Having been kicked from pillar to post against Huddersfield on the opening day of the season, Wilfried Zaha was given similar treatment last Saturday, coming off just before the final whistle with a slight hobble.
It’s telling, after a week of build-up which saw Terriers fans adamantly claiming that their players didn’t target Zaha physically back in August, that all three bookings they received last weekend, were for fouls on the Eagles’ academy graduate.
In fairness to Mike Dean, he refereed the game quite well; allowing advantages to be played as when the moment called for it whilst also ensuring that any fouls were quickly noted, much to the frustration of David Wagner’s men. I dare say they’ll argue that their general performance, coupled with the bad weather were the reasons for their miserable mood but in reality, I would imagine Zaha’s quick feet played as big a role as anything in their losses of composure.
Having already committed a foul on Jeffrey Schlupp which forced the former Leicester man off the field in just the 23rd minute with an ankle injury, Aaron Mooy’s challenge on Zaha was arguably the worst of the three Huddersfield bookings. Having tried and failed to win the ball fairly in front of the dugouts, the Australian swung a desperate leg in Wilfried’s direction as he began to get away, making contact with his calf at least six inches off the ground and nowhere near the ball.
Huddersfield fans will suggest that we take the fouls on Zaha as a compliment to his general ability and nuisance level but when you see it happening week after week, simply because defenders cannot live with him, it does begin to grate a tad.
Thankfully, Roy Hodgson addressed our concerns in a manner which referenced the rough tactics employed by the hosts without ever wandering into the realms of a rant. It’s something the former England gaffer has a talent for, highlighting little nuggets of injustice without ever losing his composure, allowing those paid to talk about such things to grasp the nettle and further his points at a later time.
Palace fans have always sung “He’s just too good for you!” in relation to Wilfried Zaha; these days it’s more a statement of fact that a jovial dig at the opposition.