Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace: Dan Cook believes Wilfried Zaha’s drive will lead to 2022/23 success

Image for Crystal Palace: Dan Cook believes Wilfried Zaha’s drive will lead to 2022/23 success

Wilfried Zaha is playing with the same ‘hunger and drive’ that he showed in the second half of the 2012/13 campaign which saw Crystal Palace promoted to the Premier League.

That’s according to HLTCO podcaster Dan Cook, who can’t recall the Eagles talisman looking as ‘driven’ during his time as a top-flight player in England.

He enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career to date with 14 goals in the Premier League last term – nine of which came in the final 16 games following the Africa Cup of Nations.

Since returning to the club from Manchester United, the Ivorian ace has consistently been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park and has previously said himself that he feels he could have “another shot at the top teams”.

However, now closing in on his 30s, it could be that the £34.2m-rated forward sees out his career in SE25 – and Cook is of the impression that he could be about to drop an even better campaign this time around.

Speaking on the HLTCO podcast, he said: “In my mind, it feels like he has got that hunger and drive back from the 2013 season in which, of course, we ended up winning promotion to the Premier League.

“He was on the radar of a number of football clubs and obviously made that move to Manchester United in January before being immediately loaned back, and I think he was so single-minded in his desire to get Crystal Palace into the Premier League, that he went to another level in that second half of the season and it culminated, of course, in the semi-final against Brighton in which he scored both goals in the away leg and then obviously won the penalty in the final against Watford.

“I don’t really want to think about Crystal Palace post-Wilfried Zaha. If he is to leave and if this is to be the final year of that five-year contract without him penning another extension, then injury-permitting of course, I would back him to do extremely well.

“Whether that means he’s going to get the 17 goals necessary to reach 100 for the club, whether that means that the club is going to break into that top half and potentially challenge for a European place – this is all pie in the sky at this stage – but that remark that I made on social media about him looking more driven than I can remember in any year in the Premier League is one that I think is well-founded.”

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Ahead of Friday night’s curtain-raiser with Arsenal at Selhurst Park, the 29-year-old dynamo has scored three goals in the last two pre-season friendlies for Patrick Vieira’s side.

He was deployed through the middle of the front three a handful of times by his manager last term, and history would suggest that he is at his most prolific when playing as a centre-forward.

He has scored 22 goals and produced a further 10 assists in 68 matches in that position (as per Transfermarkt) and featuring in that role could no doubt help him to reach a century of strikes for the Eagles.

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