate to use him regularly at England senior level.
Whilst the youngster copes remarkably well with the majority of his opponents from week to week, there are a couple he’s consistently struggled against, one of whom is Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.
The 19-year-old is now just one appearance short of 50 in the Liverpool first-team, 30 of which have come in the Premier League. Whilst he’s still a baby in relative terms, he will now have faced plenty of the game’s top attacking threats both domestically and in Europe, making his decision to name Wilfried Zaha alongside Marcus Rashford as one of his two most difficult assignments a major compliment for the Ivory Coast man.
There are plenty who still choose to talk down the qualities of Palace’s academy graduate but the country’s top full-backs name him as one of their toughest challenges from year-to-year, proving that for all the talk of end product, coming up against him is a task no defender in world football will enjoy.
Palace’s top flight record without the 25-year-old is well documented already but with all signs pointing towards him being back to full fitness in time for this weekend’s trip to Huddersfield, Roy Hodgson should at least be able to prepare the team in their usual tactical set-up, rather than being forced to adapt to the sizeable hole that is left by his absence in the match-day squad.
If the Terriers attempts to thwart him last season are anything to go by, Zaha should be bracing himself for another 90 minute kicking this weekend, meaning it’s up to our coaches and his teammates to ensure that the referee is made aware of the likelihood that he’ll be targeted from the off. It’s now universally accepted that Capoue got away with what should have been a straight red card in the opening minutes of our game against Watford a couple of weeks ago, let’s hope we’re not retreading a similar path in the days that follow our trip to take on David Wagner and co.