Zaha must start and expose vulnerable Baggies

Manchester United loanee can return to form seen at Crystal Palace to dig Cardiff out of trouble

This weekend see’s the ultimate six-pointer at the foot of the Premier League as West Bromwich Albion face Cardiff City at the Hawthorns.

Both sides face threat of relegation, with the winner of the clash set to gain invaluable momentum in the race to survive the drop. The loser will be dealt a huge blow not just with regard to the maths of the league table, but a huge confidence knock at defeat to a relegation rival.

For Cardiff, they must look to not just one of their, but England’s brightest prospects to attack a defensively weak West Brom. Wilfried Zaha can be the man to replicate his heroics that saw Crystal Palace into the Premier League, and keep Cardiff in it.

West Brom are struggling for numbers defensively. Injuries to Billy Jones and suspension to Jonas Olsson, as well as the fitness doubts of Gareth McAuley and Diego Lugano mean Cardiff simply have to throw everything at the Baggies. A performance similar to that against Liverpool on Saturday, and Albion will struggle to cope with the Bluebirds superior firepower.

Zaha is yet to make the impression at Cardiff that made him such a wanted man by Manchester United and England, but has the talent within to perform on the big stage, and this weekend gets no bigger for his loan club.

Ten months ago he was tearing up Championship defences and proved the dazzling match-winner in Crystal Palace’s play-off semi-final against Brighton. Albion may well be a second-tier side come May, and Zaha needs a big performance to justify his move to the Bluebirds.

Defeat at the Hawthorns will all but kill any hopes Cardiff have of staying in the Premier League. But a win can inspire a remarkable turnaround. City must use Zaha’s pace and creativity to exploit a vulnerable, aging West Brom defence. He is the best attacking player in the side on his day, and must deliver a high-quality performance to give Cardiff a fighting chance at staying in the top-flight.

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