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Players to star in 2019/20: Wilfried Zaha

Adrian Clarke 18 May 2019
Wilfried Zaha CRYBOU

Adrian Clarke says Crystal Palace forward can continue his improvement

Adrian Clarke looks at players who impressed in 2018/19 and can continue to go from strength to strength in 2019/20.

Wilfried Zaha

Delivering three impressive seasons in a row, the Crystal Palace star is one of the most consistently dangerous Premier League forwards.

During a lively 2018/19, Zaha scored 10 goals and made five assists, earning a further six penalties for Roy Hodgson’s side.

He proved Palace's talisman, with his skills tormenting defenders from the wing or down the middle.

Still just 26, there is scope for further improvement in the next few years, too.

Zaha's PL seasons in stats
  2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Mins 3025 2551 3040
Goals 7 9 10
Assists 9 3 5
Key passes 39 53 54
Penalties won 1 4 6
Cross success 23.8% 18.4% 29.7%
Times fouled 121 76 102

When you study Zaha’s statistics they do not always reflect his quality.

Indeed, compared with some of the Premier League's leading lights his goals and assists are not extraordinary.

But, the way Zaha puts defenders ill at ease is a big intangible asset.

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    Wilfried Zaha
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Wilfried Zaha Player Profile

Nobody won more penalties than Zaha last term, one ahead of Mohamed Salah.

He was also the second-most fouled player in the division, winning just two free-kicks fewer than Eden Hazard.

Pushing on

Without Zaha it is unlikely Palace would have scored three times at the Etihad Stadium, Anfield and Emirates Stadium in 2018/19.

His pace and positivity gives the Eagles penetration.

Putting defenders on the back foot, he gets inside the opposition penalty area more frequently than most Premier League attackers, and far more than any player outside a top-six team.

For Palace, the next closest to Zaha's total of 237 for most touches inside the box is Andros Townsend, with 92.

The way he pushes teams backwards is such a valuable commodity.

Most touches inside opponents' box
Player Touches
 Mohamed Salah 322
 Raheem Sterling  298
 Eden Hazard 240
 Wilfried Zaha 237
 Sergio Aguero 222

Switching between roles as a left-winger or striker, Zaha’s willingness to run with the ball poses a constant threat.

He is exciting to watch and a player always looking to ask questions of the opposition.

In Premier League terms, Zaha's dribbling skills are up there with the best.

Most dribbles tried and completed
Dribbles attempted  Dribbles completed 
 Zaha 249  Hazard 138
 Hazard 224  Zaha 113
 Redmond 189  Redmond 92
 Anderson 172  Sterling 82
 Salah 169  Salah 81

The 26-year-old is a unique talent who is maturing nicely as a footballer and 2019/20 should be his best season yet.

Also in this series

Part 1: Players to star in 2019/20: Bernd Leno
Part 2: Players to star in 2019/20: Fabinho
Part 4: Players to star in 2019/20: Hamza Choudhury
Part 5: Players to star in 2019/20: Lucas Moura

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