Roy Hodgson talked up the importance of Wilfried Zaha after Crystal Palace’s 2-0 victory over Norwich, but also praised the defensive efforts of his team.
The Eagles talisman looked closer to his best at Selhurst Park, playing a part in winning a spot-kick which Luka Milivojevic scored in the 21st minute before setting up Andros Townsend in the second minute of stoppage time.
It was a deserved Premier League success for Palace and made it six unbeaten at home despite withstanding a sustained spell of pressure from Norwich towards the end of the first half.
“I am happy for Andros, who hasn’t had the best start to the season by his own admission. He is obviously an important player for us and it was good to see him get that goal, with an assist from Wilf Zaha,” Hodgson said.
“At the start of the season, in the first two games perhaps, he wasn’t the Wilf we know and love, but since then he has been the Wilf we know and love.
“Like I have said right the way through, he is a player we need and one we are very, very loathe to lose.
“I am realistic and I understand that one day we might not be able to bat off the interest in him, but luckily we did in the summer and, to his credit, he has got his head around that and now he is focused on one thing and one thing only and that is helping Crystal Palace.
“And don’t forget he is a Crystal Palace player. This is the club who took care of him and and this is the club who have shown him so much love, and not just in terms of Steve Parish and the club board but the fans, and he is aware of all that.”
It was the 100th clean sheet the Eagles have registered in Premier League history, and Hodgson added: “Defensively we are a very hard-working team and everyone does bring their straw to the water, if that is the right expression.
“People like Wilf Zaha don’t just stand up the field and wait to be served the ball, they do their defensive work as well.
“We all know if you want to keep clean sheets, that is an 11-man effort. We have an exceptional centre-forward (Jordan Ayew) who does more than one can expect in terms of defensive duties as well as his offensive duties.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke was left to reflect on more injury problems, with goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann forced off in the first half with the same groin injury which troubled him before.
Farke said: “We know that we are in a negative situation due to our injury situation and it’s a pretty unlucky situation, but we don’t complain.
“We are disappointed. My feeling is small details cost us the game and for that we are definitely not happy with the result.
“I am more concerned by Jamal Lewis, he has fallen on his elbow and needs a scan. There is a possibility his elbow is broken. We have to wait for the scan.
“Also Ben Godfrey got a gash above his eye and lost a lot of blood. I hope it is just a cut. We have to wait for assessment. A difficult situation for us and of course it doesn’t help.”
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