Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira must finally unleash Eberechi Eze, who has lacked game-time this season.
The 23-year-old has failed to win back a starting place in Vieira’s side after sustaining an Achilles tendon injury at the end of last season, which has disrupted his momentum.
Before the injury, Eze had shown plenty of promise, having notched ten goal contributions (four goals and six assists) in his debut campaign in England’s top flight. However, it’s fair to say that 2021/22 has not gone to plan for the 37k-p/w star, who has made just seven appearances in the current Premier League campaign.
On Sunday, Crystal Palace make the trip to Wembley to face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.
If the last four meetings between the teams are any barometer, Vieira’s side will be hard pressed to emerge triumphant, conceding 12 goals across their last four games against the Blues and scoring just one.
They will surely look to change that, and having registered three wins, a draw and a loss in their last five matches, they will look to add to that momentum and strike Chelsea whilst they are down, with the Blues having been eliminated from the Champions League in midweek in agonising fashion.
Eze, who has been described as “magic” by team-mate Christian Benteke, can help Vieira’s side to overcome their London rivals, and he may prove to be their secret weapon in a potential system change for the Eagles.
With the 23-year-old finding the net on 14 occasions throughout the 2019/20 season for QPR, fans may be disappointed with his lack of end product this season, even accounting for his long-term injury layoff.
However, it is worth noting that he has not been deployed in his favoured position under Vieira, and with a slight system change from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 during Palace’s last game against Leicester, Eze may well get his chance in an attacking midfield role – the position in which he was most potent during his time at QPR.
The Eagles boss may well have been testing the system out last weekend in order to iron out potential flaws ahead of the FA Cup semi-final.
Eze will surely be out to register his first attacking return of the season, and what better occasion to do just that than a cup semi-final at Wembley against a London rival?