Christian Benteke backs wantaway Wilfried Zaha to be ‘professional’ at Palace
Christian Benteke believes wantaway Crystal Palace team-mate Wilfried Zaha can get back to his best this season.
Zaha was linked with a summer move away from Selhurst Park with Everton attempting to land the Ivory Coast international in the closing days of the transfer window.
In a quirk of the fixture list, the Toffees faced Palace in south London on the opening day of the season, with the sides playing out a 0-0 draw and Zaha coming off the bench for the last 25 minutes.
Despite handing in a transfer request and being relieved from training on deadline day, the Crystal Palace fans cheered Zaha’s introduction after chanting his name throughout a forgettable contest.
Everton, who were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages when Morgan Schneiderlin was shown a second yellow card, created the best chances but both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
It remains to be seen if Zaha will be in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI for the trip to Sheffield United next weekend but Benteke believes the 26-year-old will get his head down.
“I know how big he has been for this team and this club,” the striker told Palace’s official website.
“I think that this chapter of his transfer is behind him; he is a professional, he didn’t argue at all.
“He showed what he can do and hopefully he is now going to be back to his best.”
Benteke was pleased with the Eagles’ display against Everton and wants the second-half display to be the benchmark moving forward.
“I think the first half they had a couple of great chances but we came back into the game in the second half; we were playing a little bit higher and we at least deserved a goal,” he added.
“We played against a great side, a top-six side. If we look at our second half we have to bring that next weekend away and we have to keep going, as we were sharper and stronger in the second half.”
While Everton were arguably the closest to taking all three points, they had Jordan Pickford to thank for not conceding.
The England goalkeeper kept out Jordan Ayew and Max Meyer and felt, given the Schneiderlin red card, the visitors should be pleased with a point.
“It’s a tough place to come, the conditions weren’t the greatest, there was windy conditions to deal with for both sides but we didn’t get beat and we built momentum for next week,” Pickford said.
“We need to be picking up as many points as we can and we always go into games thinking we can win but we went down to 10 men and still played well. We managed the game.
“When we went down to 10 men we knew Crystal Palace would get a second wind but we dealt with that very well as a defensive unit from top to bottom and we didn’t concede.”