The Art of Dribbling
Why successful take-ons put bums on seats
There aren’t many better sights in football than a player in full-flow gliding past opposing players. Nobody who ever witnessed Ricky Villa’s FA Cup final goal against Manchester City, Ryan Giggs stunner in that FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park or Diego Maradona’s amazing run against England is ever likely to forget them. A sense of anticipation captivates the spectator, as they edge closer to the edge of their seat whenever an offensive player of this ilk engages in the art of dribbling.
Wide players or wingers, as they are often referred to, are the players most likely to possess this attribute and it’s fair to say that Manchester United have had some sensational ones down the years. The late George Best was arguably the pick of them, but the aforementioned Giggs, Andrei Kanchelskis, Steve Coppell, Lee Sharpe and of course Cristiano Ronaldo all produced moments of magic that will live long in the memory.
Wilfried Zaha really hit the headlines in November 2012 when he claimed that only two players in world football were better than him – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He was soon snapped up by Alex Ferguson and was the Scots last ever signing as boss of United. However, he wouldn’t go on to make his debut until the 2013 Community Shield, under David Moyes. Incredibly Zaha only made two Premier League substitute appearances for United, but did have loans spell with Cardiff City and Crystal Palace, before finally re-signing for the Eagles permanently.
Rumours were rife that his attitude was all wrong, with his time-keeping not up to the standards required at Old Trafford. However, Zaha remains a talented player and has made a huge contribution at Palace during the current campaign, helping them to an FA Cup semi-final. The Eagles have plenty of depth in the wide areas and it could be argued that an early season injury to Bakary Sako worked in Zaha’s favour.
The winger, who was born in the Ivory Coast has certainly seized his chance and the Oulala infographic below highlights how he is mixing it with the cream of Europe’s attacking players, in terms of successful take-ons.
Two of Zaha’s five goals this season have come in the FA Cup so it’s possible Alan Pardew will hold him back for the Watford game at the weekend, but if he does get an opportunity at Old Trafford tonight he should be eager to prove a point. However, on a cautionary note, just one assist all season is a concern for fantasy football managers, suggesting that his final ball still requires some work.
In a season of reunions there’s still the possibility of a Manchester United vs Crystal Palace FA Cup Final – if that was to happen, there’s surely no way Wilfried Zaha would be late!