Eberechi Eze Showed Exactly What He Can Bring to This Crystal Palace Team in Win Over Leeds

Roy Hodgson will have been looking for a reaction from his Crystal Palace squad after seeing them fall to a 2-0 defeat to Wolves last time out in a game in which they were flat.

And this is exactly what he got. Jeffrey Schlupp came out of the starting lineup for the tussle with Leeds, with Eberechi Eze coming in to replace him. This saw Palace revert back to a 4-4-2, with Wilfried Zaha playing more centrally.

The changes were subtle, but they laid the foundations for success against a Leeds side who have been praised for their attacking flair. Not only did the Eagles neutralise Marcelo Bielsa's men, they were a constant threat when going forward, exposing the gaps in the Peacocks backline time and time again.

Zaha will likely receive all the plaudits for his sparkling display, but it was Eze who was particularly impressive as he grasped his opportunity on his return to the side.

Still only 22, Eze arrived at Selhurst Park during the summer with a growing reputation after netting 14 times and providing a further eight assists for QPR in 2019/20. But while he has shown flashes of what he can do in the early stages of the 2020/21 campaign, it was clear he still required time to adjust to a new league and style of play. And this is more than understandable.

Eze played with real confidence | Pool/Getty Images

But Eze was outstanding against Leeds, playing with confidence and with a real understanding of where his teammates would be. Indeed, it was his movement that stood out most, knowing when to come in field and create space for Zaha to exploit.

Palace were a constant threat down the left, with Patrick van Aanholt also typically keen to get forward and make overlapping runs. Recognising this, Eze showed the awareness throughout the contest to drag his opponents out of position, creating the space for Van Aanholt to get in behind - like he did for the third goal.

It was his movement and understanding with his teammates that had been somewhat lacking (and understandably so) in the early stages of his Palace career - but this was not the case on Saturday.

Oh, and did we mention he also grabbed himself a goal and an assist as well? No, well, there's that too! The winger whipped in a wonderful cross for Scott Dann to attack and give his side the lead early on, before he then got his name on the scoresheet with a simply outrageous free kick.

It was the perfect way to get his first Crystal Palace goal.

Eze was playing with the kind of confidence - and indeed quality - that fans were hoping he would bring to the team. Palace's defeat to Wolves saw Zaha operating more on the left, but the comfortable victory over Leeds should act as a reminder that he is much more effective through the middle - especially with Eze on the left.

Eze's movement and trickery freed up Zaha to do what he does best. Constantly playing on the half turn, the Peacocks hadn't a clue how to deal with him, eventually resorting to simply taking him down however they could. It also meant Jordan Ayew - who was also excellent against Leeds - wasn't left isolated up front.

Zaha really benefited from Eze's movement | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The manner of the win over Leeds was completely contrasting to the display against Wolves. Hodgson's men were energetic, pressed well, closed down the spaces and most importantly, showed their quality in the final third by bringing their best players into the game.

And Eze was key to this bright performance.

It would be wrong for Palace fans to expect too much from Eze this season despite his display on Saturday, not only because of his age, but also because he is still finding his feet at a new club. But he has all the necessary attributes to help take his side to the next level, while also alleviating some of the pressure off of Zaha.

His one goal and assist on Saturday was the perfect way to open his Premier League account, and he will be desperate to build on this display now.

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Source : 90min