Monday, May 20, 2024

Eberechi Eze and Jean-Philippe Mateta exclusive: Crystal Palace pair thriving under Oliver Glasner -Dlight News

Back in February, a Monday night mauling of Manchester United felt a million miles away for Crystal Palace.

Pressure had been mounting on then-manager Roy Hodgson amid a run of just three wins from 17 in the Premier League.

Fans had become disillusioned with banners attacking the club’s direction and ownership during matches. Heavy defeats at Arsenal and arch-rivals Brighton had supporters fearing that a season which initially felt like a holding pattern was veering off-course down into the Championship.

Yet in the space of weeks, Oliver Glasner has reunited and galvanised the support base and instilled a clear playing vision – in stark contrast to the Manchester United team his side dismantled on a memorable night at Selhurst Park.

Perhaps nobody has been revitalised more than a Frenchman who had endured an at times anonymous three years prior, and had scored just 11 Premier League goals.

Jean-Philippe Mateta is a striker reborn under Glasner. His nine goals in 11 matches under the Austrian have propelled Palace away from any danger, with fans now salivating about a bright future ahead.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for a player who started just six Premier League matches last season. Earlier this week he was rewarded with Palace’s player of the season award and jointly voted as the club’s players’ player of the season – alongside team-mate Joachim Andersen.


“I’m a guy who loves to enjoy things, they feel this from me in the dressing room,” he tells Sky Sports ahead of this weekend’s trip to Wolves. “You see it with [Eberechi] Eze too, he dances like a crazy guy!

“It’s easier sometimes, with Eze dribbling past two or three players – [Michael] Olise is the same – and then they find me and I can score with a first touch. It’s such a pleasure to play with those two.”

Mateta has scored in each of Glasner’s first six home matches – sending the Selhurst Park faithful into frenzy with his now trademark celebration.

The former Mainz striker’s form has been so impressive that only Cole Palmer and Alexander Isak have scored more league goals than the Palace frontman since Glasner took charge in south-east London.

Palace have been hampered for large portions of the season without their creative wizards – Eze and Olise. Eze has missed 11 matches through injury this season while Olise has been absent for even more.

Palace’s win rate is 71 per cent in this Premier League campaign when the pair have started. Compare that to 17 per cent when both have been missing.

Eze made his England debut last summer and would have had ambitions of furthering his international credentials this season. Injuries at crucial times have meant he’s been unable to add to his two caps.


However, recent confirmation from UEFA that nations will be able to name 26 players for this summer’s European Championships has given the former QPR midfielder hope sealing a spot on the plane to Germany.

He says: “It’d be a huge honour, a huge privilege to be chosen, of course my family would be proud, but you try not to think about it too much – that takes you away from the present moment of playing Wolves this weekend.

“I try not to think about [the England squad], I try to just enjoy being on the pitch, that’s my main focus, what I do here. That’ll put me in the best position for the summer, I’m not focused on it. Gelling as much as I can, learning as much as I can from the manager, and that’s it.

“There’s a lot of talent here. So many big players, players who are going to grow into incredible players. We’re enjoying playing together, becoming more and more connected as a team, and as long as we’re together it’s going to be a good time, for sure.”

In his previous role at Eintracht Frankfurt, Glasner guided the German side to the Europa League crown – beating West Ham and Rangers along the way.

There’s a quiet optimism that Palace could put themselves in contention for European football over the coming years if the core of this young, exciting group can be kept together.

Watch the full interview with Eberechi Eze and Jean-Philippe Mateta on Soccer Saturday Pre-Match this Saturday from 11am.

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