Crystal Palace supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their side book their place in the next round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
Roy Hodgson’s men edged past Championship outfit Swansea City in the second round last month to set up a tie with second tier club West Brom at the Hawthorns last night, which was one they came through with flying colours. The Eagles eased to a 3-0 win in the Midlands on Tuesday thanks to a brace from Andros Townsend alongside a Patrick van Aanholt strike, thus moving them a step closer to winning the competition for the first time in their history.
Thus, there have been many delighted Palace fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom were particularly happy with Tuesday’s result given they got the win without influential man Wilfried Zaha.
And while it was only a cup game, and winning with the Ivory Coast international in the Premier League remains a problem, it is still good news for Hodgson’s men, although the manager will be hoping that striker Christian Benteke can rediscover his best form to help ease the burden on the former Manchester United winger.
Ultimately, it goes without saying that Zaha is the best player at Selhurst Park, with the 25-year-old already having netted three goals in just five league games for the Eagles this term, adding to the nine he bagged last time round, and the seven the season before.
Take Zaha out of the Palace team, and it’s arguable that what Hodgson is left with is a side that would be in and around the relegation places, but in former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker Benteke, he has a striker that knows his way around the Premier League, and is certainly good enough to take the mantle and thus reduce the expectations on 25-year-old Zaha.
27-year-old Benteke made the move to the English top-flight back in 2012 to join Midlands giants Villa, and he was without doubt their star man during his three-year stint at Villa Park, netting 49 goals in 101 appearances for the club – it’s no coincidence that they were relegated the season after they sold the Belgium international to Liverpool.
And while things weren’t necessarily brilliant at Anfield, Benteke bagged 15 league goals in his first season at Palace in 2016/17 – in fact, other than his meagre tally of three goals last season, the forward has managed at least nine goals in all of his other seasons in the Premier League.
Thus, it’s pretty evident that there is a mighty fine striker in Benteke and one that can win Hodgson’s team matches when he’s on-song – that hasn’t been the case recently, but the ability is certainly there.
And with Palace becoming increasingly reliant on Zaha, and oppositions becoming increasingly aware of that, Hodgson needs his other big players to step up and ease the burden on the Ivorian – Benteke certainly falls into that category.
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