Wilfried Zaha has been in dominant form for Crystal Palace so far this season, and says he has been working on a number of areas of his game to become a more effective threat. The Ivory Coast international has scored five goals so far and added two assists to that tally – already matching last season’s attacking output in just eight games. The 28-year-old says that his positional change has had a huge impact, but he has implemented more of a tunnel vision as he cuts out a lot of his dribbling and takes more shots.
Wilfred Zaha said “I used to dribble in my own half so much, By the time I got to the goal, I was too tired to cross it or shoot. So now I try to save my energy for the key moments. I have worked on my technique to allow me to execute certain passes, through-balls and shots that I want to take on. I’m not really the main No.9 with my back to goal, but as a second striker that No.9 will set it off to me, I can come deeper and play. It’s totally different to a winger, but I don’t have my back to goal there either so it’s much easier for me. Out wide I’ve got the whole picture. If I take a touch, I’ve got a bit more time to execute what I want to do. If I want to switch it to play a one-two, I can see everyone’s movement. When I play up front I don’t really have the full picture, so I have to play a lot quicker. As the ball is coming into me, either I have to take a touch of the ball to move it to give me a split second to decide to go forward or back and set it. Or whether I go and set it with one touch and spin. I have to decide what to do before I get the ball, or if I come and get the ball I have to set it back. Now, I tend to just drift more really. I feel like if I drift and get the ball deeper, not that deep, but get the ball, turn and face up the centre-back. Being closer to the goal gives me a better chance of scoring. Out wide I’d have to go past a full-back, a midfielder and sometimes a centre-back as well. It allows me to be more efficient and cut out as much dribbling. I’m near the edge of the box – my goal against Manchester United [his second in Palace’s 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September], if I get past the defender in front of me all I need to do is get a shot on target. I used to be a lot greedier when I was younger. This season I’m more tunnel vision. I’m a bit more greedy. For example, penalties. Why am I not taking my own penalties? These are things I can do. Taking more shots, why am I not doing it? I reflect on everything and think there’s nothing stopping me doing it so why not do it? That’s why there’s a difference, I’m just going for things more and there shouldn’t be any restraints on my game.”
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