Zaha's return brings hope for Crystal Palace

"Unfinished business." That was the phrase both Neil Warnock and Wilfried Zaha used when they returned to Palace this week.

Warnock was back in the manager's seat after four years, having left the club when they were teetering on the brink of administration.

And Zaha has returned on loan having left Palace last summer to move to Manchester United for what should have been the move that ignited his top-flight career. But a lack of opportunities at Manchester United left him frustrated and ultimately heading out the door.

Both are back with the Eagles with a point to prove. And on Saturday at Newcastle, a point was exactly what they got after an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Palace managed to notch three records in one game at St James' Park as they scored the quickest first-half and second-half goals and the latest goal as Zaha stabbed home in the 95th minute.

It was a dream start with the Eagles for Zaha after a frustrating year at Manchester United, and it will be a goal he'll always remember as it's the first Premier League strike of his career.

His previous goal at any level was his second against Brighton in the playoffs that sent Palace into a Wembley final with Watford.

The late goal from Zaha typified the sort of never-say-die attitude that saw Palace avoid relegation last season under Tony Pulis, so it's a relief to see that it's still there under the new boss. Not that you'd really expect anything less from a Warnock team but after all that's gone on at the club in the last two weeks, it's good to see the positives from last campaign are still here.

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Defence, though, remains a worry -- especially from set pieces. Newcastle's second goal came from a corner, which Rolando Aarons nodded in far too easily, and Mike Williamson's late prod in was also from a cross. Add that to both of Arsenal's goals on the opening day of the season coming from set pieces and West Ham's first goal last week (the Hammers' third also came from a long ball into the box).

Last season under Pulis, Palace conceded just one goal from a set piece. This season they've already allowed four, and three more from a ball into the box. Even on Daryl Janmaat's goal for Newcastle, the Palace defence seemed a bit of a mess.

Going forward, though, the Eagles look a real threat. With Zaha on the pitch, there were a couple of times Palace looked to break on the counterattack late on at Newcastle and poured forward with Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie. It was reminiscent of the early '90s with John Salako, Ian Wright and Mark Bright, and it's wonderful to see the Eagles looking threatening and entertaining on the break.

Sadly, with the defence looking a bit wobbly, it's almost an exact reverse of last season, when the back line was solid, but going forward, Palace were a bit weak. The whole team last season was set up around being defensive. You'd expect that to be the same this time around under Warnock, but maybe not.

With everything that's happened around the club in the last fortnight, I guess you can't blame the players for having their minds elsewhere. But now that Warnock is in, it's time for the dust to settle and the hard work to really begin.

It's going to be another long season. Fans were hoping it would finally be the time to move away from being a club that's always fighting relegation, but with Pulis' departure and the resulting mess, staying up again has become the aim for the season. Maybe if they do, next season can be the springboard to something better.

Despite all this, it's hard to take the shine of Zaha's fairytale return and late goal. He's needed a moment like that over the past year, Palace have desperately needed a point, and Warnock needed a decent start to his second stint at the club.

Ultimately, though, the real "unfinished business" for Palace is in the transfer market. They still need a left-back, another central midfielder, probably a forward and maybe one more centre-back as cover.

It'll be an interesting deadline day for Warnock, Steve Parish & Co., and hopefully one that isn't as manic as last summer's, when Palace went on a late supermarket dash to find any player they could. A couple of smart additions, and things might just be OK.