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‘Outsiders have wrong perception of Wilfried Zaha’ – Palace boss Patrick Vieira has his say over key man

Crystal Palace head coach Patrick Vieira has praised the leadership qualities of Wilfried Zaha, and claims there is a “misunderstanding” about how he is perceived by some people outside the club.

Zaha, who scored the opening goal via a penalty and set up Odsonne Edouard for the second in the South Londoners’ 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur last week, has played every competitive minute under the French World Cup winner this season.

Zaha has made the most appearances, scored the most goals and has the most wins of any Palace player in their Premier League history.

When Vieira was asked whether he was surprised at Zaha’s leadership qualities which the 28-year-old has demonstrated since he arrived at Selhurst Park, the head coach said: “No, I knew who he was as a player and as a person as well. There is a misunderstanding about how he is from the people from outside.

“But at the same time, he has to realise that what I expect and what I want from him is to be a positive leader and to take his experience to help the team play with more confidence and more belief.”

Zaha was back to his best last time out, with the talisman completing 12 dribbles and contributing towards two goals. However, Vieira wants the responsibility of his side’s goalscoring burden to be shared amongst the squad.

“It’s important for the team to realise that it is really good for us to have players like that in our squad, but we need the players as well to take more responsibility,” said Vieira when asked if sharing the creative duty around other players will help free up Zaha.

“We have players who can score goals, players who can create goals, we have a strong personality, we have leadership, and I want them to take responsibility as well; I don’t want to put all the pressure on Wilfried.

“He loves having that pressure because that is his best when he is performing at the level that we saw against Tottenham. But I would like and want other players around to take responsibility, and they have done it really well.

“When you look at the way Macca [James McArthur] has been performing lately – Conor [Gallagher] and Luka [Milivojevic] at the back as well – we have players with strong personalities who can take this leadership role.”

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