Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha has been in the headlines recently after criticising referees for not clamping down on some of the rough challenges he has been on the receiving end of this season.
The 25-year-old had to face a bunch of bad tackles in the Eagles’ 2-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road last month, and the Hornets captain Troy Deeney has admitted his side went into the match ready to go in hard on Zaha.
Speaking about the game on BBC Radio Five Live (via the Independent), Deeney said: “You take it in turns kicking him. I know no one wants to hear that, but you go: ‘You hit this time, you hit him the next time’.
“You don’t have the same player tackle him because you know you’re going to get booked.”
While rotational fouling is nothing new and a tactic other teams also probably employ when coming up against a player such as Zaha, it does not change the fact that a lot of dangerous tackles on the Ivory Coast international are going unpunished.
At times, perhaps £27m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Zaha does go down too easily, exaggerate and even do the odd dive. However, that does no mean opposition players should be able to dive in so aggressively with no intention of winning the ball only to be given a slap on the wrist by the referee.
Ultimately, there needs to be a bit more protection given from referees and not just for Zaha. Last season, a lot of Manchester City players were on the end of some very bad tackles, and the culprits behind them were rarely given the appropriate punishment.
Meanwhile, Eden Hazard cannot go five minutes without one aimless challenge coming his way.
For the Belgian, Zaha, Leroy Sane and any other player going into a game with a target on his head, more must be done against their aggressors. Referees cannot keep giving yellow cards for red card offences.