Luka Milivojevic talks up Palace winger Wilfried Zaha after landmark appearance
Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic praised Wilfried Zaha for playing his 300th league game for the club, but refused to be drawn on the future of the Ivory Coast international.
Academy graduate Zaha was unable to help Roy Hodgson’s team get the better of Leicester at Selhurst Park on Sunday, with second-half goals from Caglar Soyuncu and Jamie Vardy handing the Foxes a 2-0 win.
The winger remains without a goal this season, after failing to earn a move away in the summer, but has provided one assist and did win a penalty in the 2-2 draw at Arsenal.
“It’s an amazing achievement,” Milivojevic said. “To play 300 (league) games for one club is amazing and he is an important player for us, but his future is in his hands.”
On the defeat to Brendan Rodgers’ side, he added: “It was a very even game, we had a few chances in the first half and they had one.
“I think one small situation decided the game, that was the corner, after that the game changed and it was different. I think it could be the opposite as well. In the end they won 2-0 which I don’t think they deserved.”
Soyuncu made the most of some confusion in the Palace area to run past Gary Cahill and James Tomkins and head home James Maddison’s corner in the 57th minute.
It proved pivotal and Vardy wrapped up the win two minutes from time with his 10th goal of the campaign.
Hodgson admitted the big difference between the teams was the Premier League’s top goalscorer, in a hint that reinforcements are needed in January.
Milivojevic commented: “It is on the board, not me. If we can sign someone who can bring us quality then we are happy. That is it.”
Palace have faced Manchester City and Leicester in their last two matches in south London.
Both games finished 2-0, but Milivojevic insists the gulf between the current champions and Rodgers’ surprise package is big.
He said: “The difference is massive. In my opinion Leicester are a different team to last season when we beat them at home, 4-1. They are different, but nobody is near to Man City. Maybe just Liverpool.”
Unfortunately for Palace, up next at Selhurst Park is the current leaders, yet before that they travel to fourth-placed Chelsea this Saturday.
“We didn’t expect to lose points against Leicester, but the next two games are very tough,” Milivojevic admitted.
“Chelsea are in very good form, Liverpool in amazing form. It will be tough but we have to carry on and believe in ourselves to get something.”
It proved to be an emotional afternoon at Selhurst Park, with Palace’s players wearing black armbands in memory of Adem ‘Ady’ Gradelj – the club’s first-team security officer – who died on Saturday.
A minute’s applause took place too, and Milivojevic said: “We were all very sad, disappointed and shocked.
“He was all the time with us, helping us 24 hours and it was a very big shock. We as a club show how much respect and that is the least we could do for our member.”