London (AFP) – Wilfried Zaha believes Crystal Palace have shown what it takes to succeed in the relegation battle after registering their first Premier League win under new manager Sam Allardyce.
Palace will face Allardyce’s former side Sunderland at home on Saturday in a crucial fixture that pitches two of the current bottom three side against each other.
Buoyed by the midweek victory at Bournemouth, Zaha and his team-mates will go into the game with renewed belief and strengthened by the addition of deadline day signings Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho.
And Zaha believes Tuesday’s 2-0 win laid down the blueprint Palace must follow if they are to start moving up the table.
“That is what we need to do to win games, we need to be at it constantly and that is what we need to do for the rest of the season just like we showed against Bournemouth,” said Zaha, who returned to the line-up following his appearance at the African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.
“I am confident we can get out of the position we are in because we have a good team of individuals but we need to work together so we get some wins.
“I feel it is part of the club’s character, we need to defend well in games and then break on teams, which we do well, with the pace we have in the squad we can use that to cause problems at the other end of the pitch.”
– Experience –
Allardyce steered Sunderland to safety during the second half of last season before leaving the club to take charge of England and Zaha believes the manager’s experience will prove decisive.
“We have a good squad of players but obviously the gaffer is not new to this kind of situation so he knows what to do and has made some additions to the group,” said the winger.
“The gaffer has come in and is structuring it well for us but the lads need to go out there and do what we need to do.”
Milivojevic and Sakho could make their first appearances for the club while Jeff Schlupp should be back after a hamstring problem.
Sunderland’s line-up could also include new faces, with Republic of Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson and Costa Rican full-back Bryan Oviedo both in contention to make their debut for at Selhurst Park.
David Moyes’ side are bottom of the table and five points adrift of safety after failing to win for eight games in all competitions.
It’s three months since their last away win, and John O’Shea wants the Black Cats to reproduce the level of performance that saw them grind out a deserved point against Mauricio Pochettino’s title contenders at the Stadium of Light in midweek.
“The kind of effort we produced against Tottenham is going to be the minimum we need going forward for the rest of the season,” he said.
“We’ll need to show that same kind of resilience and togetherness against Crystal Palace because we know it will be another tough challenge.”
Sunderland’s Ivory Coast defender Lamine Kone hopes to upset their former manager Allardyce, who brought the 28-year-old to Wearside 12 months ago from Lorient.
“He brought me to England and I will always be thankful to him for that,” Kone said.
“It will be good to see him again, but now he’s at Crystal Palace I hope we can beat them in what is a vital game.”
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