Wilfried Zaha feels he is back to his best form thanks to the pressure put on him by Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira.
Zaha, 29, has shown mixed form in recent years, with injury dogging him at times. And there is also a sense that his attacking instincts were held back by previous boss Roy Hodgson. The former England chief was known to be a cautious manager and Zaha was often called on to undertake defensive duties.
But, with the shackles off under the new regime, he is thriving at Selhurst Park. The former Manchester United star has bagged four Premier League goals to date – as many as he did throughout the entire 2019-2020 campaign.
The Ivory Coast international scored 11 league goals last term and is on track to at least match that number. Vieira has been roundly praised for the work he has done with the Eagles since replacing Hodgson.
The south Londoners sit 10th in the table, with 17 points from 12 games played. They have lost just twice, with three wins and seven draws on their record.
Zaha is a big fan of the Arsenal legend and feels he has picked up many tips from the Frenchman.
“There is so much you can take from him,” he said, per The Evening Standard. “It is different when you’ve actually seen them play because you buy into what they say more because it’s like they understand the game, they’ve done it before.
“I can learn so much from him. [Our relationship] is very good actually. He is very chilled, loves a joke and tries to pick on me a lot.”
Zaha relishing life under Vieira
There were times when Zaha cut a forlorn figure under Hodgson. The veteran coach managed to keep the club in England’s top division but they were not billed as entertainers.
That has now all changed, with Christian Benteke and Conor Gallagher both netting four times as well. But Zaha is the undisputed Palace talisman.
And the former Cardiff City loan star has lifted the lid on how his boss manages to get the best out of him.
“Our relationship is good, very good off the pitch and I know he is very demanding of me on the pitch so I try to do my best,” he added. “Am I improving? Yeah, because I feel the pressure to do more and do better because he expects more from me.
“I feel like I perform better under pressure because if I’m just easy then things start to go a bit pear-shaped because I don’t put that pressure on myself and every day he is demanding more and more from me.
“Sometimes it is annoying but he wants the best for me so I am trying to do my best.”