Crystal Palace are set to take on Chelsea at Wembley this afternoon in the FA Cup semi-final as the Eagles look to make their second final in seven years.
The South London club have had an excellent run en route to the national stadium, beating Millwall, Hartlepool United, Stoke City and Everton in the cup this term.
However, they now undoubtedly face their toughest test in the competition thus far with Thomas Tuchel’s side separating them from another date at Wembley next month.
Moreover, Patrick Vieira will be without star player Conor Gallagher given the Chelsea loanee’s ineligibility to play against his parent club.
Therefore, the Eagles will have to find another source of creativity to replace the midfielder’s eight goals and five assists.
With winger Michael Olise’s availability also in potential doubt, now is the time for playmaker Eberechi Eze to be handed the big chance his been craving this season since returning from injury.
The attacking midfielder spent six months on the sidelines after enduring a ‘freak’ Achilles injury in training last May and returned to action in November.
However, the 23-year-old is yet to win over Vieira, having joined Palace from QPR in summer 2020 whilst Roy Hodgson was in charge of the South London outfit.
Eze has made just seven Premier League appearances all season with just one coming from the start and is yet to play more than 71 minutes in a game this term.
The FA Cup has allowed some game time with the Englishman starting all but one of Vieria’s side’s matches on the road to Wembley with the attacking midfielder an unused substitute in the fifth round win against Stoke City.
Despite not seeing much football this campaign, there’s certainly plenty of talent there with the former QPR-ace scoring four goals and assisting a further six in 34 Premier League appearances last term before his injury.
In the top-flight last term, the London-born playmaker averaged 1.3 key passes a match whilst also enjoying an 84% passing accuracy and an impressive 54% dribble success rate, as per SofaScore.
In a 0-0 draw against Arsenal last season, pundit Jamie Redknapp showered the Englishman with praise, saying:
“Eze has been so influential though I actually want to see more of him. (He’s) Very impressive, he’s a star man. When he’s on the ball he’s so exciting to watch.”
Granted, it would be a major risk for Vieira to hand Eze his big opportunity of the season in Palace’s biggest game of the campaign. However, with limited options for creativity available, the Palace manager could find his hands tied.