The future of Wilfried Zaha and the growing possibility of a loan move in the January transfer window has hit the headlines in recent days and there are three clubs that arguably should be leading the queue to take the winger on a short term deal.
When Manchester United played Phil Jones in central midfield against Tottenham last year and told him to double up with Rafael on reducing Gareth Bale’s space, it was decided that shutting down Bale would be the best chance of getting a result off Tottenham.
What it also did was create additional space elsewhere on the pitch, especially for Aaron Lennon on the opposite flank.
Newcastle could find themselves up against similar defensive set-ups in the near future if Hatem Ben Arfa returns to dribbling at defenders at the same rate he did for much of last season.
Zaha’s strength is taking on defenders and so having dribblers on both flanks will make it extremely tough for teams to set up to shackle both. In theory, signing Zaha may enhance the space afforded to Ben Arfa.
Furthermore, it would give Newcastle more of a wide threat, as the majority of their chances so far this season have been created in central areas.
Stoke had one of the worst successful dribble rates last season and this is despite lining up regularly with strikers who are particularly likely to win more than their fair share of aerial duels.
Although they are now not so direct under Mark Hughes, the likes of Kenwyne Jones and Peter Crouch would still benefit from regular service from the wide areas.
This is something that Zaha could provide.
Villa are at their best when breaking quickly at pace in the wide areas and given they lack a true creative presence centrally, it is in the wide areas where they are at their most dangerous.
Zaha could be a right menace opposite Gabby Agbonlahor in support of a fit Christian Benteke or he could even be allowed to flourish in the hole if Paul Lambert decides to stick with his 3-5-2 formation.
A player not afraid to run at the opposition is someone that would strengthen Villa’s current squad.
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