Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has admitted his frustration at being constantly brought down every time he plays, with the Ivorian holding the unfortunate distinction of being the most fouled player in the Premier League.
Zaha, known for his pace and skill, which he uses to wrong-foot opponents and causes them to foul, but the Palace winger is tired of it, having come off against Huddersfield Town on Saturday due to taking several knocks throughout the game.
Speaking to the Croydon Advertiser, Zaha revealed, “To be honest, I was getting hacked down for at least ten minutes straight, so I felt my knee throbbing and instead of trying to play on it, I thought I might as well come off.”
Fouls suffered in 2017:— HLTCO (@HLTCO) January 2, 2018
Zaha, Wilfried 114
Dele Alli 89
Sánchez, Alexis 87
Barnes, Ashley 84
Hazard, Eden 80
Jordan Ayew 72
Mahrez, Riyad 68
Fraser, Ryan 63
If Wilf is in fact "always going down too easily" it's a miracle he's not been banned for life by now. 🙄
“Hopefully I can manage it well and it should be fine.”
The 25-year-old believes he is maturing as he gets older, learning to control his emotions and not react when an opponent hacks him down, as he might have done in his younger days at Selhurst Park.
“As everyone knows, I am supposed to have a reputation for myself for going down easily so most of the time I don’t get anything,” he said.
“It is hard, because I do get hacked down, but it’s a thing that I have to deal with as I get older and be mature enough to not react. I do get annoyed about it, but I just have to cope with it and hope that the referees do give me enough protection in the games.”
When quizzed on the subject, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson admitted the treatment his star player gets is often unfair, but refused to openly criticise the Huddersfield players on their conduct in Saturday's 2-0 win.
“I am not going to go down that route,” he said.
“The referee [Mike Dean] certainly gave him [Zaha] the protection he could give, in giving fouls and free kicks against players when they committed them, and yellow cards. And there were challenges and fouls that we made that were pretty robust to say the least and led to a couple of yellow cards, so I won’t be whining about that."
“My hope of course is that players like Wilf, who run with the ball, get the fouls they merit and the players who are fouling him are getting yellow cards to discourage them from fouling him, if the foul merits it.