Wilfried Zaha has had an extremely unfair reputation as a “diver” for quite some time now and last night, Andre Marriner bought fully into that narrative when waving away what was unquestionably a penalty in the first-half of Palace’s clash with Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
The game itself proved to be something of an anticlimax for those watching, with both sets of players seemingly desperate not to put a foot wrong but there can be no doubt that Shane Duffy fouled Zaha in the box, only to get away without punishment from the referee and his assistants.
Despite being the most fouled player throughout the Premier League during the 2016/17 season and picking up just one caution for simulation, Wilf has been unfairly painted into a corner by the English media, encouraging officials like Andre Marriner to think twice before judging what they see with their own eyes in a fair manner. Quite what more Shane Duffy could have done to get the ref to point to the spot is anyone’s guess, not that we’ll ever hear any official explanation from the man himself as to why it wasn’t a penalty.
For me and plenty of others, it is the startling lack of consistency that exists from game-to-game which gets most under our skin, with Palace themselves having conceded a penalty to Everton just a few weeks ago that has now been proven by an FA panel to have been won as a consequence of a dive from striker Oumar Niasse.
Referees, just like anyone else, are capable of making mistakes but when players are stereotyped and unfairly punished in the manner Zaha has been for a number of years, the excuses start to wear a tad thin.
In truth, as a side who are currently sitting at the foot of the Premier League table, that spot-kick could have made a tremendous difference to our chances of survival by May, forgetting the dozen or so others he’s incorrectly had waved away in campaigns gone by.
As you can see below, it wasn’t just Palace fans who felt as though Andre Marriner made the wrong call. Will that make a difference in the way referees view Zaha over the next few weeks? You can bet not.
Clear push from Duffy on Zaha in the box, no idea why that isn't a penalty for Palace.
— Adam Brandon (@AdamBrandon84) November 28, 2017
Zaha gets in behind Duffy, Duffy shoves him to the ground and the Brighton fans cheer. Would have been a foul anywhere else on the pitch
— Five Year Plan (@FYPFanzine) November 28, 2017
Palace denied what looks a pretty clear penalty when Duffy bundles down Zaha. Even Brighton fans around us seem to agree
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) November 28, 2017
That’s twice that Duffy has blatantly shoved over Zaha in the box with arm outstretched. Free kick anywhere else on the pitch #cpfc
— Keith Jackson (@KeithDJackson) November 28, 2017
Duffy pushing Zaha over in the penalty area not once but twice
— Cameron llewellyn (@camllewellyn) November 28, 2017