Crystal Palace

Opinion: Zaha-dependent Crystal Palace need duo to raise their game

Opinion: Zaha-dependent Crystal Palace need duo to raise their game

Crystal Palace’s winless run without Wilfried Zaha in the team continued after losing 2-0 to Southampton at Selhurst Park last weekend with their talisman sidelined through injury.

Last season, the Eagles lost all of the nine games they played in Zaha’s absence, and the trend of failing to pick up wins — or a single point for that matter — when the 25-year-old is unavailable only looks set to continue if the game against Southampton is anything to go by.

Simply put, it is not good enough and manager Roy Hodgson must start demanding more from his players — regardless of Zaha’s availability — starting with Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend.

Christian Benteke

Having been brought in for big money from Liverpool back in 2016 and arrived with a reputation as being one of the top strikers in the Premier League, Benteke has turned out to be nothing but a massive disappointment.

The Belgian initially took to life in south London well after managing to score 15 league goals in his first season at Crystal Palace.

However, he has declined massively since, registering only three Premier League goals in 31 appearances last term to put his fall from grace into perspective.

Ultimately, sooner or later, Crystal Palace will have to make a decision about what to do with the 27-year-old.

But, until then, for the sake of Crystal Palace’s chances of retaining their Premier League status, Benteke has to start scoring, especially if Zaha is not in the side.

Andros Townsend

Townsend offers significantly more in attack than Benteke, but there is always this feeling that there is another level for the 27-year-old to reach.

Townsend is brilliant at getting past the opposition’s left-back and then cutting inside to arrive in more central areas of the pitch; however, a lot of the time not much comes after that.

The England international’s end product is still far from perfect, often firing a shot way over the crossbar or misplacing a cross.

Considering the positions he tends to pick up in the final third, Townsend should really be delivering better numbers in terms of both goals and assists.

If Crystal Palace want to progress and avoid constant relegation battles, then the likes of Townsend and Benteke have to step up instead of relying on Zaha every weekend.

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