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Wilfried Zaha relieved of Crystal Palace defensive duties in hunt for more goals under Patrick Vieira

·2-min read
Wilfried Zaha’s only goal so far this season came from the penalty spot against Spurs  (Getty Images)
Wilfried Zaha’s only goal so far this season came from the penalty spot against Spurs (Getty Images)

Wilfried Zaha says Patrick Vieira has challenged him to up his numbers in front of goal and not waste energy tracking back for new-look Crystal Palace.

The former Arsenal midfielder was appointed as Roy Hodgson's successor as Eagles boss over the summer and has gone about transforming their approach this season.

Vieira has moved away from Hodgson's pragmatic but effective counter-attacking style, where every player worked tirelessly out of possession and as one unit. Instead the Frenchman wants to play out from the back and is encouraging Zaha to save his legs for the final third.

"Me personally, he feels I can add a lot more to the team," Zaha told talkSPORT.

"Goals and assists and the thing he says now is, 'I don't want you involved in that [defensive] side of the half, stay up on this side', which is perfect, it saves my energy for attacking, which is the main thing.

"At the end of the day football now is all about stats. People will look on Match of the Day whether I have scored and assisted, it doesn't matter if I've tracked back - it is about my goals.

"That is the conversation we've had, I need to score more goals. I need to assist more and I'm up the pitch more.

"In a team I am only effective if I'm not tired. If I am tired and I've ran past three players, don't even expect my shot to be on target. I am tired, you can't play when you are tired.

“Our game just can't be counter attacks all the time. He has just told me to stay up the pitch and do what I do up the pitch, make the difference."

Zaha scored a career-best 11 Premier League goals under Hodgson last season and has one goal and one assist in five games under Vieira so far.

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Wilfried Zaha: Crystal Palace are not just a counter-attacking team under Patrick Vieira

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