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African All Stars

Crystal Palace’s Vieira backs Ivorian star Zaha to take his game to another level

18:12 WAT 13/05/2022
Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast.
The African star has been a standout performer for the Premier League club in the current campaign

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira believes Ivory Coast international Wilfried Zaha can take his game to a different level and help the Premier League club in the process.

With 13 goals, the Ivorian star is the Eagles’ top scorer this season, and his impressive performances have caught Vieira's eye.

"When you talk about Crystal Palace, you talk about Wilfried Zaha," Vieira said in his pre-match press conference. "He’s done fantastically well. As a manager, I would love to keep him, and he as well needs to want to be here.

"This season, I think he’s shown to everyone what this football club means to him, because he’s been performing well and he’s been scoring goals. I believe he can still take himself to a different level and help the team to grow."

Five of Zaha’s Premier League goals this season have been the winning goals, including in each of his last two matches. No player has ever scored more winning goals in a single campaign for Crystal Palace than Zaha.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace will face Aston Villa in their next game, and Vieira praised their weekend rivals and pinpointed the challenges he expects to encounter at Villa Park.

"I’m not surprised, because when you look at the talent that they have obviously they are not in the position they should be," added Vieira. "There is some real talent in the team and we’re expecting a challenging game.

"[Aston Villa] were one of our tough games at home. They started the game well, and in the first-half it was really difficult to play. They defended well as a team, and we couldn’t pass the ball around, we couldn’t create chances.

"It became really frustrating for us. We know what to expect and how good they can be. We want to play well and do our best."

The former Arsenal star revealed his end-of-season ambitions and wishes in the summer transfer window.

"It’s for us to finish the season well and to look at ourselves and say we maximised the potential of the team and we are where we want to be," he concluded. "It would be a really good achievement for the football club to finish in the top 10 with the summer we went through.

"After that, it’s about how we can improve ourselves and which couple of players we can bring in to improve the club.

On the remaining games, he said: "It’s just finishing these three games as best as we can, and then after we have to analyse the parts of the game we have to improve. At the minute, [it] is not the right time to talk about [the season as a whole]."