Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has labelled Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha “world class” after his side’s 4-3 win over the Eagles.
Zaha, 26, produced a stellar performance at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, completing more dribbles (five) than any other player on the pitch, while also registering an assist.
Is Wilfried Zaha world class? Five key things to know…
- Zaha is widely regarded as Crystal Palace’s best performer, with no player scoring more goals from open play (eight) last season.
- Former Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer has even compared Zaha to Lionel Messi in recent months.
- Zaha registered his second assist of the campaign after teeing up Andros Townsend at Anfield, making him the club’s joint-top assist provider this term.
- And Klopp has hailed the Palace man has ‘world class’.
- The Ivorian winger has attempted more dribbles (139) than any other player in the PL this season and has completed the second-most (61).
Klopp’s men ultimately triumphed on the day, prolonging their stint at the top of the table, but the German lavished praise on the Palace forward, whose quick feet hoodwinked James Milner into making two mistimed challenges, which saw him receive two yellow cards.
“It’s a massive relief,” Klopp told reporters. “We knew for different reasons the game would be difficult. They are really good at counter-attacks and set-pieces.
“Wilfried Zaha is a world-class player and he gets into a one-on-one situation and we’re one down.”
The former Borussia Dortmund boss was in awe of the winger’s quick pace on the counter, and has made the honest admission that Milner deserved to be sent off for his challenges.
Klopp told the club’s official website: “We had good moments and controlled it most of the time, but pretty much each ball we lost was immediately a counter-attack because Zaha had a really good game and gave us a lot of things to solve.
“Millie [Milner] did outstandingly well because you really cannot defend him alone and we didn’t – besides the goal, of course, which he set up. Apart from that, we could defend him.”
Klopp singles out Salah for praise
Zaha wasn’t the only “world class” player on display, as the German also reserved special praise for Mohamed Salah, who netted his 50th Premier League goal, reaching the milestone in just 72 appearances.
The Egyptian struck twice in the second half to take his tally to half a century, reaching the landmark in the joint-fourth quickest time during the competition’s history – taking him level with Liverpool legend Fernando Torres.
“Exceptional – an exceptional achievement from a world-class player, that’s how it is,” Klopp said of his talisman.
Mohamed Salah is the first player in the Premier League, and the second player in Europe’s Top 5 Leagues, to score 15 goals this season.
Only Lionel Messi (17) has more. pic.twitter.com/ki0lLBV0Sf
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 19, 2019
“I think he made a few steps in the last couple of months in the right direction, so it’s really, really an outstanding number. I heard the names of the other players who did it a bit quicker: Alan Shearer, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Andy Cole – yeah, good strikers as well!
“Maybe he would’ve scored more earlier if I wouldn’t have played him that often on the right wing, so [that’s] my fault! But no, it’s not bad and it helped us a lot and the boys know that.
“I think it’s a typical win-win situation: he benefits from the style of play with the other boys and the boys benefit, of course, with his scoring desire, so that’s cool.”