There has been an incredible amount of debate over the penalty that was awarded to Crystal Palace in the final moments of their draw with Manchester City yesterday, even though the photo attached just below would suggest that, whilst soft, it definitely wasn’t a dive from Wilfried Zaha.
Since the introduction of a panel which looks at controversial decisions to judge whether or not a player has “successfully deceived a match official” by hitting the turf, we’ve seen Everton’s Oumar Niasse and West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini given two match bans but now, it seems as though neutrals from across the game have got the knives out for Palace’s 25-year-old talisman.
After the clamor for the Ivory Coast international to be banned after winning a penalty against Bournemouth, only for the calls to be dismissed by the aforementioned panel, pundits are taking to their soapboxes yet again, regardless of the evidence of blatant contact being made by Raheem Sterling above.
Whilst I would never pretend that Wilfried has been smashed by the City winger, there is undoubtedly more than enough in the way of preventative action from Sterling to provoke Zaha into losing his balance. Was the penalty soft? Yes. Was it a dive? Not in my view.
Having watched Match Of The Day 2’s analysis of the game, I completely agree with Leon Osman’s assessment of the incident. The Everton man quite rightly questions whether Sterling has done enough to have a penalty given against him but dismisses any talk of it being a “dive” by Zaha. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always have to be black and white and in this instance, the fact that it probably wasn’t a foul doesn’t mean that the Palace man has flopped to the turf with no reason.
We will find out the panel’s final decision soon enough but I know where I stand on the matter.