EPL

Chris Wilder admits Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise ‘can destroy your game plan’

By Sports Desk January 30, 2024

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted there was little his side could do to stop influential Crystal Palace duo Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze after the pair lifted the hosts to a 3-2 victory at Selhurst Park.

A frenetic first 30 minutes in south London started in stunning fashion with Ben Brereton Diaz’s opener inside the first 21 seconds, cancelled out by Eze via Olise’s assist.

James McAtee quickly restored United’s lead but the sides were square at the break after Olise once again teed up Eze before he got himself on the scoresheet with the 67th-minute game-winner.

Wilder, whose side remain bottom of the Premier League, said: “We got pushed back, those two players decided a pretty tight game.

“The quality that those two players have, you’re up against minimum £50million for both of those players. You have to deal with that, that’s what the Premier League is about.

“Could have done with Olise having just a few more days off but that’s the challenges you’re up against. You want to play against the best players, and when they find those bits and moments that we’re trying to find it makes it a difficult evening.

“We do prep and we do structure and we have a game plan but I think what happens is that those boys can destroy your game plan through individual brilliance.

“You can have all the plan in the world, but those boys find a way.”

Despite injuries severely hampering their appearances together, Olise’s seventh assist for Eze moved him into joint-first with Andros Townsend and James McArthur for the most times a Palace player has assisted a single team-mate.

The victory eased pressure on Palace boss Roy Hodgson after the Eagles’ 5-0 dismantling at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, where fans in the away end raised banners protesting against the direction of their club.

Yet there were worrying scenes at Selhurst Park, with both Olise and Eze removed in the second half after they received treatment on the pitch.

The 76-year-old said he was more concerned about Eze than Olise, who had returned to his line-up for the first time in 2024 after sitting out since Palace’s Brentford victory in late December, having also missed a significant spell to start the season with a separate hamstring issue.

Hodgson said the pair “haven’t been fully assessed” but “both of them were pretty upbeat after the game, and with any luck” available to face bitter rivals Brighton on Saturday.

The Palace boss said the win and presence of the two influential players did “wonders” for his side’s confidence and added: “Hopefully we put the black mark of last week, the heavy defeat, behind us.

“I think people, if they’re looking at the team now, should be doing so with a large degree of optimism. This team and this group of players are capable of lifting Crystal Palace up into a higher position than we find ourselves in.”

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