Premier League teams are known for their notorious reputation of playing ‘rough’ on the football pitch. From carefully crafted tackles to asserting their physicality over a sprinting forward, the defenders in the Premier League have no second thoughts about tackling by any means possible. Wilfried Zaha, the Crystal Palace forward, should have known or should have been made to remember where he plays.
Zaha was causing early problems for Leeds United with his robust pace while running down the wing. Leeds’ midfielder, Kalvin Phillips, took up the task to keep Zaha at bay. But the English midfielder had no answer but to foul him consistently by pushing, shoving, or throwing Zaha on the ground. Zaha was furious, but Phillips kept his nerve and turned the blame on Zaha.
“He is a good player, but we defended against him well as a team. The ref complained at us for fouling him but I think he dives a lot, to be honest with you.” Phillips’s post-match comment didn’t sit well with the Ivory Coast’s number nine, who went on the record on his Instagram with a clear message which said, “Got to understand people will speak on your life no matter what you do. So I let them enjoy the show.”
The Eagles’ boss, Patrick Vieira, was also unimpressed by Leeds’ unnecessary tactics to bring Zaha down at every point they got hold of him on the pitch. “I think he is used to it. But yes, I was angry. There were too many incidents.” But Vieira was all praise for his trailblazing forward and applauded his maturity for handling the incessant tackles on him.
Philips has been missing from action since December, but his return was not a pleasant sight for Zaha. Even though the Eagles’ forward is known for his lighting speed in the Premier League, he failed to score against a side fighting to avoid relegation at all costs.
Leeds’ manager Jesse Marsch would be happy to have a secured a point from the tie but Patrick Vieira that all that was missing from the match was a goal that could secure three points for his team and see him move up the pecking order.