Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa: Zaha, Eagles soar past slumping Villans

·4 min read

Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa recap: The Eagles fell behind after just five minutes before scoring three unanswered goals to secure a thoroughly convincing 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

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Ollie Watkins put the visitors ahead early on, but the lead lasted just two minutes before Wilfried Zaha pulled Palace level. Zaha made it 2-1 when he put home the rebound of his own penalty kick (saved by Emiliano Martinez) just before the hour mark and Jean-Philippe Mateta added the all-important insurance goal in the 71st.

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What we learned from Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa

Eze, Edouard fitting in with Zaha

For far too long, the entirety of Crystal Palace’s attacking gameplan consisted of “get Wilfried the ball and just get out of his way” and very little else. In Eberechi Eze, Palace have a wonderful creative complement to Zaha’s pace and direct approach — intentional languid and ponderous but quick with a burst over short distances, a tight-alley dribbler with exceptional timing for passing and immediately moving. When he goes wide and Zaha tucks inside (or vice versa) there’s no end to the danger they pose the right back and center back. Nightmares. Odsonne Edouard will score a fair few goals by proximity to Zaha and Eze, but he serves the side best as a facilitator dropping in between the lines. It all fits together so well.

Tough times for Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa

In their last 14 Premier League games dating back to last season, Aston Villa have just three wins (3W-3D-8L) — two of them against sides (Norwich and Burnley) relegated in May, and the other against a side expected to be in the relegation battle again this season, in Everton. They have even fewer clean sheets (two) in that span.

How to watch Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium

Key storylines & star players

For Crystal Palace, it’s been nearly as tough of a start as the fixture makers could have thrown at them — vs Arsenal, at Liverpool — and still, the Eagles have a point to show for a pair of impressive performances against a pair of big-six sides. With two of those 12 fixtures already out of the way, Patrick Vieira and his players have proven they can hold their own against the Premier League’s best. Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa is but a brief reprieve, though, with a trip to champions Manchester City on the docket next weekend, followed by Manchester United and Chelsea as the calendar turns to October. But, then comes a run of nine straight games against non-big-six sides. There are still questions over Crystal Palace’s ability to create scoring chances through anyone other than Wilfried Zaha, but the midfield and defense have matured even from Vieira’s first season in charge, despite the departure of Conor Gallagher back to Chelsea.

As for Aston Villa, the fixtures have been far kinder and, and it’s been a mixed bag of results so far. The opening-day defeat to Bournemouth left plenty of people scratching their heads, but what followed was a largely dominant display in a 2-1 victory against Everton with Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia getting on the scoresheet. Star summer signing Diego Carlos will miss a large portion, if not all, of the rest of the season after rupturing his achilles against the Toffees. The 29-year-old was set to serve as the midfield lynchpin for Steven Gerrard’s side, likely forcing Aston Villa back into the transfer market (at least) once more this window.

Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: James McArthur (groin), James Tomkins (undisclosed), Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot)

Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Kortney Hause (knee), Philippe Coutinho (undisclosed), Matty Cash (undisclosed)

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Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa: Zaha, Eagles soar past slumping Villans originally appeared on NBCSports.com