Premier League Player of the Week: Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha was in sparkling form against Sean Dyche’s Burnley on Saturday, securing his side three points with a sumptuous goal, capped off with an impressive attacking display. The Ivorian forward sealed the Clarets’ fate with his fourth goal in as many games, making him Maryam Naz’s Offside Rule Player of the Week.

1) Skills, turns and dummies

The 26-year-old was a handful for the Burnley defenders throughout the encounter at Turf Moor, using his skills to outfox Ben Mee and co.

Yet it wasn’t until the 76th minute that he really mesmerised the Clarets back four to a standstill.

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With the ball at his feet, Zaha danced past Mee, shifted to the left – sending Charlie Taylor and James Tarkowski tumbling to the ground – and slotted the ball through Tom Heaton’s legs to send Crystal Palace 3-1 up.

The Eagles will need him to operate at the peak of his offensive abilities if they are to push themselves into the top half of the Premier League table.

2) Explosive on the counter

Roy Hodgson’s pre-game message for the Ivorian was clear: allow the Burnley full-backs to make forward runs and then exploit the spaces left in-behind. Partnered with Jeffrey Schlupp, Zaha was able to do just that, making use of his explosive pace to turn defence into attack.

In the build-up to Phil Bardsley’s own goal, his burst of power saw him deliver a ball across the box that the defender just couldn’t turn away from goal.

Yet Burnley were to be embarrassed again when Zaha seared the swathes of grass at Turf Moor down the right-hand side to provide Aaron Wan-Bissaka with an assist to Michy Batshuayi’s stunning goal.

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All in all, Zaha’s pace and power down the flanks made him unplayable, and despite their best attempt to do so, Burnley failure to nullify his explosive counter-attacking abilities cost them the game.

3) Positional versatility

While Zaha lit up Palace’s attacking movements, it was his ability to work seamlessly with Batshuayi that saw him finally thrive in his preferred role.

The inclusion of Batshuayi freed up the 26-year-old, allowing the Palace forward to channel all his energy into providing pace and power on either flank.

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Zaha’s positional versatility against Dyche’s men was the most damning factor of the Eagles attack. If Batshuayi came short, the Ivorian would instantly be found filling the void. Yet he also showcased his capabilities in positions of width when his sparring partner made runs into the box.

The partnership budding between the two could allow Zaha to extend his current goalscoring streak, should Batshuayi continue providing the attacking support.

4) Honourable mentions

Zaha may have secured his position as Player of the Week, but one man who came close to usurping him was Romelu Lukaku.

The Manchester United forward scored twice against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton on Saturday to ensure United claimed all three points.

Follow Maryam on Twitter at @mnaz98

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