Ebere Eze & Wilfried Zaha Are Making Crystal Palace Fun Again

Crystal Palace are a mind-boggling conundrum.

The Eagles either soar to unexpected, dominant victories against quality sides, or fail to land a punch on some of the weaker adversaries in the division. For every stunning 3-1 win away at Old Trafford, there's a frustrating 1-0 defeat to Burnley thrown in for good measure.

That may have something to do with the variety of forwards on which they hang their goalscoring hat. Or should we say, the lack of variety. What this Palace side (and many others) miss is a regular scorer, someone who is going to hit 15 goals a season.

In its place, they rely on the insanely talented yet annoyingly inconsistent maverick-type of Wilfried Zaha. Zaha has proven over his years in the Premier League that he can win games single-handedly, and when he's on form, there are very few better attacking stars in the top flight.

However, when he's not firing, the whole team suffers. Even in the moments when he's clearly not finding the spaces and creating the chances he usually enjoys, Palace force the ball down his throat and wait for him to do something.

It is a very 'Will Smith playing basketball in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' kind of vibe.

Cheery chappy | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Luckily, another baller has burst onto the scene. Anyone who watched Ebere Eze tear up the Championship for Queens Park Rangers last year knew just how easily he would adapt to the demands of the Premier League.

For those who weren't fortunate enough to have tracked his progress, a layer of doubt surely remained over his transition into the big leagues. As it happens, the Premier League is the one being forced to adapt to Eze's style.

The 22-year-old plays the game like he's controlling Ronaldinho on FIFA Street back in 2005. He collects the ball, takes a split second all to himself, sizes up his marker, and then cuts him down in ruthless but gleeful style. His sense of timing and understanding of when to stop, when to move and when to whip the ball from under his opponent's nose is unteachable.

Eze plays at his own speed, meaning others must bend to his will and let him strut his stuff.

He carries the ball forward like he's teasing his adversary, tempting them into sticking out a boot and overcommitting, even if deep down, they know they'll never make the tackle in time. This ability to play on defenders' emotions and instincts makes him such a danger when gliding forward, and causes his opponents to take decisive, if usually illegal action to stop him.

And of course, his key attribute? Eze takes the heat off of Wilf. The Ivorian is allowed that extra fraction of a second on the ball now, as defenders glance nervously over their shoulders for the fluid movement of Zaha's new playmate.

The duo unsurprisingly have developed a wonderful understanding, rotating around one another and running rings around opponents. There is a genuine bravery and artistic expression in their play, and it shows in the areas in which they are willing to take risks.

West Bromwich Albion loanee Conor Gallagher was sent back to Stamford Bridge by Eze on Sunday, twisting and turning on so many occasions that the midfielder lost his balance and stumbled five yards in the wrong direction. All that, inside the Crystal Palace half.

Having fun | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

I suppose it's not a risk if you don't fear the consequences.

And that's the joy of Eze. He plays the game with the freedom we all experienced on the playground, but with the ability of someone destined for greatness. Statistics show he only managed one assist in the 5-1 hammering of the Baggies, but performances like this demonstrate why facts and figures only tell a fraction of the story.

Eze was at his devastating best against West Brom on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles against the Baggies may not be appetising viewing while tucking into your Sunday roast, but the free spirit is becoming so influential that he has even managed to make a Roy Hodgson side a must-watch.

That's some going.

Eze supplied Zaha with the fourth goal, picking the ball up midway inside the West Brom half, slaloming between a series of challenges and ghosting into the penalty area with such ease. It was frightening.

But these are the standards we know he can reach, and regular viewers will be desperate to see him hit them on a more regular basis. Because when Eze is on form, there are few better sights in football than seeing the youngster put his foot on the ball, take a second, and prepare to express himself.

Source : 90min