Wilfried Zaha is excited about Crystal Palace’s future under manager Patrick Vieira after booking a ticket to Wembley on Sunday.
A comprehensive 4-0 win over Everton in the FA Cup quarter-final continued the Eagles’ fine debut campaign under their new manager.
Vieira has kept Palace comfortably clear of the relegation zone all season, despite a summer of upheaval, and now has a Wembley date to look forward to after goals from Marc Guehi, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Zaha and Will Hughes extended their unbeaten run to six games.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Zaha told ITV when asked about the prospect of an FA Cup semi-final at the National Stadium.
“It’s amazing. Obviously it’s crazy, it’s the first year the team has played together, but you can already see the progress. I think over time when the team solidifies more, it there is still more to come.
“It shows where the club is going. The players we have signed, how we are playing, it just shows what we have for the future, so the club is going in the right direction.”
Zaha’s comments will be welcomed by everyone associated with Palace, especially as he nears the final 12 months of his contract.
The Ivory Coast international assisted Mateta and netted his 10th goal of the campaign in the win, the third time he has reached double figures in a season.
Boss Vieira has often spoken of Zaha’s contribution off the ball and did the same regarding the recall of Ebere Eze, who made only his fourth start of the season in cup success after recovering of a serious injury to Achilles last May.
“Ebs trained very well and was waiting for this kind of opportunity to play,” explained the Palace manager.
“Unfortunately he didn’t play much, but that’s just because the midfield players were doing very well. He kept working hard, he worked well and it was his chance.
“I think he did really well. He played with a lot of personality and what I was pleased with his performance was the job he did without possession.
“We all know what he can do with the ball, but that part of the game (without the ball) he had to improve. I think he did it very well and now it has to be consistent. The best way for him to be consistent is to keep playing games.
Everton lost a fifth time in seven matches and new boss Frank Lampard quickly turned his attention to helping the club avoid a first-ever Premier League relegation.
The Merseyside side enter the international break just three points above the bottom three.
“The job is to stay upright, that’s the reality,” admitted Lampard.
“If you offer an Evertonian before the game ‘do you want to win and go to Wembley or stay up?’ we know what the answer is.
“Maybe it’s not Everton’s time, or not my time as manager of Everton to be here at Wembley.
“Crystal Palace have been with the manager since the start of the season and have invested in important areas of his squad and squad where they knew they had to, so this is their time and not ours.”